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What is the history of the Black Panther Party?

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Quick Answer

The Black Panther Party originated in 1966 in Oakland, California. The party formed as a response to what the party believed were ineffectual nonviolent civil rights protests of Martin Luther King Jr. and his followers. Huey Percy Newton and Bobby Seale founded the party on a platform of violence in the face of those who would try to stifle the civil rights movement. Due to their mandate of violence, the FBI worked to end the party's influence.

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The Black Panther Party based their work on four ideals: equality in education, housing, employment and civil rights. In 1967, the group protested a gun bill by marching into the California Legislature fully armed. That same year Newton was convicted of killing an Oakland police officer but never served time because the case was dismissed after two hung juries. In 1968, more engagements with the police ended in the death of Bobby Hutton, the party's treasurer.

The Black Panther's began to lose momentum in 1969 when the FBI began raiding groups and arresting or killing members, such as the raid in Chicago on December 4 that resulted in the deaths of members Fred Hampton, 21, and Mark Clark, 22. The party's final demise occurred in 1971 when Newton left the country for Cuba to avoid further criminal prosecution.

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