The Issue of Poverty in Black Panther

The Issue of Poverty in Black Panther

Poverty is one of the main themes of the Black Panther Party. This is a revolutionary party that was founded in California in 1966. The founders were Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. This is a self-defense party that was formed to fight for the rights of African Americans. The party was founded after the assassination of the black voice, Malcolm X as well as the brutal killing of the black teen by the police in San Francisco (Bloom et al., 23). In the beginning, the party was viewed to promote the gangster activities. However, the leadership of the party knew that their goal was having the needs of the African Americans satisfied. The focus of this paper will be briefly to outline how the issue of poverty is related to the party.

In order to fully grasp how poverty is linked to the Black Panther Party is imperative to dig the history before the party was formed. Despite the passage of the civil rights legislation in the 1960s, African Americans continued to suffer the economic and social unfairness (Bloom et al., 45). They were living in abject poverty, and their lives were characterized by poor living conditions, high rate of unemployment as well as deterioration of health.  Despite these living conditions, the African Americans were also under the cruel brutality from the police.


Therefore, this is the context that made the party be found in 1966. The conditions were unbearable, and there was a need to form a revolutionary voice to campaign for the blacks. The party was formed to fight for the liberation for the African Americans. It never sided with the African American capitalist and elites that were viewed as the fuel of the exploitation and the source of oppression of their fellows. The goal of the party was to ensure that the black had pride in themselves; the community was under control and the unification of the civil rights. In simple terms, to provide social injustice was not in the face of America.

Apart from fighting against assault from the police, the party tried to eliminate poverty through the launching of more than 35 Survival Programs. These were programs that served the community with the provision of education, ambulance services and the distribution of shoes the poor. To be specific, the Free Breakfast program for children was launched in 1969. This program made an impact in every city that had the chapter of the party. For example, St Augustine Church in Oakland managed such a program where the children would go for food as well as mentoring.

Similarly, the second children program was launched in San Francisco and later on, other facilities were open with the capability to feed more than one thousand children from all cultural backgrounds. In order to take care of the poor health conditions the African American were living in, the party launched free health clinics (Davenport et al., 32). These were the facilities that would offer treatment against tuberculosis and other diseases without any charge for the African Americans. Other programs include free plumbing and open housing cooperatives.

Therefore, unlike other parties that are formed with the goal of fighting for power, the Black Panther Party was mainly focused on the unification of the rights of the blacks. The party promoted that unity through the forming of programs to eliminate poverty among African Americans.


Work cited

Bloom, Joshua, Waldo E. Martin Jr, and Waldo E. Martin. Black against empire: The history and politics of the Black Panther Party. Univ of California Press, 2016.

Davenport, Christian. Media bias, perspective, and state repression: The Black Panther Party. Cambridge University Press, 2009.