How the Black Power Movement Was Coopted by the System

Says anarchist/black nationalist and former Panther Lorenzo Kom’boa Ervin.

I wish, in their justifications of using electoral politics, both white radicals and black nationalists would stop bringing up the 1972 political campaigns of Black Panther leaders Elaine Brown and Bobby Seale in Oakland, CA. They claim it “won influence” for the BPP at city hall and in the Black community, ignoring years of revolutionary grassroots organizing after the founding of the party in 1966, others say that it “strengthened” the party and increased its organizational base. Well, here is what did happen, according to my wife’s 2011 book Driven By The Movement: Activists of the Black Power Era”, and my own memories and that of a few other original Panthers. So many Panthers were pulled from other cities to come to Oakland to work on these campaigns that it weakened the party nationally, and only one year later, would result in the “contraction” or closing down of BPP chapters all over the country, and this later led to the utter collapse of the party in a few more years, after a process of a slow death. The path of reformism led directly to the political graveyard, and the triumph of Black Democratic liberal leftism, and accomplishment of a key goal of COINTELPRO to replace militant leaders and movements with reformists. So if activists in this period want to justify their own sellouts to reformism, electorialism, and political opportunism, they should choose another fable. The actual history tells a totally different story.

Categories: Strategy

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