An Atlanta-based group has set up a mutual aid program and is raising money to support veterans of the Black Panther Party. Members of the Community Movement Builders announced they have raised nearly $5,000 over the past two months and provided monetary support in December to 10 Black Panther Party veterans.
Jalil Muntaqim, a Black Panther Party veteran was released from prison in 2020 after spending more than 40 years behind bars. A beneficiary of the fund, Muntaqim said that this is the first-ever such general fund set up to support Black Panther Party veterans.
“You can’t raise money on our backs and not support the veterans of your movement. Our people put our lives on the line, and the mutual aid is needed,” Muntaqim told NewsOne.
The Black Panther Party was founded in Oakland, Calif., in 1966 by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. The party’s original purpose was to patrol African American neighborhoods and protect residents against acts of police brutality. They also protested, dressed in all-black and carried weapons. The Panthers struck an imposing figure.
The Panthers were labeled a Marxist revolutionary group, which brought them under the radar of the government and the FBI. The Panthers launched more than 35 survival programs and provided community help, such as education, legal aid, transportation assistance, ambulance service, and free shoes to poor people, along with the famed Free Breakfast for Children Program. The Panther Party grew to 48 chapters in 48 states with support groups in Japan, China, France, England, Germany, Sweden, Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Uruguay, and elsewhere. The group ultimately fell apart due to in-fighting, the deaths of several leaders, but mainly due to government infiltration.
Funding for the Mutual Aid for Veteran Black Panther Party Members is maintained through Patreon, with 363 patrons donating a total of $2,795 per month as of the writing of this article. More than 20 veteran Black Panther Party members have received monetary support so far, NewsOne reported. Patreon is a membership platform that provides business tools for content creators to run a subscription service.
Black Panther Party veterans currently supported by the fund include Dhoruba Bin Wahad, Ashanti Alston, Bilal Sunni Ali, Jalil Muntaqim, Sekou Odinga, Arthur League, “Njinga” Patricia Jenkins, Yasmeen Majid, Naima Gentry Major, Russel “Maroon” Shoats, Malik Rahim, and William Brown.
According to the fund’s mission statement, “The Panthers are more popular now than at any point in their history. Yet many of the individuals who formed the Black Panther Party are now struggling to take care of their most basic needs. From medical care to rent to buying groceries and just enjoying everyday life pleasures, it is a struggle for all but a prominent few.”
Kamau Franklin, a movement attorney and co-founder of Community Movement Builders, said in a statement, “As others hold up the image and style of the Black Panther Party and benefit financially, many of the Panthers who defended our right to food, clothes and shelter are now unable to provide that for themselves.”
The group has a goal of raising $5,000 a month in 2022.
“Since May, we have raised over 15k to support these Veteran Black Panthers strictly through grassroots methods,” Franklin told NewsOne. “I think it’s important for us to support the Panthers because many of us got involved in this work because of how inspirational they were.”
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The New Black Panther Party was founded in Dallas, Texas, in 1989, but is not an official successor to the original Black Panther Party.
Photo: Bobby Seale, chairman of the Black Panther Party, addresses a rally outside the party headquarters Aug. 13, 1971, in Oakland, Calif., urging members to boycott certain liquor stores. (AP Photo)