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Top 7 Black Panther Party Programs That Were More Empowering Than Federal Government Programs!!

Black panther free breakfast

The Breakfast Program

The free breakfast for schoolchildren program was set up in Berkeley, California, in 1968 by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. It was the first significant community program organized by the Panthers, and perhaps the most well known. By the end of 1969, free breakfast was served in 19 cities, under the sponsorship of the national headquarters and 23 local affiliates. More than 20,000 children received full free breakfast (bread, bacon, eggs, grits) before going to their elementary or junior high school.

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Health Clinics

The clinics were called People’s Free Medical Centers (PFMC) and eventually were established in 13 cities across the country, from Cleveland to New Haven, Connecticut; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, to Los Angeles. Women, according to sociologist Alondra Nelson, were the backbone of the effort —not surprising, considering that approximately 60 percent of Black Panther Party members were female. Some of the clinics were in storefronts, others in trailers or hastily built structures, and most did not last long. But they offered services such as testing for high blood pressure, lead poisoning, tuberculosis and diabetes; cancer detection screenings; physical exams; treatments for colds and flu; and immunization against polio, measles, rubella, and diphtheria. Nelson reports that many of the women and men involved in the PFMCs went on to become credentialed health care professionals.

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Youth Institute

The Intercommunal Youth Institute was established in January 1971 by the Black Panther Party. In 1974, the name was changed to Oakland Community School. The Black Panther Party goal was to get children to learn to their highest potential and to strengthen their minds so that one day they would be successful. The school graduated its first class in June 1974. In September 1977, California Gov. Edmund “Jerry” Brown Jr. and the California Legislature gave Oakland Community School a special award for “having set the standard for the highest level of elementary education in the state.”

 Black Panther Party - 1960s

Seniors Against a Fearful Environment (SAFE)

SAFE, a nonprofit corporation, was started by the Black Panther Party at the request of a group of senior citizens for the purpose of preventing muggings and attacks upon the elderly, particularly when they go out to cash their Social Security or pension checks. Prior to approaching the Black Panther Party, the seniors had gone to the Oakland Police Department to request protection. There the seniors were told that they “should walk close to the curb” in the future, according to a Panther report by David Hilliard, who served as the Party’s chief of staff. The program offered free transportation and escort services to the residents of the Satellite Senior Homes, a residential complex for the elderly in Oakland, California.

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People’s Free Ambulance Service

The service provided free, rapid transportation for sick or injured people without time-consuming checks into the patients’ financial status or means. The People’s Free Ambulance Service operated with at least one ambulance on a 24-hour emergency basis, and from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on a nonemergency or convalescent basis, according to Hilliard. People were transported to and from the hospital or doctor’s office in a modern, comfortable ambulance by courteous, efficient and knowledgeable attendants.

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Free Food Program

This program provided free food to Black and other oppressed people. The intent of the Free Food Program was to supplement the groceries of Black and poor people until economic conditions allowed them to purchase good food at reasonable prices, according to Hilliard. The Free Food Program provided two basic services to the community: 1. An ongoing supply of food to meet their daily needs. 2. Periodic mass distributions of food to reach a larger segment of the community than can be serviced from the ongoing supply. The community was provided with bags of fresh food containing items such as eggs, canned fruits and vegetables, chickens, milk, potatoes, rice, bread, cereal and so forth. A minimum of a week’s supply of food was included in each bag.

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The Black Student Alliance

Founded in May 1972 when several Black student unions in the Bay Area pulled together with the goal of creating concrete programs on the campus that would unify the student body and Black students with the Black community. In order to make Bay Area colleges better serve and be more responsible to the surrounding poor and oppressed communities, the Black Student Alliance instituted a program for free books and supplies; a free transportation program; child care services; a financial aid program; a food program serving good, nutritious food at reasonable prices; and the initiation of relevant courses along with the demand for better instructors.

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The Black Panther Newspaper

The paper was the official organ of the Black Panther Party. It was a tabloid-size newspaper that published regularly every week starting in April 1967. It was copyrighted by Huey P. Newton and was 24 pages, distributed nationally. The Black Panther provided news and information about the work of the Black Panther Party chapters throughout the country; news and news analysis of the Black and other oppressed communities in the United States, Africa and around the world; theoretical writings of party ideologists; and general news features on all matters relative to the liberation of humankind from oppression of any kind, according to chief of staff David Hilliard’s summary of Panther programs.

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Written by How Africa

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