Black History Highlight
HUEY P. NEWTON
courtesy of BIOGRAPHY.COM
Civil Rights/Social Activist Huey Percy Newton was born on this day February 17, back in 1942, in Monroe, Louisiana. Newton helped establish the African-American political organization the Black Panther Party, and became a leading figure in the Black Power movement of the 1960s.
Despite his legal run-ins, Newton began to take his education seriously. Although he graduated high school in 1959, Newton barely knew how to read. He became his own teacher, learning to read by himself. In the mid-1960s, Newton decided to pursue his education at Merritt College.
The Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Unlike many of the other social and political organizers of the time, they took a militant stance, advocating the ownership of guns by African Americans, and were often seen brandishing weapons. A famous photograph shows Newton—the group’s minister of defense—holding a gun in one hand and a spear in the other.
The group believed that violence—or the threat of violence—might be needed to bring about social change. They set forth their political goals in a document called the Ten-Point Program, which included better housing, jobs, and education for African Americans. It also called for an end to economic exploitation of black communities. Still the organization itself was not afraid to punctuate its message with a show of force. For example, to protest a gun bill in 1967, Newton and other members of the Panthers entered the California Legislature fully armed. The action was a shocking one that made news across the country. And Newton emerged as a leading figure in the black militant movement.
The Black Panthers wanted to improve life in black communities and establish social programs to help those in need. They also fought against police brutality in black neighborhoods by mostly white cops. Members of the group would go to arrests in progress and watch for abuse. Newton himself was arrested in 1967 for allegedly killing an Oakland police officer during a traffic stop. He was later convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sentenced to two to 15 years in prison. But public pressure—”Free Huey” became a popular slogan of the day—helped Newton’s cause. The case was eventually dismissed after two retrials ended with hung juries.
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The video below is
PRELUDE TO THE REVOLUTION
Check out time marker 29:20 -30:25 in which Huey discusses the court system in the United States. It is ironic how almost 40 years later people share the same sentiment regarding the court system following the recent verdict in the Michael Dunn Trial.