THE LAST CHAPTER
During that time, Brown ran for Oakland public office again, this time garnering more than 44% of the vote along with the support of every labor union in the area. At the next city election, the Party supported and virtually installed Lionel Wilson as mayor of Oakland, the first black to hold that post in the 100 year history of the city. In the meantime, it further solidified its base by fighting for and obtaining funds to build 300 new, replacement housing units for poor people displaced by a local freeway; by entering into a working partnership with certain developers to build up the dilapidated downtown city center in order to provide 10,000 new jobs for Oakland’s poor and unemployed. At the same time, a permanent primary school was instituted, which was highly lauded by the California legislature, among others. On Huey’s return from exile, then, in 1977, the Black Panther Party was alive and well in Oakland, California, maintaining a strong constituency base in the black and working communities, and prepared to move forward to carry out its primary goal to make Oakland a base for revolution in America.
Soon after Newton’s return to Oakland, in July of 1977, however, a combination of the continued, albeit more subtle and sophisticated, activities of the FBI (despite J. Edgar Hoover’s death in 1972) and internal stress and conflict came to erode the Black Panther Party. By the end of the decade, it had come to a slow and unheralded demise.