50 years and still 10 points: 1966 Black Panther Party Platform and Program

While we’ve been making this issue of Slingshot, it’s seemed like every day there has been a new video of the police killing an unarmed black man. Terence Crutcher in Tulsa, Keith Lamont Scott in Charlotte and Alfred Olango in El Cajon — just this week. The institutional racism that disregards the lives of black people and puts them at risk merely for being in public, for driving, for walking down the street — which sees every black person as a violent threat — has reached a boiling point. This is not about rogue police — this is about a rogue society that permits this to continue. Resistance is possible: now is the time for us to stand up.

In Oakland, we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the formation of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (BPP) in 1966 which was initially a response to out-of-control police violence against the black community. Things haven’t changed much in 50 years. The BPP published a Ten Point Program in each issue of their newspaper which is still inspiring.

This summer, people associated with the Black Lives Matter movement introduced Campaign Zero, a 10 point campaign to end police violence. The two 10 point documents — separated by 50 years — are interesting to compare. So here’s a copy of the BPP 10 points (edited slightly for length) and excerpts from the Campaign Zero 10 points which are too long to publish in full but are available on-line.

The Black Panthers: Ten Point Program

1. We Want Freedom. We Want Power To Determine The Destiny Of Our Black And Oppressed Communities.

We believe that Black and oppressed people will not be free until we are able to determine our destinies in our own communities ourselves, by fully controlling all the institutions which exist in our communities.

2. We Want Full Employment For Our People.

… We believe that if the American businessmen will not give full employment, then the technology and means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.

3. We Want An End To The Robbery By The Capitalists Of Our Black And Oppressed Communities.

We believe that this racist government has robbed us and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised 100

years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of our fifty million Black people. Therefore, we feel this is a modest demand that we make.

4. We Want Decent Housing, Fit For The Shelter Of Human Beings.

We believe that if the landlords will not give decent housing to our Black and oppressed communities, then housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that the people in our communities, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for the people.

5. We Want Decent 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.

We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of the self. If you do not have knowledge of yourself and your position in the society and in the world, then you will have little chance to know anything else.

6. We Want Completely Free Health Care For All Black And Oppressed People.

We believe that the government must provide, free of charge, for the people, health facilities which will not only treat our illnesses, most of which have come about as a result of our oppression, but which will also develop preventive medical programs to guarantee our future survival. We believe that mass health education and research programs must be developed to give all Black and oppressed people access to advanced scientific and medical information, so we may provide our selves with proper medical attention and care.

7. We Want An Immediate End To Police Brutality And Murder Of Black People, Other People Of Color,All Oppressed People Inside The United States.

We believe that the racist and fascist government of the United States uses its domestic enforcement agencies to carry out its program of oppression against black people, other people of color and poor people inside the united States. We believe it is our right, therefore, to defend ourselves against such armed forces and that all Black and oppressed people should be armed for self defense of our homes and communities against these fascist police forces.

8. We Want An Immediate End To All Wars Of Aggression.

We believe that the various conflicts which exist around the world stem directly from the aggressive desire of the United States ruling circle and government to force its domination upon the oppressed people of the world. We believe that if the United States government or its lackeys do not cease these aggressive wars it is the right of the people to defend themselves by any means necessary against their aggressors.

9. We Want Freedom For All Black And Oppressed People Now Held In U. S. Federal, State, County, City And Military Prisons And Jails. We Want Trials By A Jury Of Peers For All Persons Charged With So-Called Crimes Under The Laws Of This Country.

We believe that the many Black and poor oppressed people now held in United States prisons and jails have not received fair and impartial trials under a racist and fascist judicial system and should be free from incarceration. We believe in the ultimate elimination of all wretched, inhuman penal institutions, because the masses of men and women imprisoned inside the United States or by the United States military are the victims of oppressive conditions which are the real cause of their imprisonment. We believe that when persons are brought to trial they must be guaranteed, by the United States, juries of their peers, attorneys of their choice and freedom from imprisonment while awaiting trial.

10. We Want Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice, Peace And People’s Community Control Of Modern Technology.

…[words from US Declaration of Independence from 1776]