The Black Panther's Ten-Point Program

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The Black Panther’s Ten-Point Program, later known as The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense Ten-Point Platform and Program, is, in my view, the most significant document of the 1960s in the United States. To explain why I make such a statement, three points of assessment will be utilised in order to explain why; these are context, contribution to the climate of the 1960s and the importance of the central issue of the document in the period of the 1960s.

The context in which the Ten-Point Program was written reveals key events which helped to shape the ten points. One major factor was the Vietnam War, the Black Panthers recognised the importance of the Vietnam War and they utilised a theme of challenging the Vietnam War in their ten-point
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The Panthers, as one of their points, wanted full exemption from military service, as they felt the government in charge were victimising people of other colour, both home and abroad. This was in line with growing anti-war movement against U.S involvement in Vietnam, although the anti-war movement began with the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) and the new-left, soon civil rights activists such as Martin Luther King became involved in April 1967. So in May 1967, when the Panthers publically displayed their party's stance on the Vietnam War, it showed a point of unity between different parts of, not only the Civil Rights movement, but also a bridge (albeit tenuous) between new-left thinking and the far-left Black Panther Party (BPP). Vietnam also lended cause to how the ten-point program emphasises self defence, the stress on self-defence was one of the foundations on which the Black Panther Party was founded, but also one of the reasons why they came to such prominence in the years to follow after the ten-point program. Ideas over self defence also enabled for the Panthers to advance anti-imperialist ideology that “linked the oppression of antiwar protesters to the oppression of blacks and Vietnamese”. By relating their cause to that of the cause of the Vietnamese, the Panthers could set themselves in the context that by challenging…show more content…
Aside from the overarching context and the social/political contribution, the ten-point program challenged the very nature of liberalism and liberal politics in the U.S during the 1960s; which I find the most telling and I wish to reveal why this make the program the most important document of the period. When the Black Panthers came to the front of the national stage, through a combination of media attention and the challenging of the political system; they militarised black nationalism to an extent that was never seen before. The militancy of the Panthers, combined with a social justice program that put immense pressure on the government, in effect challenged the modern liberalism that was established under President Roosevelt with the New Deal and mirrored by President Johnson with his ‘Great Society’. The Panther’s ten-point program and how the enacted it; challenged the liberal dialogue of the 1960s by revealing some keys flaws in it. One of these exposures was that when a black radical group challenged and posed a threat to white-consensus-based liberals in government. The government's response was to suppress the Panthers means of enacting social change, as seen with the FBI’s Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) which aimed to suppress, disrupt and discredit the Panther party. The Panthers also emphasised the
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