The BPP advocated and practiced armed self-defense of black communities against what they viewed as the "foreign occupying force" of racist white police. The Party sought to establish self-determination for American blacks, demanding a UN-supervised plebiscite in which blacks would vote on whether to remain part of the United States. In addition, it started programs like Breakfast for Children in black communities, and political education. The Party also strove to end drug use in the African American community, disrupting the operations of drug dealers, distributing anti-drug propaganda, and setting up community drug rehabilitation programs. Some members ran for office on the Peace and Freedom Party ticket.
Initially, they funded their operations by selling copies of Chairman Mao's Little Red Book to liberal white college students. It is clear that the Panthers were Maoists: Bobby Seale specifically told Huey Newton to read Mao's Red Book and substitute the word "Black" for "Chinese" and the term Black Panther Party for Communist Party.
They used the proceeds to fund the purchase of firearms, which they took with them while "patrolling the cops", that is, following policeman along their routes and intervening (or at least observing) if the police abused their power.
They expanded by adding offices across the United States and produced a newspaper, Black Panther, with a circulation of approximately 125,000, and showing a portrait of Huey P. Newton on the cover of every issue. They were a frequent and heavy target of the FBI COINTELPRO program.
On December 4, 1969, the FBI and Chicago Police raided the home of Fred Hampton. The people inside the home had been drugged by an FBI informant, William O'Neal[?], and were all asleep at the time of the raid. Fred Hampton was shot and killed, as was the guard, Mark Clark. The others in the home were then dragged into the street and beaten and subsequently charged with assault. These charges were later dropped.
Members of the original Black Panther Party have been publicly and adamantly critical of later groups who use the Party's name. For example, the Dr. Huey P. Newton Foundation[?] insists that there "is no new Black Panther Party[?]".
Famous Black Panther Party members:
Seale, Bobby. (1968). Seize the time. Black Classic Press; Reprint edition (September 1997).