In 1966, college students and Oakland, California, residents Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton laid the foundation for a radical liberation group that would later become the Black Panther Party. The Party’s initial Platform, published in October of 1966, advocated for proper housing, freedom from prison, an end to police brutality, among other things, for Black people in the United States. This theory, with an emphasis on correcting centuries of oppression of Black people at the hands of state violence through armed resistance and utilizing the law, energized activists across the country and beyond, and spurred the formation of local chapters as well as international solidarity groups. While many chapters had overlap with the national headquarters, such as offering free breakfast and other survival programs, each was tailored to meet the specific needs of the community it served. These goals, however, were met with extremely hostile resistance efforts from the government, most notably through COINTELPRO, an FBI program launched by J. Edgar Hoover to extinguish the Panthers and other radical leftist groups. Due to these measures, which resulted in the murder and imprisonment of a number of prominent Panther members, much of the history of the Party has been lost or intentionally distorted.
The purpose of the Black Panther Party Chapter Archive website is to congregate the efforts of Professor Delio Vasquez’s Spring 2021 Interdisciplinary Seminar, “The Black Panther Party: History and Theory of a Political Movement,” to unearth these stories. Our midterm assignment was to construct reports on a local chapter of our choice, researching their history, programs, composition, and other details, and the website presents these reports together, organized by region. It is our hope that in making these projects public, we can aid in the effort to make this history more accessible and, as stated in point five of the Black Panthers’ Ten-Point Program, “We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present-day society.”1
Use the dropdown menus at the top of the webpage to travel through the different regions that had active Black Panther chapters. While the majority were located in the United States, there were also a number of international solidarity groups, which are also represented here.