2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Social Science

Spear or Shield?: Public Perceptions of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, 1966-1971
Travis D. Sewell
Dr. Thomas Zoumaras, Faculty Mentor

In the latter half of the 1960s, few Black Power organizations garnered as much national attention as the Black Panther Party. Images of armed African Americans at the California State Legislature, cries of “Free Huey” being heard nationwide, and a variety of other notable public actions made the country take notice of the Panthers. Despite their notoriety, the membership of the Panthers never exceeded a few thousand. This paper asserts that there are two main reasons for the relatively low membership. The first is that the ideology of the Panthers was often unclear regarding important issues such as the use of violence as a political tool and relationships with whites. The second is that while the African American community agreed with much of what the Panthers sought to achieve, they did not agree with the Panthers methods of accomplishing these goals.

Keywords: African American, History, Black Panthers, 1960s-1970s, Black Power

Topic(s):History

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 14-4
Location: VH 1320
Time: 9:15 am

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