|Cover - Uni of California Press|
Find out why a clear-cut history of the evolution and politics of the Black Panther Party remains unknown.
Black Against Empire (University of California Press, 2013) is the first comprehensive overview and analysis of the history and politics of the Black Panther Party.
Authors Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Jr., analyze key political questions, such as why so many young black people across the country risked their lives for the revolution, why the Party grew most rapidly during the height of repression, and why allies abandoned the Party at its peak of influence.
Learn about why it has been difficult to construct a clear history of the evolution of the Black Panther Party in this excerpt from the introduction.
The Panthers shut out the pack of zealous reporters and kept the door locked all day, but now the hallway was empty. Huey Newton and two comrades casually walked from the luxury suite down to the lobby and slipped out of the Hong Kong Hilton.
Their official escort took them straight across the border, and after a short flight, they exited the plane in Beijing, where they were greeted by cheering throngs.
It was late September 1971, and U.S. national security adviser Henry Kissinger had just visited China a couple months earlier.
The United States was proposing a visit to China by President Nixon himself and looking toward normalization of diplomatic relations. The Chinese leaders held varied views of these prospects and had not yet revealed whether they would accept a visit from Nixon.
But the Chinese government had been in frequent communication with the Black Panther Party, had hosted a Panther delegation a year earlier, and had personally invited Huey Newton, the Party’s leader, to visit.
With Nixon attempting to arrange a visit, Newton decided to accept the invitation and beat Nixon to China.
When Zhou Enlai, the Chinese premier, greeted Newton in Beijing, Newton took Zhou’s right hand between both his own hands. Zhou clasped Newton’s wrist with his left hand, and the two men looked deeply into each other’s eyes.
Newton presented a formal petition requesting that China “negotiate with ... Nixon for the freedom of the oppressed peoples of the world.” Then the two sat down for a private meeting.
On National Day, the October 1 anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, Premier Zhou honored the Panthers as national guests.
Tens of thousands of Chinese gathered in Tiananmen Square, waving red flags and applauding the Panthers. Revolutionary theater groups, folk dancers, acrobats, and the revolutionary ballet performed.
Huge red banners declared, “Peoples of the World, Unite to destroy the American aggressors and their lackeys.” At the official state dinner, first lady Jiang Qing sat with the Panthers.
A New York Times editorial encouraged Nixon “to think positively about Communist China and to ignore such potential sources of friction as the honors shown to Black Panther leader Huey Newton.”