Interview with Elaine Brown

What were some of the influences that Huey Newton borrowed from or learned from in putting together that, the program, and also in how to develop the style for the Black Panther party?


Well, the style, and as I've mentioned to you before, I think that it's important not to be too focused on style. Um, ah, although that had an impact on how people thought about the party, ah, but it wasn't the party. The, the question of wearing the beret, I mean, that clearly came from Che Guevara. Um, the question of the Black Panther symbol, it came from the Lowndes County, Alabama freedom organization, um, which was a voter rights organization. Ah, the, the, the initial militance, if you will, which is not to be confused with what we considered to be revolutionary activity, which we borrowed from all revolutionary, socialist revolutionary organizations throughout the world, came from the, from the Deacons for Defense, ah, who were, ah, a group of Black men in the South, who said, we're not going to be non-violent, and if you come in our neighborhoods we're going to take care of you. And basically did accomplish something, in the sense of people respected them, and the Whites who were hanging people and stuff did not go into territories where the Deacons for Defense operated. So all of that, ah, combined--and the ten point program and platform, um, we virtually borrowed from the Nation of Islam, which always printed it on the back of their newspaper. Um, except that there was a final point where we differed, which was the complete and, uh overthrow of capitalism, which was a part of our program and not a part of theirs. But yes, we borrowed, ah, Huey, um, who was the, the, ah, spirit of the party, and who was the guiding force in the party, um, used some of those symbols for the party, but the party, of course, evolved to become its own, ah, its own entity.