110. Politics with Bloodshed: the Black Panthers

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The philosophical underpinnings of a “vanguard of revolution” led by Huey P. Newton, Bobby Seale, and Eldridge Cleaver: the Black Panther Party.



Further Reading

• E. Cleaver, Soul on Ice (New York: 1991, first ed. 1968).

• D. Hilliard and D. Weise (eds), The Huey P. Newton Reader (New York: 2002).

• B. Seale, Seize the Time: the Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton (Baltimore: 1991, first ed. 1970).


• P. Alkebulan, Survival Pending Revolution: the History of the Black Panther Party (Tuscaloosa: 2007).

• J.L. Jeffries, On the Ground: the Black Panther Party in Communites Across America (Jackson MI: 2010).

J. Bloom and W.E. Martin Jr, Black Against Empire: the History and Politics of the Black Panther Party (Berkeley: 2013).

• B.P. Powers, “The Socratic Black Panther: Reading Huey P. Newton Reading Plato,” Journal of African American Studies 21 (2017), 26-41.

• D.J. Murch, Living for the City: Migration, Education, and the Rise of the Black Panther Party in Oakland, California (Chapel Hill: 2010).


Steven Goldsmith on 31 October 2022

Fred Hampton

He was the highest development of Black Panther philosophy - Black leadership of a multinational coalition against capitalism  - and was murdered for it by the state.

BPP Philosopher on 3 November 2022

Philosophical works on the BPP

Some other further readings by philosophers that take the Black Panther Party and its members seriously as a philosophical organization and as philosophers:

Huey P. Newton: The Radical Theorist by Judson Jeffries analyzes Newton as a political philosopher

- "Huey Newton’s Lessons for the Academic Left" and "I Am We: Dialectics of Political Will in Huey P. Newton and the Black Panther Party" by Jim Vernon

- I haven't read it, but Common Ground: A Comparison of the Ideas of Consciousness in the Writings of Howard Thurman and Huey Newton by Anthony Sean Neal seems interesting.

The Man-Not by Tommy Curry draws on several of the Panthers for his analysis of Black males and their 'genred' oppression. Chapter 2 draws on Cleaver's Soul on Ice and his unpublished Book of Lives to analyze the racial-sexual fear of Black males. Chapter 3 draws on Elaine Brown's The Condemnation of Little B to analyze the super-predator myth of Black males and the antiblackness of the Black intellectual class. Chapter 5 draws on Newton substantially, such as his concept of 'revolutionary suicide' to discuss the Black male's lack of 'futurity' and his enduring social and literal death

- Curry also has (so far) published the only philosophy paper on Robert F. Williams, "Robert F. Williams and Militant Civil Rights: The Legacy and Philosophy of Pre-emptive Self-Defense". I found this paper especially helpful for understanding Black armed self-defense and armed-resistance as an intellectual and philosophical tradition

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