ABSTRACT

The Black Panther Party (BPP) was one of the most significant radical movements in American history. As an organized political organization, the BPP existed from 1966 to 1982. Many activists and scholars argue that the BPP only existed as a revolutionary organization from 1966 unti11971, in the initial period of its existence. In these years the BPP emphasized armed resistance as a primary means of achieving social change. After 1971, historians ofthe BPP argue, the organization dropped its revolutionary, pro-armed resistance agenda to pursue reformist politics. 1 For example, Charles Hopkins' s study "The Deradicalization of the Black Panther Party" argues that governmental repression was a central factor in transforming of the organization from radicalism to reformism: "The result of the interaction between the Panthers and the government from 1966 through 1973, was the transformation ofthe Black Panther Party (BPP) from a black radical organization to a deradicalized social protest groUp.,,2 While governmental repression led to the ascendancy of a reformist agenda for one faction of the BPP, this was not the only organizational response. Some BPP members committed themselves to involvement in or support of clandestine military resistance, which accelerated the development of the armed movement called the Black Liberation Army (BLA).