They patrol the streets, secure public areas, provide political and education classes. However, the New Black Panther Party — not affiliated with the Black Panther Party formed by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale — share the Panther name with the original group but there are very distinct differences between the two.
The former just celebrated its 45th anniversary in West Philadelphia’s Hilton Hotel.
“We are the vanguard of our people,” said King Samir Shabazz, international field marshall and chairman of the group’s Philadelphia chapter. “We are surrounded and supported by many other organizations right here in this city and the New Black Panther Party has done tremendous work trying to raise the consciousness of our people.”
In west and southwest Philadelphia, the group’s members have frequented Malcolm X Park located at 52nd Pine Street and still work in security and paramilitary functions associated with the original Black Panther Party in its heyday.
“We stood against the Philadelphia police and their wicked treatment of our youth and our elders. We stood up against the most vicious [expletive deleted] racists in Philadelphia to stand up for our people,” explained Shabazz who went on to enumerate a substantial list of local government agencies and departments for which the New Black Panther Party has struggled against as part of their community empowerment of Black people.
Asked how they are distinguished from the original Black Panther Party, Shabazz notes a change in ideology.
“We are called the ‘New Black Panther Party’ not just because we are the youth raised in this generation today, but it’s a new movement, a new ideology of liberation and revolution,” Shabazz said. “It’s a new time, a new dynamic and era that we’re living in.”
Shabazz disputes the notion that they are a group of Black racists.
“There is so much more to us loving our people because we believe in the teaching of Marcus Garvey and his ideology of race first, Black nationalism, pan-Africanism, these are the political ideology of the New Black Panther Party,” he said.
Shabazz believes that the only difference between the former Black Panther Party and the current New Black Panther Party is the fact that the latter “is more African centered.”
Despite political and social advancements of Black people, the New Black Panther Party believes that there is still a need to fight for empowerment.
“There has to be some force that will not compromise, bow or bend to the white man to stand up for the liberation, consciousness, growth and development of Black people as a whole,” explained Jerry Jackson, who goes by the name Heru Khupi and serves as the group’s chief of staff for the Philadelphia chapter.
During the interview, Jackson explained that the party was founded in 1989 in Dallas, Texas by a former radio host named Aaron Michaels who, at that time, was engaged in research on Black revolutionary organizations.
“He felt the need to raise the Black Panther Party again because the racism in Dallas was phenomenal,” Jackson said.
The Philadelphia Chapter of the New Black Panther meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at 2836 Girard Ave.