A group of West African and West Indian immigrants in London identified themselves as the British Black Power Movement from September 1967 to April 1968 and as the British Black Panther Movement from 1968 to 1972. As the first Black Panther Movement to form independently outside the United States, the British Panthers took aspects of their symbols, chants, and demands from the U.S. Panthers. The U.K. Panthers appropriated the U.S. Panthers' revolutionary aesthetic as a model for protest, necessary violence, and for engaging with the state. Using cultural history methodologies of both U.S. and British history, this article serves as the first in-depth study of the Black Panthers in the United Kingdom and contributes to a nascent field of transnational studies of the Black Panther Party. In this article, the nature of the confrontations between Panthers and London City police in court files from the years 1970-72 and a collection of Panther political essays are analyzed. The article demonstrates how the U.K. Panthers adapted American Black Power to suit a transnational yet also local struggle. The U.S. Panthers provided an appropriable ideology through visible cultural markers that melded with the legacy of West Indian radicalism to create a fluid, albeit short-lived, U.K. Black Panther Movement. The well-traveled “routes” of the black Atlantic allowed the British context to be the first site at which an international Panther group emerged.
Research Article|January 01 2009