50 years ago, the Black Panther Party for Self Defense was founded in the East Bay. Come discover how a few committed students at Oakland's Merritt College founded an organization that grew into a powerful social movement that came to have profound influences, nationwide.
Facing off with the established political authority of the day, the Panthers were early targeted by police and the FBI, and many were jailed. But even during their most turbulent times, Black Panther Party (BPP) leaders were masters of the power of image and publicity in the news-saturated decade of the 1960s.
The BPP even managed to turn the negative publicity it garnered in the mainstream media into a way to call attention to the positive social programs they sponsored to help the black community, including a Free Breakfast Program for Children, and educational efforts that drew attention to Sickle Cell Anemia.
Come by the Library to discover the fascinating history of this radical revolutionary group from five decades back - you'll never accept simple stereotypes and facile judgments about the Panthers again.
Most of the images used in this exhibit came from the Black Panther Party's newsletters, and have been obtained from the African American Museum and Library in Oakland, California.
The first run of the Party's newsletters was titled The Black Panther Black Community News Service, and ran from its founding in 1967 to early 1972; at that point the newsletter changed its name to The Black Panther Intercommunal Community News Service.
Other images were supplied by the Bancroft Library in Berkeley, California, and the Oakland Museum of California as indicated on the Sources & Credits page in this LibGuide..
The Exhibits Committee of the CSUEB Libraries began discussing possible topics for our annual Fall Exhibit last May. It took all of 15 minutes to agree that the upcoming 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party would be a fabulous topic.
We were aware that other institutions would also be addressing the anniversary of the Panthers - notably the Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) - nevertheless, we hoped we might be able to also contribute our own perspective to the BPP's history, and hopefully inform our students, staff, and faculty who daily use the library here on campus.
To that end, we choose sub-topics that made sense to us, and chose to portray them in a newspaper-style format, inspired by the underground and mainstream newspapers of the 1960s-'70s (including the BPP's own Black Panther Black Community News Service, as well as other Bay Area papers like the Berkeley Barb).
In attempting an historical treatment of the Panthers' complex and controversial history, we felt a responsibility to present what we could in a straightforward manner, with no editorializing.
Additionally, only so much information could be presented on 10 posters, so the purpose of this library exhibit is simply to provide our students and campus community with a basic primer on the BPP's founding and its turbulent history as a revolutionary group for social change.