by Billy X Jennings
The Black Panther Party newspaper was founded by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale in 1967. The BPP newspaper was created to inform, educate and organize the people and promote the 10-Point Program and Platform.
The BPP newspaper grew from a four-page newsletter to a full newspaper in about a year and about 500 issues were printed. The first cover featured the case of Denzil Dowell, a brother murdered by the Richmond police. The BPP was called in by his family to investigate what happened to him. You can read the story in Bobby Seale’s book, “Seize the Time.”
Bobby Seale, Elbert “Big Man” Howard and Eldridge Cleaver were the early editors.
After Huey Newton was shot and jailed in October 1967, the BPP newspaper grew along with the Black Panther Party. The paper was being sold not only in the Bay Area but around the world. It came out every Wednesday and was printed in San Francisco by Howard Quinn Printers.
The BPP newspaper became the No. 1 Black weekly newspaper in the country from 1968-1971, selling over 300,000 copies each week. It contained both national and international news. The paper sold for 25 cents. In the beginning, each person selling the newspaper got a dime from each copy.
Every Panther had to read and study the newspaper before selling it. Big cities like LA, Chicago, NY, Seattle and Kansas City were distribution centers for the BPP newspapers in their regions.
Sam Napier, Andrew Austin and Ellis White from National Distribution in San Francisco were the heart and soul of the newspaper. They worked endless hours making sure the paper reached its destinations and were always looking for new locations to “get the paper out.”
Wednesday night was when the paper came out. Every Panther in the Bay Area came to help “get the paper out.” When the paper came off the press, it went to the SF office and we packed it up in boxes by region and BPP offices. We had 48 offices in 30 major cities. Students from SF State Black Student Union, UC Berkeley, SF City College, Merritt and Laney BSUs and a lot of high school students showed up to work those nights.
This photo essay was provided by It’s About Time Archives. We have an extensive collection of BPP memorabilia and our mission is to preserve and promote the legacy of the Black Panther Party. For more information, visit www.itsabouttimebpp.com or, on Facebook, go to itsabouttime/BPP or Bill Jennings.
All photos are from It’s About Time Archive/BPP Alumni. They were taken by Ducho Dennis, Stephen Shames and Jeffery Blankfort.