Black Panther Party History and Geography

Bobby Seale and Huey Newton at Oakland headquarters

The Black Panther Party for Self Defense was founded in October 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale who had met at Merritt College in Oakland, California. Dedicated to revolutionary internationalism and armed self-defense of Black communities, the Panthers initially operated in Oakland and Berkeley then in San Francisco and Richmond. In May 1967, the organization gained world-wide media attention when Seale led a contingent of heavily armed Panthers into the California state capital in Sacramento to demonstrate their opposition to a proposed law that would restrict the right to carry loaded weapons on city streets. With membership surging in the Bay Area, self proclaimed Panther units were established in many other locations. Faced with this unauthorized expansion, in spring 1968 the Oakland organization began officially chartering chapters, requiring allegiance to BPP principles and centralizing authority. While BPP adherents could be found in cities and towns across the country, officially the Party chartered thirteen chapters.

Here we explore the history and geography of the Panther Party, including (1) maps and a timeline detailing more than 500 incidents involving the Black Panther Party in dozens of locations stretching from Berkeley to Algeria. (2) a set of interactive maps showing key locations in the six metropolitan areas where the Panthers enrolled the largest number of members and made the most impact. This section has been researched by a team of students from the History Department, University of Washington. Arianne Hermida coordinates this section.


Click to see map and photos
Black Panther Party Actions 1967-1979

Here are maps, a timeline, and database detailing more than 500 incidents involving the Black Panther Party in dozens of locations from 1967 to 1979. Data were drawn from the following newspapers: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Black Panther, Berkeley Barb, Berkeley Tribe, Chicago Defender, Pittsburgh Courier, Baltimore Afro American, Wall Street Journal, Seattle Times


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Mapping the Black Panther Party in Key Cities

In these maps we track the geography of the BPP in the six metropolitan areas where the Panthers enrolled that largest number of members and made the greatest impact: Oakland-SF Bay Area; New York; Chicago; Los Angeles; Seattle; Philadelphia. The maps show BPP offices, facilities, and the location of key events, combining historic images when we have them with google street views of the locations today.


Click to see map and photos

 

About the Black Panther Party section

The BPP project began as a collaborative class project in History 105 “The Peoples of the United States” in Winter 2016. Kevin Baum, Neil Blaine, Annelise Blanchard, Lindsay Boone, Connor Castro, Mitchell Henderson, Cindy Lee, Jillian Kaufman, Matthew Kelleher, Sungjoon Kim, Devin Mutha, Bao Ta, Nicholas Wedler, Zachary Williams, Steven Yong searched the ProQuest Historical Newspapers collection, gathering information and summarizing events. Arianne Hermida researched events in the Seattle Times, The Black Panther (available on It's About Time: The Black Panther Party Legacy & Alumni), Berkeley Barb, and Berkeley Tribe (from the Independent Voices Collection).

Section editor: Arianne Hermida

Maps: James Gregory, Arianne Hermida