From Mumia Abu-Jamal on death row
Published Jan 29, 2009
Taken from a Jan. 7 audio column. Go to www.prisonradio.org to hear
Huey P. Newton's name, and more importantly, his history of
resistance and struggle, are little more than a mystery for many
younger people in their 20s.
The name and works of a third-rate rapper are more familiar to the
average Black youth, and that's hardly surprising given the failure
of the public school system.
For the public school system is invested in ignorance, and Huey P.
Newton was a rebel and more, a Black revolutionary.
Inspired by the civil rights movement and the violent attacks on
Blacks trying to vote, Huey felt a bolder, more radical stance was needed.
At the age of 24, he co-founded the Black Panther Party, and the
group expanded by leaps and bounds. Begun in October 1966, in three
years it had grown to over 40 chapters and branches across the
country, with an international section in Algiers, North Africa.
Dedicated to the principles of Black self-defense and Black freedom,
the Party became the foremost radical group of the era, with a wealth
of supporters and enemies.
Chief among enemies was the U.S. government, which in the words of
the FBI's head, J. Edgar Hoover, considered it "the greatest threat
to national security."
For many thousands of Black youth, the rebelliousness of the Party
spoke to their spirits more truly than did the peaceful resistance
represented by Dr. Martin Luther King.
Huey was not a pacifist, and neither were millions of Black people.
But Huey, for all his brilliance, flair and resolve, was only human,
and as the saying goes, "To err is human." Under attack from without
and within, the Party made missteps that contributed to its demise by
the early 1980s.
But it is the best of Huey P. Newton that survives: the bold soldier,
the minister of defense, the thinker and writer who gave his best to
the Black Freedom movement, who inspired millions of others to stand.