It Takes A Village Unisex T-Shirt
Finally, a way to show your respect for some of the greatest icons, legends and pioneers that paved the way past and present. Rock this gear in style and bring back the moments that made you, memories they gave you and/or lessons they taught you. Scroll down for a history lesson with some of our favorite clips.
Welcome to the Respect Due family the The Black Panther Party! We salute you.
- 4.2 oz., 100% airlume combed and ringspun cotton
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From its beginnings, the Black Panther Party championed black masculinity and traditional gender roles. A notice in the first issue of The Black Panther newspaper proclaimed the all-male organization as “the cream of Black Manhood … there for the protection and defense of our Black community”. Scholars consider the Party’s stance of armed resistance highly masculine, with guns and violence proving manhood. In 1968, several articles urged female Panthers to “stand behind black men” and be supportive. The first woman to join the party was Joan Tarika Lewis, in 1967.
Nevertheless, women were present in the party from the early days and expanded their roles throughout its life. Women often joined to fight against unequal gender norms. By 1969, the Party newspaper officially instructed male Panthers to treat female Party members as equals, a drastic change from the idea of the female Panther as subordinate. The same year, Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton of the Illinois chapter conducted a meeting condemning sexism. After 1969, the Party considered sexism counter-revolutionary.
The Black Panthers adopted a womanist ideology responding to the unique experiences of African-American women, emphasizing racism as more oppressive than sexism. Womanism was a mix of black nationalism and the vindication of women, putting race and community struggle before the gender issue. Womanism posited that traditional feminism failed to include race and class struggle in its denunciation of male sexism and was therefore part of white hegemony. In opposition to some feminist viewpoints, womanism promoted a vision of gender roles: that men are not above women, but hold a different position in the home and community, so men and women must work together for the preservation of African-American culture and community.
Henceforth, the Party newspaper portrayed women as intelligent political revolutionaries, exemplified by members such as Kathleen Cleaver, Angela Davis and Erika Huggins. The Black Panther Party newspaper often showed women as active participants in the armed self-defense movement, picturing them with children and guns as protectors of home, family and community.
Police killed or incarcerated many male leaders, but female Panthers were less targeted for much of the 1960s and 1970s. By 1968, women made up two-thirds of the party, while many male members were out of duty. In the absence of much of the original male leadership, women moved into all parts of the organization. Roles included leadership positions, implementing community programs, and uplifting the black community. Women in the group called attention to sexism within the Party, and worked to make changes from within.
From 1968 to the end of its publication in 1982, the head editors of the Black Panther Party newspaper were all women. In 1970, approximately 40% to 70% of Party members were women, and several chapters, like the Des Moines, Iowa, and New Haven, Connecticut, were headed by women.
During the 1970s, recognizing the limited access poor women had to abortion, the Party officially supported women’s reproductive rights, including abortion. That same year, the Party condemned and opposed prostitution.
Many women Panthers began to demand childcare to be able to fully participate in the organization. The Party responded by establishing on-site child development centers in multiple US chapters. “Childcare became largely a group activity”, with children raised collectively, in accord with the Panther’s commitment to collectivism and the African-American extended-family tradition. Childcare allowed women Panthers to embrace motherhood while fully participating in Party activism.
The Party experienced significant problems in several chapters with sexism and gender oppression, particularly in the Oakland chapter where cases of sexual harassment and gender conflict were common. When Oakland Panthers arrived to bolster the New York City Panther chapter after 21 New York leaders were incarcerated, they displayed such chauvinistic attitudes towards New York Panther women that they had to be fended off at gunpoint. Some Party leaders thought the fight for gender equality was a threat to men and a distraction from the struggle for racial equality.
In response, the Chicago and New York chapters, among others, established equal gender rights as a priority and tried to eradicate sexist attitudes.
By the time the Black Panther Party disbanded, official policy was to reprimand men who violated the rules of gender equality.
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