In 1966, Black Panther Party founders Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale created the 10-Point Program, a set of rules that members of the organization would subscribe to and live by. The guidelines were eventually made available to the public on May 15, 1967, when they were published in the second edition of The Black Panther, which was the party’s weekly newsletter. (1)
The platform is broken down into two sections. The first is titled, “What We Want Now!” Here, Newton and Seale break down the 10 things the Black Panther Party requests from the United States government, which includes — among other things — jobs, exemption from military service and the freeing of all black men held in jails and prisons. (1)
The second section is, “What We Believe.” The components of this section are included after each “What We Want Now!” statement, and further explain what the party wants and why it wants it. (1)
- We Want Freedom. We Want Power To Determine The Destiny Of Our Black Community.
We believe that Black people will not be free until we are able to determine our destiny.
- We Want Full Employment For Our People.
We believe that the federal government is responsible and obligated to give every man employment or a guaranteed income. We believe that if the White American businessmen will not give full employment, then the means of production should be taken from the businessmen and placed in the community so that the people of the community can organize and employ all of its people and give a high standard of living.
- We Want An End To The Robbery By The Capitalists Of Our Black Community.
We believe that this racist government has robbed us, and now we are demanding the overdue debt of forty acres and two mules. Forty acres and two mules were promised 100 years ago as restitution for slave labor and mass murder of Black people. We will accept the payment in currency which will be distributed to our many communities. The Germans are now aiding the Jews in Israel for the genocide of the Jewish people. The Germans murdered six million Jews. The American racist has taken part in the slaughter of over fifty million Black people; therefore, we feel that this is a modest demand that we make.
- We Want Decent Housing Fit For The Shelter Of Human Beings.
We believe that if the White Landlords will not give decent housing to our Black community, then the housing and the land should be made into cooperatives so that our community, with government aid, can build and make decent housing for its people.
- We Want Education For Our People That Exposes The True Nature Of This Decadent American Society. We Want Education That Teaches Us Our True History And Our Role In The Present-Day Society.
We believe in an educational system that will give to our people a knowledge of self. If a man does not have knowledge of himself and his position in society and the world, then he has little chance to relate to anything else.
- We Want All Black Men To Be Exempt From Military Service.
We believe that Black people should not be forced to fight in the military service to defend a racist government that does not protect us. We will not fight and kill other people of color in the world who, like Black people, are being victimized by the White racist government of America. We will protect ourselves from the force and violence of the racist police and the racist military, by whatever means necessary.
- We Want An Immediate End To Police Brutality And Murder Of Black People.
We believe we can end police brutality in our Black community by organizing Black self-defense groups that are dedicated to defending our Black community from racist police oppression and brutality. The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States gives a right to bear arms. We therefore believe that all Black people should arm themselves for self- defense.
- We Want Freedom For All Black Men Held In Federal, State, County And City Prisons And Jails.
We believe that all Black people should be released from the many jails and prisons because they have not received a fair and impartial trial.
- We Want All Black People When Brought To Trial To Be Tried In Court By A Jury Of Their Peer Group Or People From Their Black Communities, As Defined By The Constitution Of The United States.
We believe that the courts should follow the United States Constitution so that Black people will receive fair trials. The Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution gives a man a right to be tried by his peer group. A peer is a person from a similar economic, social, religious, geographical, environmental, historical and racial background. To do this the court will be forced to select a jury from the Black community from which the Black defendant came. We have been, and are being, tried by all-White juries that have no understanding of the “average reasoning man” of the Black community.
- We Want Land, Bread, Housing, Education, Clothing, Justice And Peace.
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume, among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect of the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
The man behind the plan
Huey P. Newton was born in Louisiana, but moved with his family to Oakland, California at a young age. He got into trouble a lot growing up, but despite this, he eventually grew to take his education very seriously. He graduated high school in 1959, and a few years later he attended Merritt College, where he met Bobby Seale. The two created the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in 1966, and set up the 10-Point Program as the backbone of the organization. (3) Newton was influenced by two major political ideologies — both Black nationalism and Marxism — when helping write the guidelines. (2)
Just a year after setting up the Black Panther Party, Newton was suspected of murdering a police officer during a traffic stop. He was ultimately sentenced to two to 15 years in federal prison, but public backlash ultimately led to his release in 1970. A few years later, he was accused of killing a teenage prostitute and assaulting a tailor. In 1974, he fled the United States for Cuba, where he remained until 1977. (3)
Twelve years later, Newton’s violent past eventually caught up to him, as he was gunned down in Oakland by a member of the Black Guerrilla Family on August 22, 1989. (3)
Change in Philosophy
Six years after the 10-point program’s introduction, Newton made some adjustments to the guidelines to reflect the new direction of the Black Panther Party, which grew to adopt the plight of all disenfranchised groups of people. (2) Among the major changes to the platform include the removal of the demand calling for the exemption of black men from military service, which was replaced by the demand for free healthcare, which is listed below: (4)
- We want completely free health care for all Black and oppressed people.
- We believe that the government must provide, free of charge, for the people, health facilities which will not only treat our illnesses, most of which have come about as a result of our oppression, but which will also develop preventative medical programs to guarantee our future survival. We believe that mass health education and research programs must be developed to give all Black and oppressed people access to advanced scientific and medical information, so we may provide ourselves with proper medical attention and care.
The new 10-Point Program also combined the bulletpoints that called for the freedom of black people from incarceration and the trial by jury of “peers for all persons.”
Another new point that was instituted was the one listed below, which was likely influenced by the United States’ participation in the Vietnam War:
We want an immediate end to all wars of aggression.
- We believe that the various conflicts which exist around the world stem directly from the aggressive desires of the U.S. ruling circle and government to force its domination upon the oppressed people of the world. We believe that if the U.S. government or its lackeys do not cease these aggressive wars that it is the right of the people to defend themselves by any means necessary against their aggressors.
In 1992, rapper Tupac Shakur, whose mother — Afeni Shakur — was a member of the Black Panther Party, helped create the T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E. code, a set of guidelines which were designed to control violence in the black community, which had become increasingly volatile due to the rise of street gangs. And, much like he did in his music, Tupac called on the same philosophies that made up the 10-Point Program — most notably a disdain for the American government and the police — when creating the guidelines, which are listed below: (5)
- All new Jacks to the game must know: a) He’s going to get rich. b) He’s going to jail. c) He’s going to die.
- Crew Leaders: You are responsible for legal/financial payment commitments to crew members; your word must be your bond.
- One crew’s rat is every crew’s rat. Rats are now like a disease; sooner or later we all get it; and they should too.
- Crew leader and posse should select a diplomat, and should work ways to settle disputes. In unity, there is strength!
- Car jacking in our Hood is against the Code.
- Slinging to children is against the Code.
- Having children slinging is against the Code.
- No slinging in schools.
- Since the rat Nicky Barnes opened his mouth; ratting has become accepted by some. We’re not having it.
- Snitches is outta here.
- The Boys in Blue don’t run nothing; we do. Control the hood, and make it safe for squares.
- No slinging to pregnant Sisters. That’s baby killing; that’s genocide!
- Know your target, who’s the real enemy.
- Civilians are not a target and should be spared.
- Harm to children will not be forgiven.
- Attacking someone’s home where their family is known to reside, must be altered or checked.
- Senseless brutality and rape must stop.
- Our old folks must not be abused.
- Respect our Sisters. Respect our Brothers.
- Sisters in the Life must be respected if they respect themselves.
- Military disputes concerning business areas within the community must be handled professionally and not on the block.
- No shooting at parties.
- Concerts and parties are neutral territories; no shooting!
- Know the Code; it’s for everyone.
- Be a real ruff neck. Be down with the code of the Thug Life.
- Protect yourself at all times. (6)
(2) Anderson, Joshua. “A Tension in the Political Thought of Huey P. Newton.” Journal of African American Studies 16, no. 2 (November 30, 2011): 249-67. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs12111-011-9207-9.(3) “Huey P. Newton.” Biography.com. February 25, 2016. Accessed April 18, 2017. http://www.biography.com/people/huey-p-newton-37369.(4) “March 1972 Platform.” History of the Black Panther Party. Accessed April 18, 2017. https://web.stanford.edu/group/blackpanthers/history.shtml.(5) Vaught, Seneca. “Tupac’s Law: Incarceration, T.H.U.G.L.I.F.E., and the Crisis of Black Masculinity.” Spectrum: A Journal on Black Men 2, no. 2 (Spring 2014): 87-115. https://www.academia.edu/8258642/Tupacs_Law_Incarceration_and_the_Crisis_of_Black_Masculinity.