News Release

Real Black Panthers — Not the Disney Movie — Were Actually Targeted by the CIA

Disney recently released the movie “Black Panther” to a great deal of media coverage. It’s the name of an influential radical organization founded in 1966, the Black Panther Party. In the Hollywood production, the CIA is depicted as an ally.

JARED BALL, imixwhatilike at gmail.com, @IMIXWHATILIKE
Ball is professor of communication studies, Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University and author of I MiX What I Like: A MiXtape Manifesto and A Lie of Reinvention: Correcting Manning Marable’s Malcolm X. Malcolm X was assassinated on this date, February 21, in 1965 — see Institute for Public Accuracy news release featuring audio of some of his key statements.

Ball posted on his Facebook page about the term Black Panther: “We have among the most revolutionary international symbols of anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist politics re-presented to us in stunning beauty and style but packaged in the exact neoliberal politics, backed by the same Western-style support and assassination that destroyed the Black Panther Party, assassinated its members, imprisons to this day its survivors or hunts down with international bounties those who had the audacity — not to hope goddammit — but to organize and act accordingly. It isn’t that the film does this or that as much as that what it does is being read by many as having real meaning in this world and that makes critiquing it so important.

“Two quick examples: 1) Please compare the 1960 UN speech delivered by Patrice Lumumba to that of T’challa’s [in the film]. The former condemns the West, its colonialism, theft and abuse of Africa and Africans and declares all that at an end. His European audience was furious and moved to have him assassinated within a year whereas [in the film] the West’s representative — the CIA no less — smiles in full agreement and support having himself participated in the assassination of a true pan-African revolutionary (dismissed and demeaned as an angry lunatic blinded by his own imperial grandeur …)

“2) Please note how the film ends with the antidote developed precisely to crush a Black Panther revolution: a wealthy benefactor imposing ‘help’ in the form of neoliberal non-profit ‘reform.’ This is in lock-step with the state’s response to the BPP [Black Panther Party] and its programs and political education.”

See “CIA Reportedly Recruited Blacks For Surveillance of Panther Party” by Seymour Hersh in the New York Times in 1978, which states: “CIA officials have said repeatedly that the goal of the agency’s domestic spying program was to determine whether antiwar activists and black extremists were being financed and directed by Communist governments. Agency officials have declined to discuss the programs further.

“One longtime CIA operative with direct knowledge of the spying said, however, that there was an additional goal in the case of the Black Panthers living abroad: to ‘neutralize’ them; ‘to try and get them in trouble with local authorities wherever they could.’ Just how successful the CIA was in those alleged activities could not be determined.”

See piece in The Nation by Jeff Cohen and Jeff Gottlieb: “Was Fred Hampton Executed?” about the Illinois chairperson of the Black Panther Party, which states: “That the FBI supervised a nationwide effort to destroy the Black Panther Party is no longer seen as the paranoid rantings of leftists, but as a fact documented by the Staff Report of the Church committee. The report stated that the FBI’s COINTELPRO (Counter-Intelligence program) used ‘dangerous, degrading or blatantly unconstitutional techniques’ to disrupt Left and black organizations. It went on to liken the FBI’s harassment of Martin Luther King to the treatment usually afforded a Soviet agent.”