Huey P. Newton

Huey Percy Newton was born on February 17, 1942, in Monroe, Louisiana. Newton helped establish the African-American political organization the Black Panther Party, and became a leading figure in the Black Power movement of the 1960s. In 1966, Newton and Bobby Seale founded the left-wing Black Panther Party for Self Defense in Oakland, California. The organization was central to the Black Power movement, making headlines with its controversial rhetoric and militaristic style. Newton decided to pursue his education at Merritt College, during which time he received a months-long prison term for a knife assault, and later attended the University of San Francisco School of Law . It was at Merritt where he met Bobby Seale. The two were briefly involved with political groups at the school before they set out to create one of their own. Founded in 1966, they called their group the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Unlike many of the other social and political organizers of the time, they took a more militant stance to the plight of black communities in America. The group set forth its political goals in a document entitled the Ten-Point Program, which called for better housing, jobs and education for African Americans. It also called for an end to economic exploitation of black communities, along with military exemption. The organization itself was not afraid to punctuate its message with dramatic appearances. For example, to protest a gun bill in 1967, members of the Panthers entered the California Legislature armed. (Newton actually wasn't present at the demonstration.) The action was a shocking one that made news across the country, and Newton emerged as a leading figure in the black militant movement. The Black Panthers wanted to improve life in black communities and took a stance against police brutality in urban neighborhoods by mostly white cops. Members of the group would go to arrests in progress and watch for abuse. Panther members ultimately clashed with police several times. The party's treasurer, Bobby Hutton, was killed while still a teenager during one of these conflicts in 1968. Newton faced a number of criminal charges over the years and at one point fled to Cuba before returning to the U.S. and earning his doctorate. Struggling with drug and alcohol addiction in his later years, he was killed in 1989 in Oakland.

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