The Revolution Has Come: Black Power, Gender, and the Black Panther Party in Oakland
Inside Political Repression, 1969–1971
This chapter analyzes how state political repression shaped the decisions the BPP made and the possibilities it sought as it evolved as an organization. It argues that the party’s responses to repression would shape its development and impact its strategies, tactics, and goals. The purges, centralization, and alliances the Panthers pursued as survival strategies weakened their organizational structure and would have a long-term impact on relationships between members and on the climate within the organization. Unresolved organizational tensions coupled with political repression led to a major transformation of the BPP in the early 1970s. Sexism, homophobia, machoism, financial hierarchies, the centralization of leadership, and the future ideological direction of the BPP moved from the margins to center stage in this period. The FBI sought to target Newton and Cleaver in a wide-ranging campaign that led to an organizational crisis: the mass expulsion and exodus of members in 1971.