Huey Newton created possibly the most defining historical movement ever seen in the Black community.
Newton was the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, along with Bobby Seale. Their organization spearheaded a number of community support programs such as medical clinics, clothing banks, and food banks.
Huey Newton was born on February 17th, 1942 in Monroe, Louisiana.
After moving to Oakland, California as a youth, Huey Newton was arrested numerous times for criminal offenses. He faced a number of obstacles in his life and specifically learned the importance of having to question everything during these tough times.
After learning to read by deciphering Plato’s Republic (a major influential work during his early years) Newton soon became a force to be reckoned with.
After attending Merritt College in 1966 and studying at San Francisco Law School and the University of California at Santa Cruz, he co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (BPP), a left-wing organization advocating the right to self-defense for Black people in the US.
Hugely influenced by Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and Malcolm X’s teachings, the party achieved international recognition through their involvement in the Black Power movements throughout the 1960s and 70s.
Newton was at the center of a number of controversies, including the fatal shooting of Oakland Police Department officer John Frey in 1967. A court dismissed the charges in 1970, and Newton was released on August 5th, 1970.
From here, he worked hard to develop the tenets of the Black Panther Party as a way to support the American people and go against imperialist systems, such as the Nixon administration of the time.
After a trip to Asia, the Black Panther Party started incorporating North Korean ideology Juche thought into its teachings, such as the idea of man being the master of his destiny and masses working towards self-reliance towards socialism.
During the 1970s, Newton experienced a number of allegations of assault which partly forced him to flee with his wife Gwen Fontaine to Havana, Cuba.
Upon returning in 1977, he stood trial for the murder of Kathleen Smith and assault on his tailor Preston Callins, who he was accused of calling Newton “baby.”
Newton was later acquitted of the assault and the trial for Smith’s murder was not retried after two trials.
By the end of the 1970s, the Black Panthers were not considered the same political force they once were. It was during this time he earned a Ph.D. in the Social philosophy program of History of Consciousness from the University of California at Santa Cruz, graduating in 1980.
On August 22nd, 1989 Huey Newton was murdered in West Oakland California by Tyrone Robinson, who stated that his motive was to advance in a prison gang he was a member of.
His funeral was attended by 1,300 where his towering achievements were celebrated.
His influence has been seen in so many areas of popular culture. Huey Newton has been name-checked by Public Enemy, Tupac, and Kendrick Lamar. He is considered one of the defining figures in the Black History movement, and his presence can be felt everywhere today.