I was raised in the bay area. I saw Huey Newton
on two occasions . I was dining with a friend at “Carlos Murphy”
restaurant when Newton strolled in with a woman. He was dressed in a tailored
gray suit and I was surprised at how short he was.
The second time I saw him,
I was walking to my car on Shattuck Ave., near UC Berkeley, a familiar looking
man came stumbling towards me, I could smell the liquor on his breath and his
eyes were bloodshot. After he walked by, I realized, that was Huey Newton.
Huey Newton was born February
17, 1942 in Monroe Louisiana. In 1945, the Newton family moved to Oakland
to take advantage of job opportunities.
According to Newton, he did
not learn to read until he finished high school. Newton claimed he studied
law to become a better burglar. Early on, he supported himself by burglarizing
At 22, he was arrested and
sentenced to six months in jail. Newton read the works of Malcolm X, Chairman
Mao Tse-tung and Che Guevara while incarcerated.
A cop commented, after having
a discussion with Newton behind bars, he came to the conclusion; he was one
of the most articulate men he had ever conversed with.
When Newton was released,
he and friend Bobby Seale decided to form the “Black Panther” party
in 1966, their logic; the police must be stopped from harassing Oakland’s
The Panthers began patrolling
the police and observing police procedure. Many members were told to bear
arms since Newton was familiar with the California penal code and the law regarding
Member attire consisted of
a black leather jacket and pants and a black beret. At their peak, the
Panthers had hundreds of members throughout the bay area and other branches
were opening in other cities.
The party also organized free
pancake breakfast’s, sickle cell anemia fund-raisers, free food and shoes.
Some informants have claimed,
funding for several of the programs were allegedly raised as a result of drug
dealers and prostitution rings.
In 1968, Newton unsuccessfully
ran for Congress as a candidate of the Peace and Freedom Party.
During the 1970’s, Newton
occupied a $1,500 dollar a week penthouse near Lake Merritt and drove exotic
sports cars. An unheard feat for an Black man in the 70’s.
In 1971, Newton visited China
for ten days, where he met with Premier Chou En-lai and Chiang Ch’ing.
While there, he was offered political asylum. He declined the offer.
It soon became evident that
Huey Newton had power behind him.
Example #1: In 1967, Newton
was accused of murdering a white police officer and was sentenced to 30 years
in prison. In 1970, the conviction was overturned. Keep in mind,
the racial climate was much different than it is now, how many black men had
their convictions overturned for allegedly murdering a white cop in the turbulent
Example #2: In 1974, several
assault charges were filed against Newton and he was accused of murdering a
17-year old prostitute by strangling her to death. Newton jumped bail
and escaped to Cuba. When he returned to face murder charges, again, he
was let go. He was acquitted of the murder after two juries were deadlocked.
Also, Newton exchanged harsh
words with an very prominent white educator, surprisingly, since the educator
didn’t get along with Newton, he was released from his teaching post at
a local university.
When the “Black Panther
Party” first started, many people complimented them on their fundraiser's
to aid the black community but rumors began circulating, was Huey Newton ripping
off his people in the name of racism to live high off the hog? Was Huey Newton
Even more damaging, unconfirmed
rumors began to circulate that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover kept Newton in line,
because he allegedly had a sex tape in his possession featuring Newton with
a blonde actress.
The government was instrumental
in destroying the “Black Panther Party” but Newton continued to
reside in the bay area.
A friend attended a party
hosted by Huey Newton’s girlfriend, Newton was in attendance, she said;
his behavior was so bizarre and strange, she became uncomfortable and left.
In 1978, Newton studied for
a Ph.D. in the history of social consciousness at the University of California.
A male hairdresser claiming
to be the son of Huey Newton, committed suicide after a scandal erupted regarding
his personal life.
In 1989, Newton was convicted
of embezzling funds from a school run by the Black Panthers; allegedly to support
his drug and alcohol addictions.
On August 22, 1989, Huey Newton
was killed by a drug dealer; some officers said it was a gang initiation and
the shooter picked Newton at random, not knowing who he was.
Sources: “Huey P. Newton’s
Revolutionary Suicide” and “To Die For The People: The Writings
Of Huey P. Newton.”