This month marks the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party. Let me say that I have much respect for the Black Panther Party. In my opinion the Black Panthers did many wonderful and positive things for the community in the 1960's and 70's.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of listening to former Black Panther Eddie Conway speak on the program Democracy Now. Eddie Conway was a Black Panther Party leader in Baltimore during the late 1960's. It is important to point out that during that same period there existed an, in my opinion, heinous FBI program called COINTELPRO. COINTELPRO stands for counter intelligence program. Let me tell you, this COINTEL program was no good and nasty in a big way. The goal of the nasty and corrupt COINTELPRO program was to surviel, infiltrate, discredit and disrupt domestic political organizations, particularly the Black Panther Party.
Eddie Conway was convicted of killing a police officer in Maryland during a shoot out between police and Black Panther members. Conway states that others were involved in the shoot out and that he was convicted illegally. Conway then spent 12 years in prison. Eventually, there was a determination that he, as well as other Panthers, had been tried illegally in Maryland. Incredibly, and this is mind boggling, it took another 32 years for him to win his release from prison. Conway was finally released in 2014. There are other former Black Panther Party members still in prison as political prisoners, probably illegally.
It is important to note that the Black Panther Party's ten point program was full of positive goals and ideas that were based on the betterment of the community in many urban areas in this country. The Black Panthers created many wonderful community and social programs like free breakfast for children and free health clinics.
I am glad I had the opportunity to hear Eddie Conway speak on Democracy Now. I am also glad that in the early 70's COINTEL was exposed as corrupt and found to have infringed on the rights of so many U.S. citizens.
Purple Walrus Press.
|Black Panthers. Photo wikipedia.org|