Yesterday marked their 50th anniversary which prompted me to revisit their history in relation to where we stand today.
The Black Panthers' historic action of going to the California State Capitol in 1967 with guns in hand, aiming to fight abuse by the Oakland Police, started what some consider a racist, anti-gun reaction by California Republicans.
At the time, California was an open carry state, and the vision of lawful African Americans having firearms in public was untenable for many politicians. The Black Panthers were all for gun rights. Ronald Reagan and his fellow Republicans enacted the Mulford Act which repealed open carry of loaded firearms (Note: open carry of unloaded firearms was legal until 2012).
The Atlantic has an informative article on the Black Panthers and gun rights, and this particular quote stood out to me:
"...the only tangible outcome of the civil-rights movement had been more violence and oppression, much of it committed by the very entity meant to protect and serve the public: the police."
Is the video is mightier than the gun? Perhaps. We have clearly seen how viral videos continue to bring the #BLM movement to the forefront of our national conversation. Ultimately a movement is judged on the impact is has on society.
This story is far from over.