Huey Newton stood in front of the cameras and mics and drew a breath. No one ever considered him much of a public speaker – but here he was today, about to preach the good word of revolution. And what he said had whites terrified.
The Black Panthers' rise to global attention had a lot to do with white fear. White people saw an organized, Black militia group, armed and ready. It terrified them because they knew Black rage was justified!
But Newton knew it wasn’t really about guns. It was about Black freedom. It was about Black protection. It was about Black people having the dignity to fight back. It was about Black people finally seeing how dire their situation was.
As Newton spoke to America through the camera lens, he knew that the white people didn’t really care what he had to say. But he wasn’t doing it for them.
He was thinking of all the Black people who would watch him on TV, giving language and hope to their suffering. The Panthers’ innovative approach used their sensational militia look to get them media power – which they could then use to spread their revolutionary message.
Their genius creativity is just what we need to emulate as we continue their fight for liberation.