28/02/2011 13:19

Hundreds of thousands of black as well as white youth had marched throughout the streets of Oakland and all over America in support of the Free Huey Movement as it had come to be called. While Huey was eventually convicted, it was not on the original charge of first degree murder but for simple manslaughter. Soon, however, even that conviction was set aside and a new trial was ordered. In July of 1970, then, Huey was indeed set free from jail. Thousands greeted him.

The celebrations seemed meaningless in light of the July 7, 1970 murder of 17 year old Jonathan Jackson (George Jacksons brother) in the incident that gave rise to the famous arrest and trial of Angela Davis. The question of Huey’s freedom was nearly forgotten when well known Party leader Eldridge Cleaver, living in exile in Algeria, challenged the Party’s agenda of social programs and proposed a terrorist one. By the end of 1970, Cleaver was expelled from the Party in a nasty riff that culminated in the murder of Party loyalist Sam Napier in New York. Still, the Party continued to build its programs and move its agenda, as it began to consolidate its efforts in its home base of Oakland, California.

Over the next few years, until 1973, the Party maintained and built its agenda, despite the brutal assassination at San Quentin prison in August of 1971 of Party field marshal and author George Jackson. Nevertheless, in 1972­3, the Party entered into electoral politics in Oakland by running Bobby Seale and Elaine Brown for public office, for mayor and city councilwoman respectively. Though that election was lost, per se, it allowed the Black Panther Party to solidify a broad base of support for its future efforts. In 1974, there was great upheaval in the internal affairs of the Party, so much so that by the time Huey Newton went into self­imposed exile, rather than stand trial for the murder of a young prostitute (for which he would be acquitted), most of the original leadership was gone. David Hilliard was expelled while in prison; Bobby Seale was expelled. Elaine Brown took over the chairmanship of the Party during those three years that Newton was in exile, in Cuba.