If you believe a certain faction of right-wingers, Raphael Warnock got re-elected thanks to the “violent” Black Panthers.
That, at least, was a claim made by Kelly Loeffler, a former senator from Georgia who was the first senator to lose a runoff election to Warnock back in 2021.
As can be expected, many of Loeffler’s followers pointed out her hypocrisy, claiming that she didn’t have a problem with the Second Amendment when armed white men threatened potential voters, but seemed to have a problem with armed Black men in the form of the Black Panthers providing a protection service for the poor, sick and elderly.
This all sounds about
white right. After all, who better than a white woman to truck in tired stereotypes about Black men being threatening, violent and aggressive? It’s a racist trope that’s as old as America itself.
And it’s also a fine illustration of how much Americans get wrong about the Black Panthers to this day.
Who are the Black Panthers?
Originally known as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, the Black Panthers — or, more correctly, the Black Panther Party — was founded by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton in Oakland, California, back in 1966. The Party were advocates for class struggle and became known for other social programs and societal advancements, but their biggest contribution to the American zeitgeist was their ongoing fight against police brutality.
Yes, all the way back in 1966, the Panthers were pointing out that police brutality — especially against the Black community — was getting out of control, proving that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Perhaps it’s due to their willingness to call out the cops — or perhaps it’s because their self-proclaimed aim is to promote Black liberation — or perhaps it’s a bit of both. Regardless of the rationale, misconceptions about the Black Panthers still exist today. Here, once and for all, are the top five myths about the Party and what the truth is behind their contributions.