Black Panther Party


Eldridge Cleaver Interview by Nat Hentoff, 1968

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was formed in Oakland, California in 1966 by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton.  Because Bobby Seale was on a strict probation and Huey Newton was in jail, the Minister of Information Eldridge Cleaver was running the Black Panther Party in 1968.  To begin his interiew, Cleaver describes the ten points of the Black Panther Party:

"1. We want freedom; we want power to determine the destiny of our black communities.

2. We want full employment for our people.

3. We want housing fit for the shelter of human beings.

4. We want all black men exempt from military service.

5. We want decent education for black people-education that teaches us the true nature of this decadent, racist society and that teaches young black brothers and sisters their rightful place in society; for if they don't know thier place in society and the world, they can't relate to anything else.

6. We want an end to the robbery of black people in their own community by white-racist businessmen.

7. We want an immediate end of police brutality and murder of black people.

8. We want all black men held in city, county, state, and Federal jails to be released, because they haven't had fair trials; they've been tried by all-white juries...


Huey Newton Interview by Lee Lockwood

9. We want black people accused of crimes to be tried by members of their own peer group...

10. We want land, we want money, we want housing, we want clothing, we want education, we want justice, we want peace."

Cleaver says that violence may be used to achieve these goals, but justifies it in that it is ultimately self-defense for past treatments.  This is how the goal of peace is not a contradiction; the Party will only use violence when violence is used against them first.

This way of achieving the goals of the Party is at odds with Hefner's Philosophy.  This can be seen in the interviewer's intense questioning about the violence and revolution that the Party wants to achieve, as well as his inquiries about Cleaver's rough criminal past and Cleaver's views on rape, though at this point Cleaver claimed to have changed the latter.  Hefner always tried to make change within the system, something the Party did not always agree with.

Cleaver was forced to flee the country shortly after his Playboy interview for his role in a shootout with police officers, but in 1971 Huey Newton won his freedom when his incarceration ended after his charges were dismissed.  In his interview, Newton expressed his regret at naming Cleaver the leader of the Black Panthers while Newton and Seale were in jail.  The change in leadership is immediately evident, not in their goals, but in a relaxation of the extreme militancy that had become a part of the Party.  The Panthers would still practice self-defense; however, after this loosening of the reins, the community involvement of the Black Panther Party was more evident.  The Panthers started free breakfast programs in inner-city communities, held classes to improve literacy among African-Americans, and helped with helathcare in the ghettoes.

Interviews with Leaders
Black Panther Party