Co-founder of the Black Panther Party Huey P. Newton, has quite the legacy, inspiring many for generations. In fact, he was partially the inspiration for a Black Panther promotional poster. The Marvel Studios film takes its name from (and has a rich history attached to) the Black Panther Party.
Newton even was featured in a Marvel comic along with fellow Black Panther Bobby Seale and the character T’Challa (famously played by the late Chadwick Boseman).
Much like his comic counterpart, the real Huey P. Newton fought for what he believed in no matter the cost.
Born in 1942 in Monroe, Louisiana, Newton’s parents moved to Oakland, California, when he was still a child.
Later in life, he graduated high school being unable to read. However, Newton was determined and eventually taught himself. Newton became an accomplished academic, earning both a Bachelor’s and Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz after briefly attending Merritt College.
During his time at Merritt, Newton met Bobby Seale, confounder of the Black Panther Party, which, according to Britannica, was initially referred to as the Black Panther Party for Self Defense.
Formed in 1966, the Black Panther Party was created in response to police brutality, racism, etc. The Party took some of its inspiration from the views of Malcolm X, who urged other Black people to protect themselves “‘by any means necessary.'”
According to the National Archives, “the Party believed that in the Black struggle for justice, violence (or the potential of violence) may be necessary.”
The Black Panther Party was quite successful under Newton and gained international support. When he visited China in 1970, Newton received a welcome from a large crowd. However, Newton also spent some time in jail and was arrested several times.
In the late 1960s, Newton was arrested for killing a police officer in Oakland, California, during a traffic stop and was sentenced to two to fifteen years in prison.
Due to public outcry, Newton was freed in 1970. He was later charged again for the murder of a teenage sex worker and for assaulting a tailor, leading him to flee to Cuba in 1974 and return to the United States in 1977. However, the case was eventually dismissed.
Additionally, Newton was sentenced to six months worth of jail time in 1989 for mishandling funds meant to go towards a Black Panther Party-founded school located in Oakland (however, the Party disbanded seven years prior). Unfortunately, during that same year, Newton was killed during a drug dispute.
Overall, the legacy of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton is undeniable. Both Newton and the Party itself showcase the importance of fighting for the causes you believe in.