The Black Panthers and the K.K.K. – Are They Comparable?
Ever since Beyoncé’s Super Bowl 50 halftime performance, there’s been a lot of talk online regarding how offensive it was that she chose to embrace Black Panther imagery. To many people, the Black Panthers are no better than the Klu Klux Klan. However it quickly became apparent to me that many of these people are not familiar with the Black Panther party.
So first, let’s educate ourselves. Let’s first look at the mission statements of the two organizations:
The Black Panther Party:
(paraphrased from the “What We Believe” section of the Ten-Point Program)
The Klu Klux Klan:
(excerpted from a copy of a 1920 pamphlet titled “Ideals of the Ku Klux Klan.“)
Within the last few years, the KKK has made efforts to move away from hate rhetoric however…so maybe the second paragraph no longer applies 😉
Even so the Southern Poverty Law Center still considers the KKK to be a hate organization. It also considers The New Black Panther Party to be as well. But the original Black Panther Party was disbanded in 1982, and many of its members have denounced the New Panthers. Founder Bobby Seale is quoted as saying:
Just to hate another person because [of] the color of their skin or their ethnicity—we don’t do that. That’s not what the goal objective is. The goal objective is human liberation. The goal objective is the greater community cooperation and humanism. The goal objective is to get rid of institutionalized racism…
Another thing that I’m not sure that people realize is that the Black Panther Party had members who were not Black. There were Japanese-American members like Yuri Kochiyama and Richard Aoki. There were many White Americans who supported Huey Newton and the Black Panthers; not because of their separatist ideals, but because of their dedication to self-determination. There were other politically similar groups of other cultures, like Latino, that positioned themselves as allies of the Black Panthers. The Black Panthers also hired non-Black professionals and consultants, like attorney Flint Taylor, who was White. It is pretty safe to say that the KKK has not been able to drum up this type of support from non-White Americans or would hire minorities to work for them in a professional capacity.
And last but not least, the Black Panthers were successfully brought down by the government and today they cease to exist. On the other hand the KKK is still alive and well. To see how the government, the FBI specifically accomplished this, watch the video below. It’s only 30 minutes long, but very informative. At 11:15, former Assistant U.S. District Attorney Jerris Leonard (who is White) even admits that J. Edgar Hoover (who was head of the FBI at the time) exaggerated the dangers of the Black Panther party. This was also confirmed by documents leaked from the FBI break-in in Media, PA in 1971 — where it was quite evident that the government had a mission to take down dissident groups, including the Black Panthers, not based on crimes, but based on their threatening message.
I realize that this post is a bit one-sided. As always I welcome feedback from others; especially if you have something to contribute (pro or con) in regards to the KKK. Just as the Black Panthers built up this overall disapproval from American society, the Klan has as well. Quite frankly, I feel that their poor reputation of the KKK is completely justified; whereas for whatever reason (maybe we are in the Twilight Zone?) the reputation of the Black Panthers has been warped. If you feel that I’m wrong, please tell me in the comments below 🙂