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United States of America -- Middle Class and Decolonization

04142008 Black Panthers and Decolonization [ web] [2] ( v. 04172008)

USA Liberalism 1960s-1970s

By Michael Johnathan McDonald (April 2008) [GUS7]

Middle Class Era, Black Liberation, and United States of American History

Bay Area Corridor:

World War II

Postwar Visions ( types of empowerment)



African Americans

Build Middle Class

GI Bill

Federal Housing Administration (FHA)

Global decolonization, new industrial suburbanation

Parallel spatial timeframes revisited

National black liberation movements

Riots for jobs

Militancy only way to make the “power base” listen

In the national narrative the Black Panther Parties and black liberation movements of the 1960s-1070s  have been framed as violent, theatrical, hate filled, tribal separatism, and disdain for anything "white." While this piece will not try to romanticize these movements, most U.S. citizens are still unaware of the reality of the issues surrounding these movements. The normative narrative is that these movements were run by ignorant petty-street gangsters, lethargic sub-humans who sought welfare handouts and would not get out of bed in the morning to look for work. In contrast, the Bay Area and by  some of its surrounding districts has a different narrative, a more compelling and international implicated perspective that only some white U.S. citizens inspired to attain at this time of history will react to this piece. The Oakland Black Panther Party had associated itself with groups and institutions of poverty activists, and radical social scientists, as well as international communiqué which deeply added to a multi-perspective viewpoint of how the world works. Black Nationalism did not come out of a vacuum of the 1960s. It began as a long process, even before the 1930s, and developing domestic and international discourses reflected the changing knowledge structures it materialized.

•          SNCC/Lowndes County Freedom Organization (Stokley Carmichael)

Stokley Carmichael  was born on the Caribbean island of Trinidad. He Studied philosophy ( where) and joined freedom riders, and was arrested numerous times ( 23-36?). He took part in Mississippi Freedom Party, and became the director of an Alabama camping, where all voting power was in the hands of white. He was part of an Alabama group that had a symbol of a black panther. The symbol was more for identification  purposes than symbolic of what it is known for today. The pictograph of a black panther demarcated the difference between the white Democratic Party strongholds, symbolized by the pictograph of a rooster, and a new black democratic party-off-shoot that sought black agency – depicted as a black panther. The illiterate African American youth were to identify with the correct sub-democratic group by identifying the pictograph symbol of the Black Panther. As part of SNAKE, Carmichael formatted a bridge of the civil rights movement to a later phase of the movement. Another key movement is a Black Panther movement that arouse in Oakland, California, which had borrowed the symbol and validated cross-country communication and unification by symbology. It would be the 1964 Democratic Convention disaster that had crystallized the need for a sustained separate black Democratic Party movement and separate black institutions’. As complex, the Detroit Blacks saw liberation in classical terms of Marxist exploitation, but it was a nationalist labor perspective.

Malcolm X (Nation of Islam) had a strong following of the urban poor across the U.S.A., it was associated with a unique Islamic sect, and it did preach a type of black separatism.  Malcolm X was an important minister within the already formed group (d. 1964). Before he died, he moved away from the Nation of Islam to form the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which for a short time was very influential movement.  The truth is we do not know much about Malcolm X, we have speeches and an autobiography, but we do not know how much is true.[1] Black Nationalism was a response to the white nationalism, he believed, in this period of black separatism. Yet, according to legend, he influenced the Oakland Black Panther Party with his communiqué from the United Nation meetings and international sojourns. Postcolonial discourse, helped identify the Oakland sect of the Black Panther movement as unique, and Malcolm X, only as part the entire colonial analysis, could be associated with contributing to their discourse.

Ballot or the Bullet ( In Bloom, read it) --- Malcolm X,

Then they started to move away, after it became serious --- it was an economic ( it was part of the anti-global colonial process – it was on the home front that this anti-colonialism was taking place, a strong identification to the third world, “ we are all fighting the same struggle.”--  it was a centrality of Malcolm X, where Islam framed whites as the evil and were generally considered devils, and he began to see liberation in the context of decolonization.  It shifted; we will not go to the Congress for our rights, but the United Nations, like all other colonial nations have to go to get justice.

James Meredith: First black to be accepted, organized a march across Mississippi, and said Blacks had nothing to fear, a KKK member shot him three times, a premature death. King marched with Carmichael after Meredith was shot; indicating unity, but still they had disagreement on big issues. But in 1966, they are part of the same movement. Carmichael communicated that the white symbol was a white rooster, and black panther was a black symbol – because most people in the county that Meredith was registering, including the whites were illiterate, so they formed symbols. And guns were a part of normalcy, because it was how, they saw it, the white man kept the black persons from voting or registering to vote. So the shot-gun was a common symbol. The symbolism would be associated eventually with Robert Williams’ proactive armed-defense philosophy. Carmichael became a national black leader and even spoke at University of California, Berkeley.

What changes in 1966 was putting signs on display of Black Panther symbols and shot-guns. A newly formed sect of the Black Panther group, as part of the 1960s black liberation movements went to the California State Capital of Sacramento to show-off their unity and their guns – the newspapers said the capital was invaded, but they were just displaying their guns for a short period of time – and it described freedom in the United States of America. They entered the hallway, made a short statement, allowed the press to interview them, and left. But it was a nightmare for the white authorities in Sacramento. The purpose the Black Panthers said was to defend the Constitution for the rights to bear arms, but there were small groups that advocated guerrilla warfare against the whites.  The black panthers, on the other hand, said this was to show the whites that we have guns; we are not here to make war. Many radical leftist descended on Oakland and Berkeley bringing their ultraradical leftist militancy that advocated starting a war against the government. These pseudo-guerrilla outfits had practiced military operations in the hills of Berkeley with live ammunition. This had nothing to do with the Black Panther movements. What this described was a meddling of grassroots organizations coming together when the war started to become very unpopular.

In the “Ballot or the Bullet” speech, Malcolm X, speaking of Vietnam said, you [blacks] can die, or you [as blacks] can take your chances with bullets here in the US. The U.S. press at that time said this was a call for a race war. And that is how it was discussed in the press. Charles Postel suggests people understood it in a profoundly different way.  It means voting rights, citizenship, and civil rights, “So without political power that everyone else expects, there will be hell to pay,”[2] Yet, blacks in the U.S. were systematically suppressed by white police and murdered as the declassified document had eventually revealed. In addition, blacks in Viet Nam were often used as the front men in skirmishes and war operations. If too many blacks fell in the frontlines, the whites behind them knew it was time to retreat to safe ground. The State Capital significance reiterated William’s sentiments that blacks were not going to be whipped any longer, as one of the claims against civil rights abuses, the Black Panther opted for Williams’ self defense policy. To get the message out, they went strait to the capital. The courage won the movement international fame. However, that was not the first intention as a statement – however it did help get their message across interstatewise. “This is how most of his followers understood that at the time.  It meant the fulfillment of these rights.” Postel intends.[3] Malcolm X had also preached against turn the other check policy. He like Williams believed tactfully it was good, but practically, self defense with guns was fundamentally just as fundamental principles of the white traditions. Fundamental, as the right to self-defense, right to bear arms, the rights to form militias’, you protect your family, the self, the community from the outside dangers.  Malcolm X ends speech with “it will be liberty or death”(a connotative form of what Patrick Henry had said during the led up to the American revolution). During the lead up to the American Revolution it was against unjust taxation, and we considered that fundamental to the American creed (the Creed, give me freedom or give me death). In the civil rights movement in the south during the civil war this creed was practiced , and reflected later in the 1950s of Robert Williams’ philosophy, as well as and other examples of people who understood their human rights as ultimatums. Fighting back was part of the struggle for “liberty.”

In the early 1960s, the national back liberation movements took to Robert Williams’s radio addresses and journal writings distributed all over by magnetic cassette tapes for future play-backs, even though he was in exile in Cuba – they took his ideas. They spun his work and fanaticized about guerrilla warfare. A new African State was to be the former south, and blacks had to decide what to do with the whites. Snake and CORE were multiracial, and Carmichael possibly had changed this to an all black movement. Yet, as one will read below there were pragmatic circumstances for this and this conflicts the national narrative. Stokley Carmichael did not invent the slogan, but raised the slogan of Black Power. Martin Luther King, Jr. distanced himself from the slogan. However, the national press intervened, and Carmichael and King’s opposition – led to a media that uniformly associated black power as racism against whites, violent, extremism and the utmost as dangerous. And the media framed the normative movement of non-violent as patriotic, principled of love. So the distinction of the national narrative was born -- then there was black power as violent, based upon principle of hate, and as Black Nationalist movements.  The Black Panther’s imagery was associated with urban rebellions, targeted white stores, not people, and the notion of white police violence during the 1965, Watts’s riots.

Yet, as part of Urban Rebellions, the Harlem 1964 uprising provides a narrative genesis that exposes a different view. A large violent open warfare in the streets all started with blacks throwing a party for returning black veterans from Viet Nam, and then the police showed up, and many whites joined the blacks against the police. Then tanks occupied the streets painting imagery of warfare on the streets of the United States of America. As the Kerner Commission concluded “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black and one white—separate from equal.” This is what was believed when looking at the riots and the outcomes. Detroit and Oakland did not burn, Postel claims, “because this was where they had formed, the black national movements – because there was a framework already there that was of hope, a hope of black power [empowerment].[4] This was a question of violence.

How could desperately poor groups funds this – it was a poorly funded phenomena?   Well, sometimes R. F. Williams sent checks, even though limited and in small amounts. And some taxation of local business accounted for currency, a type of thug work in the shakedown: ”if you do not give us some money we will boycott your stores.” Yet, the selling Mao Tse-tung’s communist (actually they were nationalist constructed in Marxist terminology, as opposed to what Karl Marx had written was the proper form of communism)  Red Books to U.C. Berkeley students provided black Panthers with their fund to  purchase shot-guns.  By buying these little red Mao communist books in San Francisco, and without reading them, the Black Panthers in one day purchased many little books and sold out on the Berkeley campus – then went and purchased a few guns the same day.

Communist literature and reselling it as marked up at the University in which the kids bought and the blacks laughed at by the ease to which communism literature was in dire need to rich whites on campus stood as a black mark on the Panthers afterworlds. Yet, from their perspective, and as small finances, the fundraising method from their newspaper only created marginal making money power. The books brought for 20 cents and sold for a dollar on campus, provided quick and necessary funds for arming their street militias. As claimed, they later and much later opened up the little red books and realized what they had sold the students.

Carmichael came to the conclusion to exclude whites, and black power now was seen as a hate group. Many in the black movement believed that was perverse, it seemed perverse. As rationalized, the white people were doing it, they had barred blacks, it was part of the makeup of the American way. Yet, Carmichael rarely used the term “black power.” And the Black Panthers used predominantly  the slogan of “Power to the People.” It was an acceptation to the inclusive alliance: the yellow power, the brown power, and this fruition came to be seen as “Brown Berets, Young Lords, Red Guards (SF), I Wor Kuen (NY), American Indian Movement. These were inter-communal nationalist movements, argued in the loose constructs of the proletarian context.  This was the panther vision. At first, the whites admired these movements and placed them into the popular culture context, even white students who saw them on TV and had no direct contact with any group aspired to their bravery and bravado. Then the students started to move away, after it became serious --- it was an economic issue -- it was part of the anti-global colonial process – it was on the home front that this anti-colonialism was taking place, a strong identification of the third world, “we are all fighting the same struggle.” It was a centrality of Malcolm X and the decolonization-Islamist vision that whites were generally considered devils. He began to see liberation in the context of decolonization.  It shifted from we will not go to the Congress any longer for our rights, but we will go directly to the United Nations, just like all other colonial nations had to go to get justice and recourse. Blacks viewed themselves as a colony within the greater colony of white west. As decolonization had begun in 1945 at the United Nations’ vision, the blacks identified with foreign countries that had been colonized by white-European imperialism. While Marcus Garvey had laid this notion in the early twentieth century, the changing discourse of modern decolonization led to postcolonization Black Nationalism rhetoric within the black urban cities.

These national movement activists utilized masculine protests. These are the images of marching seen on TV and documentaries and the black berets that were so popular, that were taken for black chic. With black leather jackets, it had an appearance of a street soldier uniform, and this became the imagery of theater. Not unlike the decolonized nations prior to World War II, where masculine protests in full military uniforms defined suppressed people promoting images of strength and resolve to be viewed by the world as contested to constructed femininity projected on to their countries by the dominant plutocracies. Yet, the black panthers did this to discipline, what they believed were lumpin proletariats.

Many women were important in the Black Panther’s movements, and at the same time the culture of the movement was masculine, and this left the women as demoted to a second position, and this was a relevantly small sigh of women’s power as they reacted, and became empowered by the symbols of liberation around them. In part, the Black Panther movement inadvertently led to part of the women’s right movements of the 1960s. It could also be viewed that as black women, the men had to patrol, organize, and administer the larger aspects of the male dominated communities, but women had to get out into the micro-communities and do their part to smooth the rough spots the men overlooked or were too overcome with by share purpose. Women’s traditional roles, as comparable to white U.S. tradition, was homemaker—but absent of complicated homelike and more pressing problems at hand—such as collecting foodstuff, transportation, and micro-community organization, the women had roles that needed to be filled which undermined the romanticized burning of the bras moment – that never actually happened in history. Women became a part of the workforce in their communities because there was a need and a position to be filled.


Founding of the Black Panthers, Oakland, California, 1966

·         What does the Formation of the Middle Class Have to Do with Black Liberations Movements?

“During the fall of 1966, mostly in the poverty program offices, Huey Newton and Seal put together the Black Panther Party Platform and Program, “What We Want, What We Believe,” which became a seminal document of postliberal African America political ideology.”[5] However, contrary to the national narrative of the Panthers as ignorant street thugs, gangsters and racists, to understand the social constructional forces that surrounded the circumstances of the rise of black liberation movements – we look to dismiss the “out of the vacuum” claim of the 1960s.

After 1964 elections, and the implementation of programs directed at the War on Poverty, and Office of Equal Opportunity , blacks still were not chosen to work in state construction jobs – at least not in the volunteered portion of affirmative action era. It took legal measures, then violence from blacks to get employment because the legal measures were still not being followed. You had equaled trained blacks and whites and whites continued to gain employment and deny blacks employment. Place yourself in their position. What were they supposed to do? The courts sided with the whites often as sympathetic. Blacks at the grassroots level pressured legislators at the state level to pass fair employment laws, but local business did not uphold them. The local courts and city administrators turned a blind eye. The whites fled to the suburbs and took with them the urban tax base. As complex, the undeveloped land was cheaper (per hector) and industry could build brand new buildings without expensive restoration projects on older urban buildings. The suburbs shaped the middle part of the twentieth century American discourse. “During WWII, an enormous growth of the state, especially in Europe, but it also means that for average Americans the state is involved in their lives -- very present in their lives --more than anytime than before.”[6] For African Americans, it was a time to force the state to open up opportunities – that was before a closed-economy. The states know it needs cooperation if it will mobilize immense masses to fight a two-front war.  From the South to the west, and from the mid-west to the North and Northwest, (steel plants and aircraft factories in Chicago) a period of social unrest arose because of population movement. It was a beginning in a way of the political contest that took shaped because of the war.[7] What about the postwar period? It significantly empowers these groups, so business comes out of the war in an empowered social environment, after the war. In the depression, business had been under assault. Organized labor is also empowered. “We are on the scene and we want to shape the postwar era too,” unions said. [8] Aspirations for Americans sought to move into the Middle Class. “What will it take to build a middle class? These are questions on the table for the postwar era. For business, the rout for them is about economic expansion, they need markets, and they need less labor costs. And that conflicts with the unions, and that is in conflict”[9] with the ethnic classes struggling for worker inclusion in the socio-economic structures of the American society. “Americans, must first desegregate, break down racial barriers, and then try to fight for middle class: Political classes, the visions over this – these groups clashing to build the middle class.”  As Self explains when trying to understand the history of social unrest, he says, “What are the mechanisms that are put in place to build the middle class?”[10] By understanding why the U.S.A. rose to international economic dominance after World War II, we need to understand the world market projections. Self supplies a few major ones: “[…] Have decimation in western Europe and decimation in east Asia – so the US has the economic advantage – until the Japanese economies and the West German economies get back to almost normal in the 1970s. [Therefore], The US has the advantage.”[11]

The blacks were left out of the suburban sectors by ‘covenant’ practices and by tacit refusal to sell them single-family housing. The whites believed the neighborhood prices on their homes would diminish. That left a large black population in dilapidated urban centers which became known as ghettos ( connotatively, “communities of/for blacks”). Then highway construction and new projects that were given to out of state workers or whites from other counties that came into the ghettos and destroyed blacks homes across America without plans to refurbish their neighborhoods. As part of modernization, the blacks were left out of those jobs and whites said look on the bright-side, you can get on a freeway and find a job. Yet no-whites wanted them on their working –teams.  In 1964, L.B. Johnson and Washington decided to help the poor out in America – including poor Appellation whites.  Federal money went into the ghettos too, but was controlled by Middle Class whites and blacks that cared less for the poor blacks. Instead of creating jobs, they formed local committees to discuss “feelings” about being poor. The poor blacks only wanted opportunity to have jobs – they cared less of “feelings.” It was the governments fault at not overseeing what were really these issues at the local community levels. If freedom denied power to one ethnic group because another ethnicity controlled that power, then how could freedom (or liberty) qualify justice in whom the one ethnic group in power held freedom and justice (for themselves) so dear?

After some grass roots organizations, and part of War on Poverty, Skill Centers were established to train poor people, and poor blacks were also a part of this federal plan (before mandatory Affirmative Action). Then after blacks were trained, they tried to seek jobs in white unions – but were denied. White unions argued that family, relatives and tradition framed their hiring practices. Those hiring practices were of course rooted in white culture. But that did not solve the employment problem for blacks. Then Washington saw this current and decided to give hand-outs – which became the national narrative for blacks who were depicted as lazy and thugs. Were they really lazy? This national narrative was adopted because it excused critical thinking, or thinking that makes self-reflection burdensome. The ones, who had even understood this, still would not admit it – for them, the economy was sparse all the time, and it was either their family or them. As concept, there were never enough resources to go around to all social groups. One had to be segregated and controlled.

As distribution of resources, the flatlands of the east bay corridor defined the socio-political landscape. After the War, the Flatlands began to be neglected. The  “inner urban industry are older and needed repair – the cities become financial burden: no businesses, degrading infrastructure, and mainly renters and working classes [ dwell there], and cheap rent – this was a segregated pattern of development. Therefore, this is the place that produces the policies of rights and of civil rights-- mainly a process taking place in the ‘60s. So what are the politics that play out – of these realities in spatial relationships of the land?”[12]

The GI bill[13], the ED benefits, at no cost and down payment mortgages and as part of the Veterans Administration (VA), helped people (mainly whites) to get a jump start into the middle class lifestyle. “The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was created in the 1930s, but really gets rolling in the postwar era – it was really important – it remade the entire national mortgage market. Before one had to put down about ½ of the cost of the house, and small loans – so prior  these guarantees,  homeowner ship was near impossible. So the US was like an indirect subsidy, to make loans further down the economic scale. So homeownership becomes more available, but mainly to whites until 1959.”[14] Industry wanted to build on cheap land. “Housing capital into the suburban homes and the suburban home becomes the new center of consumer consumption (washers and dryers, Frigidaire, toasters, etc…). To business and labor, the GI bill was beneficial – the unions and business persons were allowed to get into homes. But the flatlands, in west Oakland, the African Americans were working classes, and suppressed.”[15]

Low Taxes, and private property investments, the home prices to go up over time, and this was important to the middle class. As East bay corridor, San Leandro, Milpitas, were new industrial gardens all being built because of these new mortgage rules.[16] Yet, this was not endemic to San Francisco’s east bay corridor. Housing was capital, and from the urban prewar city centers to the “whites” creation of suburbs in the postwar period, these patterns were reflecting across the nation.  In southern California, Orange Country represented this post-war “white” suburbanization.[17]

Back in the east bay corridor, getting new industry, that is to say national industry -- branch-plants -- as resultant in Hayward, Freemont, San Leandro, Milpitas exhibiting suburban industrial gardens became a duel process of local development intuitions such as the Metropolitan Oakland Area Program (MOAP) and the 1960s Great Society (War on Poverty portions) of federal poverty investments and interstate U.S.A. restructuring. MOAP courted free-enterprise (1954 (-1970)), while in the 1960s federal highway and transit programs helped fuse money into urban restructuring and suburban planning and expansion.  As expansion, the urban centers encroached upon white suburbia. Many whites felt that African Americans brought down housing resale prices. As well, the industries keep the taxes low if the suburban cities governments were able to buy, build and remain on cheaply purchased lands; “this is the post war industrial gardens, this is that middle class vision, and it happens because of encouragement policies…”[18]

“What are the relations between other ethnic groups besides African Americans? It is a big question. Before, 1940s, most homing discrimination was against the Chinese and the Chinese Americans by White Irish and Italians that ran San Francisco. But in the postwar period it was a complex process. But as Asian Americans gradually over the course of the 1940s-1960s, they are more fully to integrate into California life, as distinct from African American. The Chinese had more ease than African Americans.”[19] While this is a complex issue, most African Americans came up to northern California during the 1940s and after World War II. The Chinese had been in California, as part of fleeing British and Chinese suppression from the 1850s. While this may not explain why African Americans were more discriminated in northern California as a group of ethnicity, it does show that a significant timeframe of conformability had taken place in a century time gap.  While Latins had more ease than both Asians and Africans, part of this explanation aligns with results of geospatial relations in European history. Latins had been a vital part of the Roman Empire, contributing more than two significant Caesars, and as well as intermingling within Europe proper from Iberia for more than millennia. However, as with the Black Panther’s discourse of colonies (within a larger colony) and its international conceptual implications as decolonization, the Latins formed their form of Colonias. It should be noted that this type of political correctness was not a part of the 1940s discourse.

At the pre-suburb stage, Latins had surrounded communities next to the incorporating cities. Latinos in rural era were already making a transition into industrial cities. Latins, at least in California history, were the most vital group for the building of the urban infrastructures. One will note the Islamic architecture, which is known today as Spanish-American architecture – that sometimes is communicated as a mixture of Native American and Spanish architecture. Apart from the Victorian styles of San Francisco, southern California is dominated with the Islamo-Iberian forms of architecture, mainly in early twentieth century home construction (adopted from the Umayyad dynasty expansion era). While Latins infused the California communities with construction workers and farmers (Chinese in California were mainly farmers in pre- 1950s), they also helped build much of the greater United States of American infrastructure since its founding, as free persons. The sentiment that blacks were not fully human, still after the fourteenth Amendment, this sentiment and view had not dissolved within the white community (colony). While this does not explain fully why the Latins had integrated and were accepted more readily by white communities than the blacks, the Latin heritage within the wider Euro-centric American colonies of North, central and South American does offer interesting questions. While construction explains some relevance, like educational trade skills and prior institutional agency in middle and south America, a larger framework of the US pasts association of blacks as non-humans who worked on the behalf of the privilege class pervaded the psyche of the U.S.A. landscape. As Colonias narrative, “the Latinos in the rural era were already making a transition into industrial cities.  The Latinos get swallowed by the Anglo-suburbs. The small Latino community is usually already in the suburb. Not as open and full of equality, but Latin were not oppressed as vigilantly as the African American. So besides that,  blacks, ethnic incorporation was a complex mix and issue.”[20]  


Segregated Education for African American

As part of the GI bill, traditional black universities resided in the East and South ( post 1950s – ‘60s) U.S.A., and the GI bill was open to race in education in California, but not housing. “If the FHA provided some type of home improvement incentives this would had made a difference? Would it have changed the trajectory of the civil rights movement is another question.” [21]

Suburb Sources

(try asking the sources questions, a type of dialogue ( dialectic) with them, and then with the history community) “ When I got to the suburb sources everyone was talking about taxes” So it turned out interesting, even though a boring issue, Self explains. [22] 

The state is big, and it is prone to the most profound contradictions. Self, when discussing the FHA and its implications of representation of groups” keep in mind the  Pre-1930s language ( not as political correct language). The 1940s language was more politically correct, most of the language of the 1930s is gone. [23]

Majority and Minority in district, city and statewide politics:

C.L. Dellums had taken time to understand that Statewide voting rights hindered black politicians from elections. This could be explained in that until African Americans had 40% of the voting constitutes, and needed to ally with sympathetic white to elect black leaders who would fight for African American economic rights – the developed black political power remained solvent. Oakland had always been dominated by whites. “In most cases in political movements they were relegated to the margins and does this explain the rise of black power in the ‘60s, but if one follows the logic, where does politics happen? In Oakland, it was a majority white city. Each city council person is elected in citywide voting, so the blacks needed to get into the 1970s to get a coalition to get into city councils. It was the Viet Nam war, the Black Panthers, the white student allies and the Robert Williams philosophy – coupled with Garveyite “self-help,” that gravitated toward survival- self-determination in the 1960s.  In Coalitions in statewide “senate districts, ” this was a different space for politics.”[24] “A big part of the civil rights movement is to stop the federal government with these policies and it was not all about the protests and local issues.” [25]

Deindustrialize after war

The biggest victims were black labors.  Pre-war, there were good jobs in light industry, and still unto the 1960s.  After the 1960s these jobs were gone ( that paid family wages), and then the blacks needed education – and this is the issue that springs up in the 1960s and becomes a Black Panther’s issue.[26] In 1930s blacks were predisposed to light industry and as group were politically slightly left of center: as BSCP, Pullman Porters, Red Caps, and Dinning care waiters. These were labor movements and things were being nurtured, ands at this time (AFL) segregated blacks, consisted of mainly pockets of diversity in AFL affiliations across the US, but mainly the AFL was white supremacist.

The Rumford (Act), whose Home Fairness Act was passed in 1963 after a long time of grass-root political organization of whom were trying to pass a bill each year, the housing inequality began a long but contentious shift. Middle Class African Americans moved into white suburban areas at greater numbers, and the potential for black upward mobility took new inspiration as hope.


Myth that the Black Panthers did not seek to Ally with other Ethnicities:

A myth surrounding Black liberation movement was possibly predicated on remembrances of Garveyite philosophy, as the realization turning to determinism for self-preservation and active agency. In another viewpoint, blacks as to central philosophy began to take destiny for their communities into their own hands and stopped following empty promises from the white central/federal government. Because of this action, black liberation groups were framed as extreme racists against whites as part of the normative argument.

To sum up the forces of U.S.A. contention between urban and suburban look toward a new conception running parallel together: Deindustrialization leading to post industrialization and new suburban industrialization. While post-industrialization lead to dilapidation,  at the same time, a  new industrialization lead to renewed economic empowerment in a segregationist-economic framework – existing at the same time in parallel space. It was at this juncture of the mid-1960s, which a need for a black power base took on a new significance. The EDA and the Skill center, the final promises issued to the black communities, continued its racial hiring practices. It was because of an unequalled distribution of resources that black liberation movement sprung up around the country. As liberalism, the new liberalism, the notion of “how do liberals understand power,” made its way into the black communities through literacy. The few African Americans that attained certain levels of education began to ask, “Why are liberals so obsessed with power?”[27] Ghetto power turned from desegregation to anti-colonial liberation as the paradigm of struggle. It was not a unique anti-colonialism; the Black Panthers linked Oakland to Asia and Africa. The tax bases, the independence and regional government had fled, and the government reacted as normative narrative of the Jim Crow fears. The blacks were always dangerous and needed to be constrained. This helps to explain why the white middle class controlled federal monies, and the poor people were given in exchange federal handouts, and not jobs. Yet, the national narrative framed the African American in the ghettos, the urban dilapidated infrastructure spaces, as lazy, dangerous, and ignorant. As desperation, the blacks saw encroachment into the white communities as the only way to garner funds to feed their families. The white police force reacted with increasing sever measures against blacks by community pressure of the white suburbs.

At the federal level, the issue was “white paternalism.” “Liberals who designed the OEO, over simplified the legalities of Jim Crow – to them, community participation was the main psychological, sociological, and behavioral issue, not a political one.”[28] While President Johnson’s advisors had understood in part the issue were about political representation, the Committee Action Program (CAP) was primarily concerned with identifying “feelings” as to find out how poor people coped with being poor. The War on Poverty, in Oakland, would be spearheaded by the Black Panther active and not passive philosophy. They had become tied from “[C]ommunity participation in Oakland’s OEO programs initially followed the Ford Foundation model- control by professionals.”[29] While community members could sit at community meetings, they had no real power. This was “white paternalism,” in 1964, Oakland. As reaction, “[A] far more fundamental and long-lasting challenge, in which neighborhood activists pressed the Oakland Economic Development Council (OEDC) for a greater democratization, came quickly on the heels of the liberal coup. Community activists demanded, and eventually won, “51 percent control” over the poverty board. In doing so, they shifted the center of gravity of the War on Poverty and transformed the OEDC from an extension of hate city’s service bureaucracy into a potential center of political opposition.”[30] This had represented a forceful and at the same time subtle shifting of ground forces of poor representation to provide hope and solutions for the poor whites and the growing African American population in Oakland. The contention, the opposition came from all corners. Middle Class blacks as social workers in the OEDC tried to calm poverty issue by “talking out their problems.” Deaf ears and frustrations came at continual reiteration – “we do not have training, education or job opportunities to compete in the outside white dominated world.” The black Panther movement did not come out of a vacuum.

As part of the Great Society, Oakland received the national model in the mid-1960s with the Economic development Administration’s Port of Oakland project. “Coincident with the formation of the OEDC, the EDA promised work for Oakland’s unemployed. It seemed the ideal compliment to the city’s new educational system [ Skill Center] and training programs, because it was the promise of actual and enumerated jobs. Enormous expectations accompanied the project’s opening in the spring of 1966, when Govenor Pat Brown announced at an Oakland press conference that the city would revieve $23 million in public work grants and loans for two major construction projects: an aircraft maintenance hanger at the Oakland Airport and a second automated terminal for the port’s West Oakland operations. Brown’s presence in Oakland signaled more than just the unprecedented size of the federal commitment – at $23 million, it was nearly ten times the city’s OEDC budget. Oakland was also among the first cities in the United States to receive EDA funding, the first post-Watts experiment in direct urban job creation. Brown called it “a massive experiment in solving the principal urban problem, unemployment.”[31] However, as Self writes, “[N]ational and local urban realpolitik, however, not a genuine concern for Oakland’s poor, shaped this new program.”[32] Promises to ethnic Mexicans and blacks for job securement, and employment went unheeded as out of state construction workers passed over the local poor Oaklanders. Even after receiving certificates of job skill training, or even prior education, blacks were denied jobs for the umpteenth time. What mattered at this juncture was visually empirical. Construction workers could be seen working out in daylight, and it was evident that promised percentage of Oakland’s communities was not represented. The national narrative that the black liberation movement came out of a vacuum remains unproven, and persistent of myth. The decades of broken promises led to a different type of War on Poverty. This war, at the local level involved shot-guns, international discourse, self-determination, and above all survival tactics.

The Old And Tired Narrative Smashed

As regard for the Black Panthers that became known nationally first in Northern California, a myth that some local blacks of the group had went to college and became literate and started reading about how the world and international politics works. Why they were at college, the poor blacks were hopeless and often abjectly poor in their neighborhood. This mean they saw them on a daily basis and started to understand world racism and international employment politics. No whites were helping them to have dignity. The Black Panthers decided to take matters into their own hands. They went into their community, wrote a manifesto, and started to actively help their own people. In doing so they aligned with white college students, Latin Americans, and other races of poor who sympathized with their plight. The media made it out that they were Garveyite[33] self-helpers. It was more complex. The Panthers opposed black bourgeoisie and white bourgeoisie and framed themselves as Mao nationalists (Mao was never understood Karl Marx’s writings, there for his programs are abject nationalism), and the panthers organized street thugs and petty criminals with the intent to teach them self-preservation and a better way of life. In the 1960s, in urban centers, or at least in Oakland, Ca, poor black children were starving to death at most, and at least never went to school without breakfast and hungry. This was not because blacks were lazy. The panthers trained their youth and poor to shake-down local business for “foodstuff,” often targeting middle-class black business for a dozen eggs as donations. Previously since the 1940s, peaceful protests yielded zero results and false promises. The media painted the panthers has “ignorant gangsters.” What the panthers were starting was to become known as “Survival Programs.” To do this they had to become violent. This explains why the media saw them as gangsters and thugs and not as scholars -- as some of them would become and were already very well read at that time. In fact, the 1965 free breakfast program was a historical companion to the Title I funding under the 1965 Education Act. As part of their community discourse on internationalism, and connections to Malcolm X, they had known way before the white general populations that covert African CIA and military operations were involved in sovereign African states. As reality of decolonization literature from Asia and Africa, the blacks had known “knowledge” that normal US citizens would not become aware of until declassification of government documents in the 1990s had proved of US intervention and wars that were not made available to the public in the ‘60s and ‘70s. In fact, most of Nor Cal whites were being exposed to this from the black community intercommunications (as well as Blacks getting their information from white radical social scientists, who had access to archives), that then; the whites reacted against their own government in student protests. Yet, to the rest of the country, the US was this benevolent process of Peace and liberty. Yes, the US covert operations were engaged in promoting genocides for US self interests. The Black Panthers, privy, framed this as global racism. The black liberation movement had better international knowledge than our own media, government and schools. They read the texts form overseas about what the US government was doing. In the US, these knowledges were locked up in classified files – in which many still have not been released. CIA is still posses a secret document that is still classified, called “Operation Chaos.” As simple power – this program was to plant false stories in the press, to frame up nationalist leaders on false charges, and to pit black national leaders against themselves. This and the FBI program was part of the forbidden narrative of What Happen To Black Power? The FBI'S Cointelpro Program gives us the hints to "Operation Chaos."  To create paranoia and to infiltrate the black liberation parties were to make these movements believe everyone near them were FBI, so as to foment killings within the organizations, as result. Yet, the legacies were a new urban coalition, a rights revolution. Fred Hampton, was a rising star of the Black Panthers, and was at the community’s founding.  He coined the Rainbow Coalition, a broad coalition of working people (see his murder and Cointelpro).

What they were saying in the late ‘60s and 1970s about US covert operations were vilified in 1990s with declassification of some CIA, NSA, and NSC, documents. It made one wonder how the whites were played for dupes in US history. Today we understand that Soviet intervention into Asia and Africa came to no-avail. Even after the US allowed Soviets free reign to start communism in different states and continents, they all failed. Unfortunately, the Black Panthers had read Marx and understood this outcome, but the US government had not known about Marx’s writings or had studied them to the extent of scholarship. Was communism really a world threat? According to Marx, one cannot have communism in backward nations. How was communism going to work in backward and primitive places such as Africa or Viet Nam? Even after the initial thrill of Bandung (1955), the realization from the fifty-five leaders had set in that capitalism was the only way out – or limited capitalism and narrow state interests.

Soviet global communist adventures had all failed. And so did the Soviet Union by 1991. Yet, empirically, this was understood in the 1960s as complicit in the framework of racism and state-self-agency. Were people with bags of rice on their shoulders really a global threat to US hegemony? The only way to win Viet Nam was to form a land army and go toward Moscow. The Black Panthers and the University students at the University of California, Berkeley did not think so. Evidently, so did the United States of America’s government administration. Even when Soviet took over the North Viet Nam, their model of civilization had failed or had staggered. The Black Panthers, and Martin Luther King, Jr, had known the Viet Nam War was a failure and could not be won. In fact, after the Constitutional Crisis (Watergate) and the Pentagon Papers had been published, it became known that early on in the Viet Nam war the government administrators of the war understood that they were never going to win. They, therefore, sent US citizens to die for nothing more than fomenting the myth of a future victory. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew this as well as Nor Cal students partly because of the Black Panther’s commutations around the world and information from the different representatives of the United Nations. However, maybe this is the first time you are hearing this – it is all documented in US declassified sources. Now, were the panthers ignorant-gangster thugs? Apparently, it is more complex when we look at the facts instead of the spin and national spin of the national narrative. The myth that the United States of America could have won the Viet Nam war persists at the government level as well as popular culture today. They have argued that if the anti-war movement had not shut down the war effort by popular consensus, the United States could have won the war. World War II was fought in less than three years. It took two years after Pearl Harbor just to ready the U.S. military. It took ten years of war in Viet Nam, where the United States of America bombed north Vietnam into a parking lot, but never was able to gain a foothold on victory. This myth persists today because it is argued that the U.S forces could not fight a in the jungles of Viet Nam, and at the same time the classic narrative is the U.S could have won the war if it just stuck in there fore more years. In fact, this myth assures that the U.S. is invincible today and this was why the term “Shock and Awe,” was coined for the initial attack on Baghdad, Iraq War II (2003). It was believed at that time in Viet Nam that the U.S military and the government did not advance and put forth a show of powerful force. Although, by statistic gathering, the tonnage of bombs used on Viet Nam consisted of seven-times the total amount used by the Allies in World War II, it was not enough.  

Still, since the Soviets were arming the North Vietnamese, the only real option was to fight the Soviets, in which the President administration refused to do and understood with this tactical plan the war was unwinnable. While détente was celebrated, it did not have the desired effect initially agreed upon. Nixon as anti-communist strategist, reopened lines of communication with Mao Tse-tung, who himself was having skirmishes along the Russo-Sino boarders. Since R.F. Williams was in China with Mao, and had shared stories with Ho Chi Mhin on Harlem visits, the black communities had direct lines of information available to them that eventually had pedagogical purposes for their rationalization for postcolonization within the U.S domestic sphere. Yet, the realization that the U.S A. was not this behemoth of a superpower, predicated upon administrative fears of fighting another nuclear power, it ill effects effeminized the U.S.A. hegemonic-bravadoic image around the world. The U.S.A. lost Viet Nam, but remains committed that it was never lost – it was the anti-war movement that ultimately lost this battle of ideologies, the blacks and the American college youth were to blame.

In 1976 a Senate report on COINTELPRO illustrated the FBI, and State, local and Federal agencies were involved in setting up, slandering, libeling, falsely imprisoning, murdering, and firebombing Black Panther Party members across the USA. By 1970, 233 out of 229 total FBI counterintelligence programs were aimed at Black Panther Party members and other black liberation groups across the nation. Dr. And Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was also a “main” target. What did he do that was so wrong? The FBI were engaged in illegal guerrilla warfare against the black liberation movements, murdering, false imprisoning, exiling, and destroying black parties and families across the USA – to put them back into abject poverty in the Ghetto so the white as national narrative could regain composure that Blacks are slothful, lazy, indolent, and ignorant inhuman creatures.  Till today, this national narrative still persists. But there are those who can see through the smoke and mirrors of historiography.

Most people in this world do not know that remaining and/or alive Panthers went on to be top scholars at the highest institutions in the land, doctors, lawyers, PhDs., and continual community activists. The government and the FBI of the 1960s would like you to remember the black liberation movements as thugs, ignorant gangsters, inhuman murderous sub-humans that were at the same time lazy and only concerned with drugs – and welfare queens. In fact, in white Germany, white welfare kings and queens were a problem in the 1980s and 1990s. Some of them had yachts and homes on the Caribbean. But wait, they were white? It makes no difference; there are always those types in any civilization.

Yet in reality, Black Panthers started grass-root movements of charity building for their community, feeding school children who were poor in their communities. The Oakland Black Panthers were always connected with whites and Latins who unified with the black liberation movements, and created a dizzying amount of social programs that we take for granted today – such as Free Medical Research Health Institutes, schools for poor children, Sickle Cell Anemia Research Foundations. Read their manifesto, “what we want, what we believe.” It sounds like something a white person would want and believe. Yet, the call for “power to determine our own destiny,” is described by the White media as dangerous. Surely the whites were not allowing them jobs even after having equivalent training, so therefore how do whites call them lazy, ignorant, gangsters with a clear conscience? Many whites do not like to look at these facts in history. Any white that brings these facts up is marginalized, at least – because of that flawed persistent narrative.

That is why they started to picket and begun civil disobedience. You will also note the white students from campuses of the US also joined in helping blacks secure jobs in restaurant, hotel and retail business in the early 1960s civil disobedience protests--- because prior to this period it was ‘back of the house to front of the house’ mentality of their parent’s generation. If you do not understand that,  it is jobs that were in the front part of the business that are considered better paying jobs and the whites controlled the front jobs and denied blacks access for decades.  

Blacks picked up guns to protect themselves in the south, and in the northwest picked up guns to show police if they roughed up innocent blacks on the streets they would be shot. As rhetoric, they called it “Patrolling the pigs.” Whites do not like to be reminded of that fact.  It was heavily documented.    I understand the media made Black Panthers’ out as a separatist revolutionary movement. Yes, maybe some when too far, but groups such as the Black Panthers were shut down for standing up for themselves. If you actually read their works, and listen to what they were saying – instead of white dominated dictionary, white encyclopedias and white-centric-texts or film, you will get a different perspective. In fact, their empirical evidence proves that the opposite can be said of the whites: ~ its hatred, violence, tribal separatism, and disdain for anything "black." By picking up guns, they were protecting their families, just like whites had done for centuries. I guess this was impermissible? If slavery is a two-way street than why should not racism be viewed in the same vain? Many former Black Panthers are now doctors, Ph. Ds., professors at prestigious universities and community leaders. Cannot say that enough! No it is not a romanticized version. The media had depicted them as common uneducated gangsters. Read Robert Williams’ “Negro with Guns” (1962), and maybe you can see something from a different perspective. This was the black empowerment movement of armed resistance (not offence) that the media and Washington southern sympathizers to the white supremacists’ had called violent. It is the genesis of the movement in this discussion.


[1] Historians view autobiographies with suspicion, this does not mean what is in them is not true. It just needs to be tested with other sources in order for it to count, many historians claim.

[2] Postel, Charles, in personal lecture notes, History 124 b, 8 April (Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, 2008).

[3] Postel, Charles, in personal lecture notes, History 124 b, 8 April (Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, 2008).

[4] Postel, Charles, in personal lecture notes, History 124 b, 8 April (Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, 2008).

[5] Self, Robert O, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Post War Oakland (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2003), p. 226.

[6] Robert O Self, in personal lecture notes, History 124 b, as guest lecture, 11 March (Berkeley: University of California, Berkeley, 2008).

[7] Ibid., Self. Also, understand that Self is referring too racial contexts of WWII Europe, where the Nazi were linked to white racism back in the U.S.A.’s media.  The blacks argued, if you are to make considerable efforts to stop racism in Europe, why not stop racism at home. One outcrop of this discourse was the Double ‘V’ camping. However, more than this campaign, international social-structures became communicated back into the communities of the U.S.A. More people now understood multi-racism, as a global topic (-mjm).

[8] Ibid., Self.

[9] Ibid., Self.

[10] Ibid., Self.

[11] Ibid., Self.

[12] Ibid., Self.

[13] William Jefferson Blythe III, a.k.a. Bill Clinton said the G I Bill was the most important legislation in the twentieth century (-mjm).

[14] Ibid.,  Self, in personal lecture notes.

[15] Ibid., Self.

[16] Ibid., Self.

[17] Ibid., Self.,  ( De ( or Move) industrialization) 1970s-‘80s the Industry leaves and a void is left, and the new focus of business is the Silicon Valley.


[18] Ibid., Self.

[19] Ibid., Self.

[20] Ibid., Self.

[21] Ibid., Self.

[22] Ibid., Self.

[23] Ibid., Self.

[24] Ibid., Self.

[25] Ibid., Self.

[26] Ibid., Self.

[27] Self, Robert O, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Post War Oakland (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2003), p. 210.

[28] Self, Robert O, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Post War Oakland (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2003), p. 202.

[29] Self, Robert O, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Post War Oakland (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2003), p. 203.

[30] Self, Robert O, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Post War Oakland (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2003), pp. 203-204.

[31] Self, Robert O, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Post War Oakland (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2003), pp. 205-206.

[32] Self, Robert O, American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Post War Oakland (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2003), p. 206.

[33] Marcus Garvey is considered one or the first serious Black Nationalist in U.S history. He actually envisioned taking all the African American’s back to Africa and forming a colony that one day, be dreamed, and would rival other powerful countries. Surprisingly, even subjugated and segregated, many U.S. freed blacks refused to adopt this ideal, although Marcus still attained a loyal following by them which had brought to blacks, as remembered, the first taste of pride for their African traditions. His mark communicated instead of believing anything white people would promise or say to the blacks, blacks needed their own will of “self-help,” if they were ever going to better their lot. What Garvey had promoted in the early twentieth century, the 1960s-1970s black liberation movements (still realized today) realized this “self-help” vision on a national scale. In order to survive, blacks had to help blacks.



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