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The Black Panthers

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The Black Panthers march in New York City, July 22, 1968.

Founded in Oakland in 1966 by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton, the Black Panthers gained national attention for their militancy, Maoism, uniforms, and willingness to bear arms near police. Yet critics tended to ignore the fact that the Panthers' carrying of guns was legal under California law, and to overlook their many non-controversial activities, including running medical clinics and free breakfast programs for the poor. The goal of ending police brutality was only one of a ten-point Panther program that emphasized social and economic justice. Like Malcolm X, the Panthers would not renounce the use of force in self-defense, and they inevitably courted violence. Branded "the greatest threat" to America's internal security by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, the Panthers found themselves under assault by the FBI and police. Tensions culminated in a December 4, 1969, raid that left Chicago Panthers leader Fred Hampton and a colleague dead. The government eventually settled a civil rights lawsuit stemming from the incident for $1.85 million dollars.

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