BLACK PANTHERS: Yesterday to Today

I was in middle school and I had to write a paper on a historical figure. I decided to write a paper on the Black Panthers. They were powerful, looked tough as could be and had awesome clothes and carried guns. As a child this is what intrigued me, but when I took a closer look, many positive things about the organization stood out. They simply wanted to stand up and help their local community. Now 50 years later seeing the PBS's documentary, Vanguard of the Revolution,  filmed by Stanley Nelson I brought be back and caught my immediate attention. I’m older, much wiser and realized there was so much more than the outward appearance of any group. I couldn't help but make correlations from what is taking place in the news then to what was taking place in the news today. How can this be? With all this time past, people of the black community are still calling for the same action and rights to be taken. Here is my interpretation of the Black Panthers from yesterday and the current social conflicts of today.
Police Brutality
It seemingly all started with the excessive force and police brutality.
Yesterday: Bobby Hutton, a 17-year-old Black Panther Party member was gunned down when trying to surrender to police. He walked out of the home, shirt off, hands fully extending in the air and was shot down. Another incident in Chicago, Panther member FredHampton was gunned down in his own home while sleeping. He was said to have been shot 45 time.
Today: The recent list of police brutality on young black men could be written about for days, from the case of Amadou Diallo, who was fired on 41 times after retrieving his wallet from his person in order to identify himself, to Laquan McDonald who was shot 16 times by one officer after clearly suffering from some kind of mental disturbance.
The Written Word
Yesterday: I found it interesting that one of the main ways the group made money and the most helpful for spreading their message was the Black Panther News Paper. Not only was this how they were able to finance their programs for the community but it also reached places that they themselves weren’t welcomed. But as long as their words got out, so did their message.
Today: It’s been a long time since you saw someone eagerly waiting for the newspaper. We share our messages differently now. It’s all about social media. During the Ferguson Riots in Saint Louis all of the social media feeds were exploding. With having a global reach messages and personal view were being shared in real time, allowing their messages and feeling to be shared with the world. With the internet and the freedom to write about hot topics, young writers and bloggers can share their messages with the world. 
Media
Yesterday: When the media talked about the Panther Party they portrayed them as angry villains who wanted to go out and kill police for no reason. That they wanted to harm upstanding citizens and wage a war on their surrounding communities. This couldn’t be further from the truth. But when you say the name Black Panther Party, even today, people think of guns and violence thanks to the media.
Today: With all of the recent police killings taking place, the media likes to spin the victim into being this “thug” who wasn’t obeying authority. Take Trayvon Martin for example. A young black kid walking through a white neighborhood wearing baggy clothes and a hoody, with his hands in his pockets. The media desperately wanted his image to be that of a “gang banger” to make the situation that much more tolerable for the American people.
Black on Black Crime
Yesterday: The most intriguing of all the information to me was when they were discussing the split and separation of the two parties. How the government was purposefully releasing false intel to divide the Party from the inside out. This lead to members shooting each other once the split happened. The government was going to sit back and watch them fall apart from the side out without having to lift a finger.

Today: The black on black crime rate in Chicago is at an all-time high right now. Young black people are killing themselves at staggering rates. No matter how many news reporters highlight the violence or documentaries are made on the current situation; the numbers haven’t fallen. The Chicago Police force has been severely diminished due budget cuts, and with the lack of police presence it would look like they are stepping back and letting the situation “take care” of itself. 

In both cases of police brutality, the people had a lack of a positive driven leaders that have the ability to unite everyone in a positive, peaceful, educated way. With having a black (bi-racial) President, wouldn't one think that this is the time for a new modern movement to be forged? Black Lives Matter is what comes to my mind, but don’t all lives matter? Doesn’t every single person living in our great nation deserve the same rights? The right to education, to become a business owner, to work hard and succeed! I say YES it is time for a movement. A time where EVERYONE should come together and take a look at our past so we can build a better future!

"I am a revolutionary!"
Fred Hampton


By: Megan Nikole
Just a dame in the Life
www.megannikole.com





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