50 Years Of Power To The People…The Black Panther Party’s Lumpen Proletariat Blues 1


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The Lumpen – No More

{There won’t be a Melting Pot Radio hour this week, as I shift it to the Sun the 23rd to pay tribute to Matthew Africa (incidentally, this 45 originally came from MKA’s collection), who’s 45th birthday it would have been on that date.}

Today, October 15th, marks the 50th anniversary of the start of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, begun in Oakland, CA by Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton. Probably no other group had a greater influence on my mindset and worldview than the Panthers, since being exposed to them at an early age because my mother taught about the Civil Rights Movement in her US Government classes. This meant I was in the room when she was preparing classes and so I watched a lot of films and documentaries about the this period of time as a child. Though the Panthers were often painted as a “violent” organization, the historical record shows that they were more often the victims of state sanctioned violence, with the aim to discredit and dismantle their operation. Despite having many of their leaders jailed and, particularly in the case of Fred Hampton, murdered, the legacy of the Panthers extends all the way to the present time, particularly in the Black Lives Matter movement, which was sparked over the same issues that sparked the BPP, the killing of Black people by police officers.

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Because of how well versed the Panthers were in liberation theory, they thought it would be a good idea to try to reach the people through music and thus created a singing group to carry their message, The Lumpen (so named for the class of people that Marx described as “a dangerous class,” the Lumpen Proletariat, the underclass of society). While the band performed around the country, they only recorded a single 45 (though, according to Rickey Vincent’s book on the band, their is a live recording of a performance that might have been slated for release, in the Huey P. Newton archives). “Free Bobby Now,” found it’s way onto the Listen Whitey compilation, but the flipside “No More,” is a more interesting track for me. Even though 50 years later, the issues that moved to Panthers to organize and protest are still pressing issues, that same defiance that courses through “No More,” is found in our present era, where even as the Trump campaign has threatened to tear open the fabric of American society, many people are recognizing the need for change and refuse to go back to a period of time where we had no control and no power over our destinies. Here in 2016 we owe a great debt to the Black Panthers, a debt that I hope in my lifetime will be paid in full when all people truly have the freedom and power that so many have fought and died for over our history.


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One thought on “50 Years Of Power To The People…The Black Panther Party’s Lumpen Proletariat Blues

  • Jenny

    Can’t wait for the next hour and I hope you speak more on what’s going on!! Thanks for track and the perspective… Nice to hear about your moms influence on you!