published: 16 December 2016
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Black Panther Party. With social inequality at record levels, white supremacy consolidating its power in the political corridors of Europe and the US, climate change destroying primarily Black and Brown countries, and the continuing de-development of the global south, the Black Panther’s iconic legacy continues to inspire, teach and resonate with millions across the world.
The successes of the Civil Rights Movement had destroyed the apartheid laws of the Jim Crow South in the early 1960s. However, African-Americans still found structural and institutionalised racism in the states and cities of the North where they were ‘ghettoised’, reduced to conurbations with high rates of unemployment and inadequate housing.
The African-American question had ceased to be a primarily ‘civil rights’ one, instead focusing upon how economic and political self-determination could be achieved, and how African Americans may respond to the systematic abuse from enforcers of the status quo: the police.
The United States was a country founded on the enslavement of one people and the ethnic cleansing of another; a country where, a few years later, the US government would partake in its only ever bombing of its own citizens, a primarily African-American neighbourhood in Philadelphia.