What I Believe The 1966 Black Panther Party Ten-Point Program Means For Black People Today
We should look at the program with fresh eyes.
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What do you think of when you think about the Black Panther Party? No, not a watch party for the Marvel superhero movie! The Black Panther Party was a strong Black political organization founded in 1966. In October of ‘66, founders Huey Newton and Bobby Seale created the Ten-Point Program, which developed and outlined the direction and goals of the Black Panther Party.
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If you think the Black Panther Party was an extremist, terrorist group, forget what you’ve heard from the white-washed media and your Eurocentric, revisionist history class. The Black Panthers were a cornerstone of the Black community at a time when the U.S. Housing Authority and the U.S. Government was actively trying to destroy it, as described in books like The Color of Law. It is widely believed that former Director of the FBI J. Edgar Hoover created government programs to “... prevent the rise of a Black Messiah.”
I believe the Black Panther Party was, and still is, vital to the success of the Black community in the United States. I also think we should look at the Party's Ten-Point Program with a fresh set of eyes and repurpose it for use today.
Here is what the Black Panther Party Ten-Point Program means for Black people today:
1. We want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our Black community.
Today, I believe this means what it says. We should collectively desire freedom. There is something about the political climate in the U.S. that does not make this point sound so radical. We should be actively finding ways to exercise freedom within our community.
2. We want full employment for our people.
We need to create Black pipelines to major industries like tech, finance, government etc. To do this, we need to think differently about school, college and supporting Black businesses. We need to do everything we can to shop, support and hire Black!
3. We want an end to the robbery by the white men of our Black community.
It's no secret that gentrification has become commonplace in major metropolitan areas. There is a slew of writing that I believe classifies gentrification properly as colonialism. While I believe gentrification is vile and insidious, I also believe that it is now inevitable. Part of what makes it so evil is that commercial real estate investors have ultimately capitalized on the lack of opportunity for Black people to build enough wealth to fight them. The result is that we are losing our neighborhoods.
I believe there is so much value in the history of our people, and it hurts my heart that our neighborhoods, communities and homes are being stolen from us.
But I want to propose a solution: use this evil to your advantage.
Negotiate with investors to generate as much money as you can from the sale of your home. Use that money to move to a new area of town in order to establish a new Black enclave and culture there. I know this isn’t ideal, but I also know that we have seen and do not see any end to the process of gentrification.
4. We want decent housing, fit for shelter of human beings.
This means what is has always meant. We need to fight for and be creative about the ways we are developing our communities.
5. We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present day society.
I previously wrote an op-ed about this topic. I believe that Black people should be creating innovative, independent schools that meet the needs of Black students. The mainstream school system has and still is failing our children. Many of the innovative schools that currently exist do so with a major blindspot — access! Let’s get Black business owners, celebrities, venture capitalists and educators to work together to create a school system that works for us.
6. We want all Black men to be exempt from military service.
While I do not think Black men need to be exempt from military service, I do think we should start to have conversations about the ways Black people are treated in the military. I love and respect Black men and women who serve in the military! I would like to have conversations about how to get more Black people into leadership positions in the military.
7. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of Black people.
Stop beating us. Stop killing us. Stop harassing us. Stop brutalizing us. Period!
8. We want freedom for all Black men held in federal, state, county, and city prisons and jails.
I believe this point is particularly important for today. The disproportionate number of Black people behind bars needs to be stopped. To do this, I think we need to create a consistent pipeline of Black lawyers and law enforcement officers. I also believe that this means we need to really think deeply about developing leaders from our community. Often, we see Black people emerge in the political landscape, but I believe we need to mold and create the leaders we need starting from a young age.
9. We want all Black people when brought to trial to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their Black communities, as defined by the Constitution of the United States.
I believe the solution to this is the same as above. We need to create pipelines to the legal field to remedy this.
10. We want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace.
This last point, as the summation of the Ten-Point Program, is really important. I do not claim to have all of the answers, but I have ideas. That is what is takes. It takes ideas from all of us. More than ideas, this point in the program takes a collaborative effort on the part of Black people to educate, develop, train, make, deliver and demand!
This last point is the most important because today we need to unite! We need to be, in the words of Issa Rae, “... rooting for everybody Black.”
What do you think about this? Continue the discussion with me on Twitter @justmikeyates.