Throwback Thursday: Black Panther Party Harlem Branch
A Black beret, Black leather pants, a Black shirt, a black leather trench coat, and possibly some shades -was a uniform seen throughout Harlem during the 1960s. You would’ve seen this fly all-black-everything outfit in front of 2026 Adam Clayton Jr. Boulevard, the former home of the Black Panther Party Harlem Branch. It only seems right that in the Black epic center of America, Harlem, there was a Black Panther Branch, the most important branch that ran the entire New York State. Today the place that was Black Panther Party Harlem Branch is now a Bodega. One of the few Black political movements to incorporate style with the fight for civil rights, the Harlem branch not only had people that looked good, but they did good things throughout the community and had a dope organizational structure. Continue reading to see photos, learn the branch’s structure of governing and the details of the Harlem branch’s demise.
What is the Black Panther Party (BPP)?
During the 1960s, cities were LIT on fire, nuclear energy was blowing up Vietnam and inequality and civil rights caused long picket lines. Out of all this rage and in some case flames, came a revolution that inspired the creation of the BPP in Oakland, California in 1966. The party was run by young people, like 20 something-year-olds. Yep, they were young, fly and woke. These young people created programs to empower and put an end to things like police brutality. Sadly, these issues the Party tried to address still remain today. The BPP created the 10-point plan as a way to demand change and layout their goals. (See plan below)
The Black Panther Party Harlem Branch
Prior to being a Bodega, the Branch stood tall as a place full of Black brothers and sisters trying to make a positive change in the community. The Harlem Black Panther Party Branch was the shit. It is believed to be one of the first branches to form in the entire Party and while there were other offices in New York in places like the Bronx, Mount Vernon and even that place called Staten Island- the Harlem Branch was considered Don of entire New York State. They did cool/empowering programs in the community like the breakfast program that ensured young kids got breakfast before they went to school. The entire Party created this nationwide program based on scientific research that showed students who have breakfast in the morning perform better in school.
The downfall of the Black Panther Party
The NYC Harlem branch was one of the strongest chapters, but as a part of the FBI tactics to break apart the party, the Harlem branch had a huge scandal that caused the BBP to disown them. According to the “trusted” FBI, 21 members of the Harlem branch were planning to bomb several large New York City department stores. This group was labeled the Panther 21. They were arrested and trialed – and 2 were gangsta enough to escape to Algeria. Once this scandal happen the rest of the party disowned the Harlem Branch and the rest is a mysterious history.
If you have a chance go to 2026 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd and take a look at the Bodega that stands where young brothers and sisters worked to change the community for the better. All Power to the People!
Some dope Black Panther Party stuff you might like:
- PANDORA MIXTAPE-The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution
- Watch the trailer for The Black Panther Documentary: The Black Panthers: Vanguard of a Revolution