Huey Percy Newton was a political and urban activist who, along with Bobby Seale, co-founded the Black Panther Party in 1966 in Oakland, CA. Newton and his compatriots were known for their strong leftist politics, all-black garb and sound intellectual debate. Beyond the activism and fight for equality for African-Americans, the Panthers also started “survival programs” designed to assist the less fortunate such as meal programs, self-defense classes, medical clinics and first aid. The original Black Panthers would largely dissolve the organization in 1982.
Relations between Newton and factions within the Black Guerilla Family (BGF) had been strained for nearly two decades. Former Black Panther members who became BGF members in prison had become disenchanted with Newton for his perceived abandonment of imprisoned Black Panther members and allegations of Newton’s fratricide within the party.
On August 22, 1989, Newton was fatally shot in West Oakland by 24-year-old BGF member and drug dealer Tyrone Robinson shortly after Newton left a crack house. Robinson was convicted of the murder in 1991 and sentenced to 32 years in prison for the crime.
Robinson said that Newton pulled a gun when the two met at a street corner in the neighborhood, but the police found no evidence that Newton was armed. The murder occurred in a neighborhood where Newton, as minister of defense for the Black Panthers, once organized social programs that helped destitute African Americans, such as feeding poor, young children in the community before they headed off to school.
Newton’s last words, as he stood facing his killer, were, “You can kill my body, and you can take my life but you can never kill my soul. My soul will live forever!” He was then shot two times in the face by Robinson. Huey was 47.
Newton’s death was especially jarring, because his death on a drug-ridden street corner in Oakland occurred just nine years after the vaunted Black leader would earn a Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz. While critics — particularly those on the Right who opposed the left-wing Panthers — lambasted Newton for falling in to the trap of drugs and crime, he did introduce Oakland youth to the notion that being African American was a thing of a value.
history meme - [3/5 assassinations] - Huey P. Newton