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This chapter explores the BPP’s growth from a local to national movement and the changing role of armed self-defense in the party. It analyzes the relationships between the local branches and the national office, especially in the Bay Area, and the Panthers’ embrace of third-party politics. In response to repression and to meet the needs of local communities, the Panthers created community service programs. These programs thrust them into the hearts of poor black communities and provided key ways for ordinary people to support their political work.

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