Active from 1966 to 1982, the Black Panther Party was a revolutionary Marxist-Leninist Black liberation organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton in Oakland, California. While one of its early core practices was deploying armed citizens’ patrols to monitor the city’s police department and challenge instances of brutality, it soon expanded its scope (and opened chapters in many major U.S. cities) to address a variety of class struggles and community needs.
From 1969 on, the BPP launched several social programs aimed at educating and organizing the disenfranchised. This included expanding voter registation, addressing food injustice with their Free Breakfast for School Children programs, and opening community health clinics to test people for sickle cell anemia, TB and, later, HIV and AIDS across the nation.
While the Party was formally dissolved four decades ago, its basic tenets of Black liberation, anti-capitalism, and community care have never felt more relevant. In a 1968 book list shared by the University of Puget Sound’s Collins Library (and originally posted by It’s About Time, a now-dormant site dedicated to the BPP’s legacy and alumni), the Party recommended various tomes on the history of slavery, colonialism, and African struggles for political freedom – books that provide a context to the deep-seated racial justice issues that continue to rage on today.
From Frantz Fanon to W.E.B. Du Bois, delve into the Black Panther Party’s recommended reading list below. Complement with the radical book recommendations of Angela Davis, Colin Kaepernick, Howard Zinn, Malcolm X and Rage Against the Machine.
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X and Alex Haley (also rec’d by Angie Thomas, Colin Kaepernick, Gabrielle Union, Howard Zinn, Ibram X. Kendi, Janelle Monáe, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Rose McGowan, Tupac Shakur, Uzo Aduba & Questlove)
I Speak of Freedom by Kwame Nkrumah
The Lost Cities of Africa by Basil Davidson
The Nat Turner Slave Revolt by Herbert Aptheker
A Documentary History of the Negro People of the United States by Herbert Aptheker (also rec’d by Howard Zinn)
Before the Mayflower by Lerone Bennett Jr.
American Negro Poetry by Arna W. Bontemps
Story of the Negro by Arna W. Bontemps
Black Moses: The Story of Garvey and the UNIA by E.D. Cronin
Black Reconstruction in America by W.E.B. Du Bois
The World and Africa by W.E.B. Du Bois
Black Mother: The Years of the African Slave Trade by Basil Davidson
Studies in a Dying Colonialism by Frantz Fanon
Black Bourgeoisie by E.F. Frazier
The Other America by Michael Harrington
Garvey & Garveyism by Marcus Garvey
Philosophy And Opinions Of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
The Myth of the Negro Past by Melville J. Herskovits
A History of Negro Revolt by C.L.R. James
MUNTU: The New African Culture by Janheinz Jahn
Blues People by LeRoi Jones
Black Muslims in America by C.E. Lincoln
The Colonizer and the Colonized by Albert Memmi
Ghana by Kwame Nkrumah
We Charge Genocide by William L. Patterson
The Negro in Our History by Charles H. Wesley & Carter G. Woodson
The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward
(via The Collins Library)