The Washington chapter of the Black Panther Party : from revolutionary militants to community activists

UNCW Author/Contributor (non-UNCW co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
John Preusser (Creator)
The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW )
Web Site:
Glenn Harris

Abstract: Forces singular to the Washington D.C. black community shaped the experience of the Washington chapter, and the Chapter’s best work for the poor of Washington was when the remaining Panther members agreed to work within the system and ignore the militant posture of the National Office of the Black Panther Party. This thesis focuses on the unique problems and persecutions of the D.C. chapter, their contributions to the community from their programs, and their individual activism and exploits. Using primary sources and secondary accounts of the party, along with interviews of former members, the D.C. Panthers experience differed from other chapters around the nation. The official Washington chapter was established three years after Oakland, Chicago, and New York; and the National Office of the Black Panther Party looked to set up an outpost of the Party in the belly of the beast, the capital of capitalism. The pressures put on the chapter in the first six months forced a transformation. The remaining members provided programs for the poor, and the less dedicated members soon lost interest or were incarcerated. The Washington chapter was in hostile territory, especially with the internationalist and integrationist platform of the Oakland headquarters. The numbers dwindled, but the idealists continued to work for the community. Today, many ex-members of the Washington chapter volunteer to help with the deprived of D.C. The lessons learned during the four years (1970-1974) of the Washington chapter’s existence produced several community activists focused on an ignored and oppressed segment of society.

Additional Information

A Thesis Submitted to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirement for the Degree of Masters of Arts
Language: English
Date: 2009
Black Panther Party--History--Washington (D.C.), Black power--United States--History--20th century
Black Panther Party -- History -- Washington (D.C.)
Black power -- United States -- History -- 20th century

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