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Hey there, it's Mango hosts, a part time genius, co-founder of Mental Floss, and like many of you, I'm one of the 21 million people that have picked up gardening in the past six months. That's why I'm hosting the brand new podcast, Humans Growing Stopped, Brought to You by Heart Media and your friends at Miracle-Gro join me on a green adventure as we talk with experts, friends and surprise guests and hear what gardening means to them.


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We're here to help you make sense of it all, from current events to science, art and pop culture. We'll talk to experts and special guests and hear from young people just like you. Listen to the Sun News on the I Heart radio app, Apple podcast or wherever you get your podcasts with new episodes every Tuesday and Thursday.


Hey, everybody, it's me, Josh. And for this week's As Ask Selex, I've chosen how the Black Panther Party worked.


And I think you probably know why I did.


I know a lot of people listen to stuff you should know as an escape from the rest of the world, from the terribleness of news and politics and all of that stuff. And we get that.


And we're actually grateful that we can provide that kind of distraction for people under normal circumstances.


But these aren't normal circumstances. And right now is not a time to be distracted and it's definitely not a time to be silent. And so I hope that you will listen to this episode about the history of the struggle for civil rights and human rights that black people in America have had to undertake, and that it helps you understand better the struggle that's going on in America right now.


And I know that a lot of people who listen to stuff you should know don't necessarily agree with this politically. That's fine. We get that. That's wonderful, too. But we don't have to agree politically to agree that human rights matter for everybody. And right now, every single one of us, every single one of you listening to my voice right.


This moment has a once in a lifetime opportunity to do something about it, to stand up and to use your voice to help other people be treated equally and make this country a better place. You can't argue with that. More people having more human rights can only make America a better place.


Just being a stuff you should know this in her means that you love to learn. Well, now is a really, really good time to learn about what life has been like all of these years for people of color in America.


And I hope you will. I hope you'll open your hearts and your minds to all the people who are trying to teach us right now. Thanks for listening and thanks for listening. Welcome to Stuff You Should Know. A production of pilot radios HowStuffWorks. Hey, and welcome to the podcast, I'm Josh Clark, and there is Charles W. Bryant. It's just the two of us. No producer today. We're producer free, just the two of us. We can make it if we try.


Yeah, let's try. Chuck Undie. Right. Uh, I think we're both pretty excited about this one. Yeah. This is going to be a good one.


I love my history, as do you. Sure.


Especially contemporary history and especially history that I didn't get taught in high school. I don't remember learning much about the Black Panthers now in high school. None.


So, Charles, you didn't know much about the Black Panthers? I didn't either. A little bit. Yeah. I would guess we were probably in about the same the same boat.


You know, I went to college.


Yeah, I don't recall learning much in college about them either, but I guess, I mean, I knew a little bit here, there some of the highlights, but it was it was in researching that I realized, like, just how much if you if you don't actually go research it, just how how completely wrong a lot of this stuff is and not just in detail, but in like overall tone, as you know, like you get the idea that the Black Panthers were nothing but like racist terrorists who basically wanted to kill all whites and take over the White House.


Not true. No, no, not really.


And after further digging, it turns out that a lot of their image that that most people have today who don't really know much about the Black Panthers, that idea comes from a misinformation and smear campaign carried out very purposefully by the FBI back in the 60s and 70s.


Yes, by boy, I mean. Let's just call him divisive at the risk of smearing someone. But has there ever been a more divisive individual in this country, perhaps? Well, who knows now? But J. Edgar Hoover. Yeah, I mean, my God, FBI director for life.


I mean, I want to say we should do a podcast on him, but it would definitely be a two parter because he worked for one hundred and eighty seven years.


Well, I should say that smear campaign and there was a lot of other stuff to the campaign as well beyond just smearing. But it had a name, COINTELPRO counterintelligence program. Yeah. And that in and of itself deserves its own one or two parter. Episode two.


Yeah. I mean at one point J. Edgar Hoover came out in the news and said that the Black Panther Party was the single greatest threat to the United States of America. Right. And this was during the Vietnam War. I mean it.


For the uninformed, like you said, people, you know, thought, all right, well, and it was not coincidentally from that point forward is when the cops really were like, all right, we can we truly don't have to even respect civil liberties at this point. Right. We can go in and shoot people in their sleep. Right, exactly.


And what's crazy, Chuck, is when he said that it was less than three years after the Black Panther Party was formed. Yeah. So let's go back to the beginning.


Actually, we'll go back before even the founding of the Black Panthers just to provide some context, right? Yes. So this is the roughly the tail end of the Jim Crow era, right?


Right before. Right at the New Deal era.


And if you were black in America, your experience, whether it was in the South where it was just even more openly and overtly hostile or in the cities of the north, you were probably just statistically speaking, it was likely that you were poor, that you probably had routine, especially if you were a black man, especially a black man under a certain age, that you were routinely mistreated, harassed, beaten or possibly murdered by police.


And there was a tremendous amount of racial tension as a result, right?


Yeah, not just up north. I mean, we're talking pretty much any major city. Right.


And but especially in the south and the south, actually, there was a guy whose name was Robert Williams and he was NAACP leader in North Carolina, and he wrote a book back and I think 1965, and he called it Negroes with Guns and advocated blacks arming themselves and carrying out violence in self-defense in the face of this racial mistreatment.


Right. Yeah. And he Williams actually kind of codified or enshrined in the book form, this idea that was pretty predominant among Southern blacks.


It was like, look, this this is stuff is real and we need to defend ourselves.


Yeah. And that idea spread a little bit to the cities here, there.


And it germinated in the minds of a couple of guys, a couple of college kids in Oakland named Bobby Seale and Huey Newton.


Yes. And they officially formed it was called the Black Panther Party for self-defense. Initially, it was eventually truncated in Oakland in 1966. And there well, you know, we'll go through there because they had sort of a roller coaster ride of as far as what they did as a group and as a party. But initially, kind of the whole thing was self-defense. We need to defend ourselves against police brutality. Right. And this non-violent civil rights movement is is great.


We love Martin Luther King Jr. and what he's doing. But it's going to slowly. And in the meantime, we're getting beaten and killed in the streets by law enforcement. So we need to do something. We need to be proactive and do something about that.


Right, exactly.


And Robert Williams may have written the book, but that the the guys who formed the Black Panthers, Seale and Newton, they were the first black rights group to advocate militancy, although, again, you have to point out like they advocated violence in self-defense, not aggression, right?


Yeah. Which is why they specifically chose the Black Panther as their, I guess you say mascot, but as their name mascot makes it sound like a baseball game or something. Right. But there's a quote here from Bobby Seale, co-founder, and he said that Huey Newton said, you know, the nature of a panther. I looked it up. If you push it into a corner, that Panther is going to try and move left or right to get you to get out of the way.


But if you keep pushing back into that corner, sooner or later, that panther is going to come out of that corner and try and wipe out who keeps oppressing in that corner. And that was sort of the idea like, hey, listen, we're trying to sidestep we're trying to do the right thing. But if you keep coming at us, then we're going to defend ourselves.


Yeah, exactly. And again, they were the first people to come up with this and they looked around and kind of surveyed the black rights movements that were around. There were and they kind of said this one works a little bit, but that part of it doesn't work. Or this this one we don't agree with. But it's a nice sentiment like the MLK nonviolent civil rights movement. Like you said, they said this isn't working. It's not happening fast enough or it's not happening at all.


And some other groups and people like Stokely Carmichael and Rap Brown, who were the heads of the Nonviolent Student Coordinating Committee, were some of the first black leaders to publicly break with MLK. Non-violent theory and say, no, we need to meet violence with violence. Malcolm X was another one and Malcolm X probably had the biggest influence on the Black Panther ideology than anybody else. Yeah, he advocated black militancy that included violence.


He advocated black self-sufficiency and dignity.


But he didn't necessarily say you you were only going to advance with the help of other blacks. We need to exclude whites or other races from our struggle. And the Black Panthers, specifically Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, really identify with that. And that was actually that became one of the hallmarks of the Black Panthers that they were willing to work with other like minded groups regardless of race. Oh, yeah. So that's a that was kind of a big one that I wasn't aware of, that I learned from this.


And then the the other aspect of Malcolm X that really formed, like one of the foundation keystones of the Black Panther ideology, is that it wasn't race that was the problem.


It was class. They were basically avowed Marxists, right? Yeah. The central theme, the central issue that created the struggle was was class was capitalism, and that the white establishment and the police and the government were keepers of the capitalist structure. And that same capitalist structure was keeping the black the black people in America down. And so to get to to rise up, to become self-sufficient, to get that chance that they needed to grow and advance themselves, they had to get rid of the capitalist structure itself.


Yeah, they were very much into the socialist ideal. And one of the first things they did was they realized they needed sort of an a foundation on which to build upon something easily digestible that people could could look at and could read and understand what they're all about. So very smartly. Early on, they came up with a very specific what they called their ten point program, what we want and what we believe. And they wrote this out. We're going to read them in a second.


But they wrote them out and then immediately printed them on a thousand sheets of paper and set up an office and started passing these things around. This office was in Oakland, which is where, you know, I think we already said where they found it. And, you know, they basically quit their jobs. Every member of the Black Panther Party was a full time, I guess you could say employee, but full time worker. Member. Yeah, member.


And they gathered their paychecks, the few guys at the very beginning, and rented an old shop storefront base and started handing out this ten point program. Yeah, they did.


And you want to go over the program first? Yeah.


We might as well just go ahead and read all ten so everybody knows what we're talking about. Right. Number one, we want freedom. We want power to determine the destiny of our black community. We believe that black people will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny. Yeah.


Number two, we want full employment for our people. We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the white American businessmen will not give full employment, then the means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give it a high standard of living.


Number three, we want an end to the robbery by the white man of our black community. We believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of 40 acres and two mules.


Number four, we want decent housing fit for shelter of human beings. We believe that if white landlords will not give decent housing to our black community, then the housing in the land should be made into cooperatives so that our community with government aid can build and make decent housing for its people.


Yeah, and that was a big one. And as you'll see, a lot of what they were after was just like. The ability to live in a neighborhood where you could have a decent school and a decent place to live and a chance at work like it was some radical thing that they were after, you know, they just wanted the same opportunities, basically.


Yeah. And I mean, I said earlier that if if you were living and you were black and living in America in the 60s, the chances are you were poor, 32 percent of all black people, all black people in the United States were living below the poverty line in 1966.




Percent of the poor living in metropolitan areas were black.


And in 1968, two thirds of the black population lived in ghettos.




So, yeah, I like of course, it makes sense that their agenda is we want to just get to get to basic normal and go from there.


All right. Number five, we want education for our people. That exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in present day society.


Number six, we want all black men to be exempt from military service. This is a big one. We believe that black people should not be forced to fight in the military service to defend a racist government that does not protect us. We will not fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like black people, are being victimized by the white racist government of America. Yeah.


And, you know, later on in there, during the Vietnam War, they actually some of them traveled to Vietnam and kind of found a common ground with the North Vietnamese. Right. It's very interesting.


Is it my turn? It is.


Number seven. We want an immediate end to police brutality and murder of black people.


And it pretty much speaks for itself.


Yeah, but part of that was that they they they point out that the Second Amendment to the Constitution guarantees the right to bear arms. And that's going to be a big, big part of the Black Panther Party. They were they're credited historically as being basically the ones who pointed to the Second Amendment and said, hey, we we're advocates of gun rights. Yeah, well, we'll get to all that, it gets pretty juicy at number eight, we want freedom for all black men held in federal, state, county and city prisons and jails.


It says that they believe that all black people should be released from prison because they have not received a fair and impartial trial.


Number nine, we want all black people, when brought to trial, to be tried in court by a jury of their peer group or people from their black communities as defined by the Constitution of the United States.


Number 10, we want land, bread, housing, education, clothing, justice and peace. And as our major political objective, a United Nations supervised plebiscite to be held throughout the black colony in which only black colonial subjects will be allowed to participate for the purpose of determining the will of black people as to their national destiny. They were basically saying, we believe that blacks should have the power to separate from the United States, from the white establishment and form their own self-sufficient and respected self-governing body, basically.




So they took these this 10 point program. They founded a newspaper called the Black Panther, and they sold that for 25 cents. It got to be a very popular newspaper, had a really wide circulation. And it wasn't just, you know, black communities. There were there were all kinds of people reading this newspaper. And it kind of aside from donations and stuff from various groups, it really kind of funded the organization was the sale of this paper.


Right. And every single issue, I believe, featured this ten point program on the inside cover.


And quick shout out to the artwork of Emory Douglas, if you've ever saw this great documentary called The Black Panthers Vanguard of a Revolution. Yeah, I watch that, too. And this artwork from this, you know, artist and graphic designer Emory Douglas that was kind of the hallmark of the paper, was just gorgeous stuff. And I think he's one of those has sort of not been lost to history. But, you know, I had never heard of him before.


And I think he did a cover for one of the editions of Native Son.


Oh, really? Because I was looking I was like, that looks really familiar. Yeah, that's where I saw it before.


It's really good stuff. Yeah.


So, Chuck, we've got the 10 point plan and the the the original headquarters in Oakland and all of a sudden the Panthers start spreading like wildfire like their ideas, because the experience was so similar as far as poverty and being harassed and brutalized by police and just generally being held down by the white establishment. Since that experience was so similar throughout all the all the major cities and even smaller cities in the United States. Yeah, the Black Panther Party spread pretty quick and eventually they had something like 5000 members.


And remember, that doesn't sound that much like that many people. But like you said, to be a member, you were committed to the Black Panther Party 24/7. You had to quit your job. You had to quit school. And your your life was the Black Panther Party. Yeah. So the fact that they had 5000 people doing that around the country is pretty nuts. But there are many, many more supporters. And the Black Panther newspaper eventually grew to a circulation of about 250000.


It's amazing. It really is. And.


Well, I guess we'll get back to their history after this. Hi, this is Hillary Clinton, host of the new podcast, You and Me both, there's a lot to be anxious and worried about right now, and it's made so much worse by the fact that we can't be together. So I find myself on the phone a lot, talking with friends, experts, really anyone who can help make some sense of these challenging times. These conversations have been a lifeline for me.


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Joshua. All right, so if you want to start. If you want to start anything that you want to grow and be noticed, then it sounds kind of silly to talk about, but you need to be good at branding. Yeah, it's true. And I don't know that they specifically thought about it as branding initially, but they quickly realized that the media really ate this stuff up when these black men in in leather, black leather car coats and black turtlenecks and black berets donning shotguns with the, you know, the ammunition draped around their shoulder, the press ate it up.


It was it was a cool look in young black men wanted to look like this. Black women started growing out their afros.


It was all kind of sort of tied into the black is beautiful movement, which was sort of just the notion of embrace your blackness, don't try to fit in and look, you know, don't straighten your hair. Don't try and look like white people, like wear your dashiki, grow your afro out. Be proud of who you are as a black person. Embrace your roots. And the Black Panther Party was really tied into this and it became a really big part of their branding and recruitment.


Yeah, if you were hip at this time, like you were definitely hip to the Black Panther.


Look, even if you hadn't adopted it yourself, you were like, there's a cool cat walking down the street with a bandolier of bullets in a shock.




So the the Panthers, they had the look, they had the officers. Now they had the newspaper. And one of the first things they started doing even before they really started to spread. But those first Panther members, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, and then a guy named Bobby Hutton was their first recruit.


One of the first things they started doing was patrolling the neighborhoods of Oakland and looking for police who had stopped black motorists.


Yeah, it was almost like a guardian angels that protected citizens from cops. Right, exactly.


That's a really good way to put it. Right. So they would stay in there at a reasonable distance and just openly and obviously observe the traffic stop. Yeah. And they would shout at the cop any time he started to violate the civil rights of the black driver and they were armed.


They were holding shotguns, oftentimes not necessarily pointed at the cops. But in that in that documentary we mentioned, they would talk about how like they would kind of bring it. Let's move it from side to side. Right. Kind of shifting position.


And as it did, it slowly was aim for a moment at the cop.


And the cop got the point like, yeah, I get it. You have a loaded shotgun and it's right there.


And you could shoot me and some of the first some of the first traffic stop monitoring that happened just scared the bejesus out of the cops.


They they never experienced anything like this before.


Yeah. All of a sudden, there were a group of young black men standing there in blackberries and shades at night holding shotguns, trained on them from time to time. And the cops actually responded in exactly the way the Black Panthers did. They were much more hesitant to brutalize or violate the civil rights of the drivers. And a lot of times they just get in their cars and leave, especially if they were on patrol alone.




So that was one of the huge early foundational hallmarks of of the Black Panther Party that they were openly and Ahmedi, protecting their fellow blacks from police brutality. That was that was one of their major roles.


Yeah. And the reason that they were allowed to have these guns is because one of their one of their leaders, Eldridge Cleaver, found in the California law books that I mean, they call it a loophole, but it wasn't really a loophole. It's kind of right there in black and white is you are allowed to carry a gun in public on public property as long as it's not concealed. Right. Open carry law. And so they were like, all right, well, we have these guns.


It says right here we're allowed to they would carry a gun in one hand a lot of times, and then this California legal handbook and the other. And they knew it by heart. They could quote exactly the code. And then, you know, obviously the cops called on the word, got around what was going on, and it developed all the way to the California General Assembly.


And when you see this documentary, it's it's amazing, man. These these black the Black Panther Party marches through the building onto the floor of the California General Assembly, wielding shotguns, loaded shotguns. And, you know, you see all of the obviously the white legislature just sitting there like, what in the world is going on? Including Ronald Reagan? Well, yeah, he was the governor, right? So Ronald Reagan was the governor at the time and he is in that documentary quoted as saying, like anybody who thinks, you know, carrying a weapon loaded guns in public is OK, is out of his mind and ultimately signed a antidoping carry law that close that loophole.


Yeah, the Melford Act.


Right. So Reagan signed some gun control legislation, big gun control legislation in an effort to curb those patrols by the Black Panthers. Yeah.


And so obviously, you hear all right, Ronald Reagan does this. You think, where's the NRA? And so I looked up. I was like, all right. Well, it was just the climate at the time. Apparently in the late 60s, NRA, it wasn't until the late 70s, 1977, when a guy named Harlan Carter took over the NRA is when they really stepped it up with the Second Amendment rights, the really more strict version of the Second Amendment right.


And so the NRA was silent and obviously Reagan being very tough on guns. He had a I guess you could call it conversion in the 1980s as well. And then he and the NRA teamed up together and started saying things like, well, no, it's it's OK. You can totally have guns. Right.


This also happened to coincide with the breakup of the Black Panther Party. Yeah.


When that when the NRA and Reagan changed their stance on gun rights. Yes. One thing you said was that it was Eldridge Cleaver who noticed the loophole. It was Huey Newton. He was the one who who really had that mind for law. Eldridge Cleaver was much more the militant revolutionary. Yeah. And he was already a bit of a darling in the intellectual circles for a book of essays he'd written in prison called Soul on Ice. Yeah.


And so he joined the Black Panther Party pretty early on as their minister of information, in large part their official spokesman.


And he brought an air of real credibility and legitimacy and got a lot of left leaning intellectuals. And, you know, entertainment types like Brando was a big one who was in favor of the party and supporter. Yeah, but they they really started to pay attention to the Black Panthers when Eldridge Cleaver joined.


Yeah. And his wife, Kathleen Cleaver, was also one of the. Well, we might as well go and talk about women in the Black Panther Party. Yeah.


Uh, you know, like most organizations at the time, it was it was sort of from the top down down a male driven organization. And, uh, they did have Kathleen Cleaver and they had Elaine Brown, who was also sort of one of the higher ups. But it was still and even they admitted it was still somewhat of a chauvinistic organization. And most of the women were, uh, didn't make it past what they called the rank and file, sort of operating the nuts and bolts secretary or secretarial work and just kind of making the thing go.


So it was, you know, on one hand, they did give women some positions of power, but never kind of at the top.


Well, no, there were I mean, like you said, you name two of the big, big exception to that rule. But they were big exceptions, like Kathleen Cleaver was the first woman who was a member of the Decision-Making body. And Elaine Brown took over as chair party chair, like the top official after Huey Newton split for Cuba in 1973. But like you said, most of the women in the Black Panther Party were rank and file. But it doesn't mean that gender roles were totally rigid in the party.


Like, for example, you would just as often or frequently see women out armed doing patrols of the neighborhood.


Yeah, while men were the ones responsible for some of the survival programs, the community programs that we'll talk about.


Yeah, well, Brown said they tried that and had minor successes. I was there. Yeah. In the documentary, she said that was sort of what she tried to do is reverse some of the roles. And she said there was still kind of largely a sexist attitude and which was a problem within the organization, because you can't be that true community organization if you have that oppression going on within your own group. Well, in a gender sense, yeah.


And especially if, you know, women are the ones who are doing a lot of the actual work, like something like 50 to 70 percent of Panther membership was female. Yeah. At one point.


So, yeah, you got to respect the people who are actually doing the work or else you've got an arrogance problem at the top.


Yeah. And we should mention too that Kathleen Cleaver is a professor right here in Atlanta at our own Emory University. Yeah. What law professor. Yeah. Yeah. She went on to get a law degree from Yale and after years of living in exile, which will get to. All right, so you mentioned the survival programs, and if you don't know what that is, you might be saying like what in the world is Josh talking about?


They had their police brutality program. So that's kind of what made the news, was patrolling the streets with these guns, keeping the cops in check. And by the way, we should mention that they're the ones who came up with the term pigs as a derogatory term for police officers. Yeah, from the first appeared in their newspaper and it caught on pretty quick.


Yeah. So that was that was kind of what they made the news for at first. But I think especially Huey Newton realized early on that they could make a real difference in the community if they get these social programs going that, you know, they're not being taken care of, their schools are bad. These kids don't have access to, like, good food even. And they read that, you know, scientifically speaking, that a good breakfast is has a big impact on how a child learns throughout the day.


So they started this breakfast program where they would give I mean, I think at one point they were feeding like twenty thousand children free breakfasts around the country every day, every day, every morning, 20000 children around the country who otherwise would have gone to school hungry and stayed hungry the whole day, ate breakfast because the Black Panther Party fed them every day, every school day around the country.


That's insane.


Yeah, they started medical clinics, free clinics called the People's Free Medical Center. They offered vaccines, testing for diseases, treated basic illnesses, cancer screenings, basically the social services that white America fully enjoyed, or I should say white America of a certain class, fully enjoyed and started offering up these programs, which kind of became one of the hallmarks of the party. Yeah, they weren't just this militant group trying to, you know, keep cops in check any longer.


No, no.


Then that was a huge, huge I mean, that was as big, if not bigger than their their militant objectives. Is serving the community through these survival programs, too, right?




And they funded these programs largely through donations, which they would go out and solicit from the community around the cities. Right? Yeah.


And apparently, if you at least didn't give something, if you were like, no, I'm not giving you a dime, the Panthers would without you in their newspaper and call for a boycott of your business that, you know, saying, like, these guys care so little that they won't even chip in a dollar for kids to have free breakfast.




So they had like a real they had a pretty serious organization going by this time that was directed again, not just that patrolling police and fighting police brutality, but also at serving the community.


Yeah, one of the cool things they did was they started the Oakland Community School. Yeah, that was Elaine Brown. Yeah. And it was kind of her passion project. And it was it was pretty much free to students. And they had they had small classes, they taught poetry, they taught foreign language and current events. They taught yoga, like all these things that the black community had never, you know, had access to. Black history is obviously a big part of it.


They had Maya Angelou and Rosa Parks and other civil rights leaders come in and speak at the school. And it operated for nine, nine years from 73 to 82. And Kathleen Cleaver has this one great story that she told on CNN about one young man who came to join the party because, you know, he wanted to get a gun and be on the patrol. They handed him a stack of books and he looked at him and said, I thought, you're going to Army.


And they said, back to him, I just did. Pretty good. Yeah, she dropped the microphone. Yes, she absolutely did, but I mean, that directly relates to, I think, point number five on the ten point agenda where it says that they want education for people, that that teaches them about themselves, that gives them a knowledge of self said that if a man doesn't have knowledge of himself and his position in society, in the world, that he has little chance to relate to anything else.


Yeah, which is exceptionally true. Yeah.


So you've got all these programs.


I think they had like 65 programs, what they called survival programs in place.


And it wasn't until apparently these programs were starting to really roll and get the attention of and support of a lot of people outside of the communities even that the FBI, led by Jack Hoover, gave its full attention to the Black Panthers and they set about trying to destroy the Black Panther Party.


Well, yeah.


I mean, Hoover ironically, these social programs are what scared him the most because he knew that that's how you're going to get white liberals on board on this cause. Yeah, which is exactly what happened. I mean, like you said, they weren't they didn't shun the help of the white man by any means. They, like, went arm in arm with these white lefties, basically watch the documentaries. It looks like today, you know, these college dudes with beards.


Yeah. They look like modern hipsters. Yeah. And worked arm in arm. And at one point they even got together. Who was the Appalachian group, the Young Patriots.


Yeah, it's just like you see this video of these black militants, like given handshakes and hugs to these Appalachian white Appalachian I mean, rural white people. Right. Who all seem like they were like we have the same problems and we can just get together. And it was it's just crazy, especially in today's climate all these years later to see that happening back then.


Yeah, I mean, they were in favor of anybody regardless, as long as they shared, you know, kind of the same sentiments or the same struggle.


In 1970, Huey Newton became the first black leader to ever publicly support gays and lesbians. Yeah, that was a huge deal, too. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.


Well, I mean, the point was like, you know, the problem wasn't race. The problem was this class struggle. And, you know, everybody of a certain socioeconomic status or who is a worker is being held back, you know.


So you were saying Hoover was worried about those social programs? Yes. There's a quote from a letter that he wrote to an FBI agent who objected to targeting the survival programs as part of COINTELPRO. Yeah.


Hoover said you state the bureau should not interfere in programs such as the Breakfast for Children because many prominent humanitarians, both white and black, are interested in the program as well as churches which are actively supporting it. You obviously have missed the point.


And his point was that you don't leave those programs alone because they have support outside of the community.


You target them because they have support outside of the community that that was the real threat and the way more than black men patrolling the streets with shotguns, that was a problem for local law enforcement. And the FBI was worried about it.


But more to the point, they saw that as such a flashpoint, a potential flashpoint, that they could get the police to shoot and kill armed black men on the street with with impunity.


Yeah, I think that they could deal with that is what they understood was meeting violence with violence, what they didn't know how to deal with, aside from completely subverting it and sabotaging it, was generating goodwill throughout the community through these social programs. So that was the real threat to Hoover and his eyes.


Amazing. So at this point, um, the party at the top had gotten a little the foundation had gotten a little loose due to a couple of things going back in time a little bit. A few years before Huey Newton was arrested and convicted of killing a police officer, which it on one hand, it sort of removed one of the one of the pieces of the foundation, which made it a little bit weaker at the top. On the other hand, it really got people around this free Huey Newton campaign.


Yeah, that was Cleaver's phrase. Yeah. Free Huey. Yeah.


And again, the white liberals got on board and it kind of swept the nation that basically Huey Newton was involved in a shootout with the cops and was, they thought, wrongfully imprisoned and kind of railroaded through the system. And so in one sense, it sort of galvanized the movement in another any to. One of the leaders is is operating out of jail, then that's that's not good, and he wasn't the only one, actually, I think all three.


Of the original, Bobby Seale was in and out of jail a couple of times, and I think by this point, too, Cleaver had fled the country to avoid jail and ended up in Algeria.


He did so back in 1968 as part of a patrol Cleaver and Bobby Hutton, who was the first recruit of the Black Panthers and by this time was the treasurer of the Oakland chapter. They were part of a patrol that ended up was pulled over by two cops, and those two cops ended up dead. And everybody in the car fled. And Hutten and Cleaver fled to a basement where they got in a shootout for 90 minutes with police and the police threw in tear gas.


And the tear gas, I guess, exploded in the basement on fire. Yeah. So Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Hutton decided that they were going to surrender. So they came out with their hands up unarmed, and they cops surrounded them and shot Hutton in the head. Just executed him right there on the sidewalk.


Yeah. And Cleaver was taken to jail. He made bail. And right when he made bail, he's like, see you.


Yeah, he split. He went to Cuba because Fidel Castro was a long time and big supporter of the Black Panther Party. Sure.


There's apparently still one of them, a modest Sakuya, I believe, who is living still in exile in Cuba today, who is a Black Panther by Eldridge Cleaver, I guess, didn't like the climate, ended up with Kathleen Cleaver in Algeria and formed the the international chapter of the Black Panther Party.


And that's where they would receive dignitaries from like the North Vietnamese government or from Cuba or any kind of left leaning revolutionary group would come meet them there.


And that was enormous because like basically no other black liberation or black rights movement group had genuine, legitimate international support.


The Black Panthers did. And in the eyes of the world, that boosted their credibility just through the roof.


Oh, yeah. All right.


So there's a bit of a, uh, I don't want to say power vacuum, but slight leadership vacuum because of the various top original founders being away from Oakland, either in jail or Algeria or in and out of jail. And it could have potentially been filled by a young man out of Chicago named Fred Hampton. And we will get back to Fred's story right after this.


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Listening to humans growing stuff on the I Heart radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcast. Nadine Storrier, Joshua. All right, so Fred Hampton, by all accounts, from this documentary in my research seem like he could have been the Bobby Kennedy of the Black Panther Party. Well put. He was vivacious. He was a great speaker. He was you know, he would he would give these speeches and just galvanize people. He had a great personality and he was really getting kind of the movement back on track again in a big, big way when he was pretty much, I can say, pretty much when he was politically assassinated by the FBI and Chicago Police Department.


Yeah, he was executed for sure. So what was the 1969 year?


December 4th is when the raid went down. So it's something like for a sometime in the wee hours, the cops kicked in the door, Fred Hampton's house or the house where he was staying and 90 bullets.


I think I saw 90.


Also saw one hundred ninety bullets were shot, fired from the Chicago Police Department and one bullet was shot by the Black Panthers. And that bullet was shot when the bodyguard to Fred Hampton, his name was Mark Clark, was shot and killed and dropped the shotgun he was holding. And it went off. Yeah.


And we should mention, too, this was one of many, many what they called raids after Hoover issued that edict that they were the the largest. And I'm sure there was an internal memo as well, which we don't know about. But when he issued that edict that they were the most threatening group to the United States democracy, it was pretty much open season. And they carried out these raids all over the country where essentially cops would just kick in doors guns blazing.


Yeah, shoot first, ask don't even ask questions.


Yeah, but this one was a little more even even worse. It was even more pronounced because this was targeted this. Yes, exactly. And it was targeted specifically for Fred Hampton. And it kind of falls in line with this part of COINTELPRO or COINTELPRO. This one of the the foundations of COINTELPRO was that it it sought to prevent the rise of a black messiah that could consolidate the masses. And that was Fred Hampton, right? Well, he definitely fell in that.


So as MLK so was Malcolm X. Right. Basically, any black leader that was assassinated definitely fell within that. So Fred Hampton did as well for sure. So he was assassinated not by the FBI, but by the Chicago PD. But the Chicago PD were able to carry out a targeted raid because the FBI had supplied them with a map drawn by one of their informants of the apartment Fred Hampton was staying in.


Yeah, and it was under the guise of they have a stash of guns in there, which they did have a stash of guns and ammunition in there. And that was the excuse. They used to go in and shoot him in bed while he slept. Yeah.


And if you are questioning whether this was actually an attempt on Fred Fred Hampton's life, those 90 bullets that were fired, most of them went into Fred Hampton and three people who were sleeping in the same bed as Hampton, where he was shot and killed, were not hit by bullets at all.


Yeah, including his eight and a half months pregnant girlfriend. Yeah. Who they grabbed by the hair and threw into the other room, tore her robe open. And, you know, the story of the cops was, was they knocked on the door, were denied entry. Then they opened the door and there was a woman aiming a shotgun at them. Um, later on ballistics tests, they did everything and basically figured out that was 100 percent shamma.


All the bullets were were found ballistically to have gone into the apartment, none going out of the apartment through the walls. And, you know, in this documentary, they interview a few of the people that are in there. And they were just like it was mass murder. They basically just came in and shot the place up. They they examined the angle of the wound that showed that Hampton was lying on his back in bed from somebody standing above him.


And in 1970, a coroner's jury ruled the deaths justifiable. Everyone got away with it. But the city eventually and the federal judge approved a one point eighty five dollars million settlement.


But that wasn't until the 90s. Yeah. Oh, yeah, 13 years later.


But the FBI, apparently the agent who was handling the informant who produced the map was so pleased with the results that after the after the raid that resulted in Hampton's execution, he, I guess, mailed Jake Hoover with the request for an extra three hundred dollars because he wanted to give the informant a bonus.


Yeah, I'm one of the. Bigger black eyes on American history, for sure.


One of the other black guys on the Chicago PD at this time was the one of these raids was on the Breakfast for Children program, where the supplies for breakfast were burned, like the place is set on fire by the cops.




So, I mean, the Black Panthers are like open war with the FBI and with the police department to the late 60s were crazy, you know.


Yeah. In large part because of this. Yeah.


I mean, for sure there was another big shootout and this is all sort of coming to a head if it feels that way. That's exactly what's going on. In 1969, there was another big shootout and this was major. And I think it was in Los Angeles, wasn't it? Yeah, it was.


It was the first time a SWAT team was ever used. Yeah. They employed the SWAT team, which was invented by the LAPD and 200 L.A. police. And I think it was like six or eight Black Panther Party members were involved in a full on, you know, hour long gun battle. Mm hmm. Just right there in the streets. So things are coming to a head. The sort of the secret plan here by Hoover is working, which is he wants to fracture the party from within.


And so seeds of discontent and discord. So they had been through the years planting informants in the Black Panther Party in the party, and they knew it. The Black Panthers did. So a lot of distrust. You know, when you know, like who can you trust? A lot of this this distrust happens even among, you know, the higher ups that were formerly like a pretty strong union. Right. And that happened for sure.


In the case of Eldridge Cleaver and Huey Newton, when Huey Newton got out of jail, he was eventually freed and it was a big deal. And they thought this was going to be sort of the the rebirth of the Black Panther Party in the wake of the death of Fred Hampton.


But he came out of jail and he and Cleaver sort of had different they always sort of had different priorities, but they managed to come together. But they were truly fractured at this point.


Yeah, they were. Newton and Cleaver were like openly criticizing one another with Cleaver still in exile. But Cleaver had the entire New York chapter dedicated to them.


And years prior, the Black Panthers had formed what was called the Black Liberation Army. Yeah, but it was an army of defense until 1971 when I believe he was still in absentia.


But Eldridge Cleaver said, hey, we're going to take this from defensive to offensive and basically create a new terrorist group out of the Black Liberation Army. And they started a campaign of violence against cops where they would ambush cops and just kill them. There wasn't any retaliation for police brutality. It wasn't self-defense, like they were ambushing and killing cops. And it happened in cities around the country.


And the fracture between the Black Panthers itself was so deep that Cleaver's faction and Noon's faction were assassinating one another, you know, taking out each other's people. So it was a big deal. And the Black Liberation Army officially split from the Black Panthers in 1971.


And, of course, at this point, Herbert Hoover sitting back in his chair like choking on a cigar from left or right, because this is exactly what he wanted. Yeah. Was this infighting. And so Newton gets out of jail. He's he's trying to get the social programs going again, but he also is becomes addicted to drugs and by all accounts, is sort of losing his mind and has become power hungry and has sort of lost the original calling that he had and is gotten sort of drunk with power and was not functioning mentally like he should have been due to the drugs.


Right. So it was his big sort of the big beginning of the flame out. Yeah. For himself and the party.


Yeah, for sure. His his downfall.


Definitely it didn't exactly mirror the party, but, you know, it was a herald of, you know, one of the founders was totally losing his his marbles. Yeah.


Because he was addicted to heroin and cocaine, you know, and he actually had a very sad and he died during a drug deal on the street in nineteen eighty nine in Oakland. But he said that he was committing revolutionary suicide by being addicted to drugs and basically killing himself that way. Yeah. Some of the other ones had not quite as tragic but strange and like Eldridge Cleaver, right. Yeah. When he returned from Algeria with Kathleen Cleaver, he became I think both of them might have become born again Christians and.


Eldridge Cleaver eventually became a registered Republican. Yeah, I did not see that coming. I did not either. And I'm sure a lot of people didn't. Right.


And then, you know, I mentioned the internal violence with one another. Right. Yeah. There was a big turning point as far as public sympathy went in 1969. I think maybe.


Yeah, 1969, there was a guy named Alex Rackley, who was a member of the New York chapter, and he was suspected to be an FBI informant.


And it's still, after all these years, never come to light whether he was or not. But the Panthers had the idea that he was. So they took him to the New Haven chapter where he was tortured. They tied him up to a bed and poured boiling water on his body for days. Yeah. And then eventually, I guess he confessed. Although if you ever listen to a torture episode. Right, false torture. Yeah. You can get a false confession.


Pretty easy if you torture somebody. They took him out to the woods and shot him in the head and chest and left him.


And when he when his body was discovered, Bobby Seale had been in New Haven speaking at Yale just hours before the guy was killed. So he got charged with the murder. And this is one of the founders of the Black Panther Party on trial for murder. Yeah. And during this trial, which he was acquitted, but he the a lot of the infighting came out and the Panthers had managed to keep it out of the public eye and under wraps for four.


You know, up to this point now, it came out in the trial, so people realized that there was a lot of schisms and fractures within the leadership itself. They lost a lot of public sympathy when they found out that they would carry out, you know, extrajudicial justice on their own members.


Yeah, and it just it was a it was a big thing.


It was a big turning point for the party as far as the public was concerned. Yeah.


And like I said, there were sort of the two factions with with Cleaver and Newton. Some people went with Cleaver, some people went with Newton. A lot of people left the Black Panther Party period at this point because they either didn't know who to give their allegiance to or they just felt betrayed by this fracture. And the party wasn't what they thought it was. So the numbers are declining. It's definitely in sort of freefall at this point. And Bobby Seale decides, here's what we need to do.


We need to close down as many chapters as we can and and pull the resources in the money and bring everyone out here to Oakland, because I'm going to run for mayor and we need to go all in on this legit push for a political candidacy because I think I can win. So they literally called up people on the East Coast and the Baltimore office and New York offices and said, shut them down, come out here to California and we need to go all in on not only running for mayor, but on a massive voter registration campaign to register people in urban communities to vote.


So I think in the end, they got like 50000 new people registered to vote. And out of eight or nine candidates, he finished close enough in second to get a runoff.


He got like 40 percent of the vote.


Yeah, but ultimately lost in a runoff, in a narrow runoff and did not win, um, which sorta was one of the final nail in the coffin for the party because they had committed so many resources to try and get behind Bobby Seale to run for mayor.


And he, incidentally, still lives in the Bay Area and is very much still an activist.


Yeah, Bobby Seale is. Yeah, he was.


Also did you ever see that documentary on the Chicago Eight? It was like animated. No, I well, it's really it's very good.


Yeah. He was one of the Chicago eight and Seale, he actually went to prison. This is before it's mayoral run.


But he did like four years or at least was sentenced to four years strictly for contempt of court because he he rejected that he was getting a fair trial because I don't think there is a single black person on the jury. And he rejected that. He was being tried by a jury of his peers and he kept protesting in the middle of court. And eventually at one point, the judge had him gagged. But he got like four years for that.


Yeah, gagged as in literally chained to his seat with tape over his mouth. Yes. And you know that that set off all sorts of protests in the streets. People wanted that judge removed. I thought that was that not during the Panther 21 trial. Was that the other one? Chicago.


That was the Chicago eight trial.


OK, and that was that was a different trial. Also, where did you ever hear the urban legend that Hillary Clinton got Bobby Seale out of? Off a murder charges, yes, that was that came out of that Alex Rackley trial where he was on trial for murder and he was acquitted and Hillary Rodham Clinton was nowhere near the actual trial. His attorney, she apparently was a law student at Yale still and was coordinating with the ACLU to monitor the trial.


So she she was there, but apparently had nothing to do with the defense.


Gotcha. But that was an urban legend that came out of the 2000 senatorial campaign.


Well, the Panther 21 I mentioned just quickly, that was in New York, the New York Chapter 21. Leaders of the Black Panther Party were rounded up and arrested on conspiracy charges. And this is a really big deal because the New York chapter was one of the biggest ones in the country after Oakland. And people got involved and tried to raise money like celebrities got involved in and donated money. And at one point, if it still is, but it was the longest criminal proceeding in New York state history.


It was a 13 month trial by jury and they were all found not guilty and released so that all of them were found not guilty.


Yeah, the Panther 21. Wow. And that's, you know, jumping back in time a little bit and just wanted to mention that.


So there is a distinct legacy beyond just the look or the image or black power and black power. We should also say I think it was Stokely Carmichael who either coined that phrase or at least was the first really kind of pick it up and run with it. And Stokely Carmichael is Nunc Nonviolent Student Coordinating Committee. They got together with the Black Panthers early on. But if you I mean, just in the popular culture the Black Panthers live on, but there's even more of a legacy as well.


Before he died, Eldridge Cleaver gave an interview, I think, back in 1997, and he said that he basically blamed the gang violence that plagued inner cities in the 80s. He traced that directly to the death of the Black Panthers. Well, he said that as it was, the US government chopped off the head of the black liberation movement and left the body there armed.


That's why all these young bloods are out there now. They've got the rhetoric, but without the political direction and they've got the guns. Interesting. So he basically traces that directly to the Black Panthers being taken down, huh?


Yeah. You got anything else actually to do, so we were talking about how, you know, there's a legacy, there's not just the legacy of the Black Panthers is the legacy of brutality against black people that apparently is at least as bad, if not worse today than it has been Chuck. Yeah, so the Tuskegee University in Alabama has records of all the lynchings that took place in the Jim Crow era, 1890 to 1965, and two thousand nine hundred and eleven black Americans were lynched during those years.


And the worst year of the Jim Crow era was 1892 and 161 people were lynched in 2015.


Two hundred and fifty eight black people were killed by police in the United States. So.


Not a lot's changed, and it's possible that it's gotten worse now, but if you look to the Black Lives Matter movement, they have chosen the way of king and preaching non-violent rhetoric for social change rather than the Black Panther rhetoric of militancy and violent self-defense.


Yeah, I think a bit of the Black Panther Party spirit that was alive in the Black Lives Matter movement, for sure.


Yeah, for sure. So, yeah, that's all I've got. That's all I've got. Good one. Yeah, I thought so too man.


Do you ever see the movie. That was the one with, like Mario Van Peebles. Yeah, he made it, he wasn't in it, I don't think. OK, no, I didn't. I heard it was not good.


Yeah, I want to see Malcolm X. I've never seen that one.


Oh, that's great. Is it. Yeah. Yeah. Spike Lee's movie. Sure. Yeah. Really good. OK, I'll check that out. Yeah.


The, um the Panther movie was. I just read a few reviews today, and apparently the setup is pretty good with some of the history, but then it kind of goes off the rails. Oh, OK. And like and not just goes off the rails like a bad movie, but bad movie and not historically accurate or honoring like the subject matter.


Dance scenes keep breaking out.


Uh, but I do think that I was like, man, why hasn't there been a movie made about Fred Hampton?


Yeah, he sounds like he was a. A pretty inspiring figure. Yeah, seeing some of the speeches like he had it going on, he said his one big quote was, uh, we're not going to fight fire with fire.


We're going to fight fire with water. Nice. So that was a good one. Yeah, that's a great one. Yeah, that's black messiah talk right there. Exactly. If you want to know more about the Black Panthers. There's a bunch of stuff you can do. You can go on to the site at HowStuffWorks dot com and search those terms. You can go watch Black Panthers Vanguard of Revolution. You can watch Black Power Mixtape. That has a lot to do with the Black Panthers.


I haven't seen it yet, though, of, you know, you can go to Emory University, I bet, and get in touch with Kathleen Cleaver and maybe offer to buy your coffee.


Yeah, there's just a lot of really good articles out there that just search Black Panthers and it'll there's a lot of Eye-Opening history that you didn't learn in school. And since I said you didn't learn in school, it's time for listener mail.


I'm going to call this addendum to rubber trade from the elastics episode. Hey, guys, just listen to the one on elastics. It was fun and informative, as usual, but I wanted to call attention to a small, important omission. You were discussing the trade in Latin America and you only mentioned Brazil, although it was indeed the largest exporter of rubber in the area. The Amazon Basin and the Putumayo River Valley region in Peru and Colombia were also important sites for the production of rubber trees.


Sadly, when you combine global demand with a natural product, the result is usually some form of exploitation. In the case of rubber, it came to a horrible extreme with the Peruvian Amazon rubber company or, as it was known in Spanish, the Casa Arana named for Julio Cesar Arana, a Peruvian businessman that set up shop in the region, enslaved, tortured and mutilated indigenous populations to the brink of extinction and the pursuit of rubber. His crimes were documented and made public in 1913, but his business and atrocities only stopped when rubber production moved to Asia and he couldn't compete.


This whole rubber bonanza, as chronicled in the excellent Colombian novel The Whirlwind by Jerry Rivera. Today, the offices of the company Casa Arana or Rhino House are being converted into a historic site where members of local tribes can gather and remember those atrocities in their own way, telling their own stories in their own words. This is one of those poorly documented, poorly discussed examples of genocide as a result of trade, at least in Colombia, every kind of economic bonanza is somehow tied to one massacre or another.


So that's the downer I wanted to share. Who is that best from? Bogota. Santiago. Santiago is the person who wrote it. And yes. Thanks a lot for writing that, Santiago. We appreciate it. Yep, that's a good one. It's been like an eye opening history lesson through and through, huh? Absolutely. If you want to give us an eye opening history lesson, we love those. So get in touch with us. You can tweet to us at Josh Clark, and that is why as podcast, you can hang out with us on Facebook at Charles Doublecheck Bryant and stuff.


You should know you can send us an email to Stuff podcast at HowStuffWorks dot com. And as always, join us at our home on the Web stuff you should know Dotcom. Stuff you should know is a production of radios HowStuffWorks for more podcasts, My Heart radio, because the radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to your favorite shows.


Hi, this is Melanne Verveer and this is Kim Mazzarelli, we are co-authors of the book, Fast Forward How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose and where co-hosts of Senecas Conversations on Power and Purpose brought to you by the Seneca Women Podcast Network and I Heart Radio for launching a brand new season of this podcast, which brings you fascinating conversations with leaders who are using their power for purpose to accelerate progress for women while building a better world. We're kicking it off with a special six part series called Getting to Equal.


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Imagine this, you've been playing football for years, dreaming of going pro, and then it happens, life as you know, it changes with a phone call.


I finally got because it's surreal, you know, I'm ready. Go, go, go. This is Keegan Michael Key and welcome to Drafted.


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