Huey P. Newton

Collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

About Huey P. Newton

  • Biography
  • Quotes

Huey Percy Newton was born in Monroe, LA and later moved with his parents to Oakland, CA. Newton graduated from high school without having acquired literacy, but he later taught himself to read. He attended a variety of schools including Merritt College before eventually earning a Bachelor’s degree and a Ph.D. from the University of California at Santa Cruz. During his tenure at Merritt College, Newton joined the Afro-American Association and helped get the first African American History course adopted into the college’s curriculum. In October 1966, Newton and Bobby Seale co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self Defense (BPP) and crafted the Party's ten-point manifesto. They decided that Seale would be the Chairman and Newton would be the Minister of Defense. Many of the Party’s principles were inspired by Malcolm X and his views.

The Black Panther Party, under the leadership of Newton, gained international support. This was most demonstrated when Newton was invited to visit China in 1970. He was welcomed enthusiastically by large crowds holding up copies of Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung as well as signs supporting the BPP and criticizing U.S. imperialism. After returning to the United States, Newton wanted the party to focus on serving African American communities while Cleaver thought the focus should be on building relationships with international revolutionary movements.

In 1989, Newton was fatally shot in West Oakland by a member of the Black Guerilla Family. Relations between the Black Panther Party and the Black Guerilla Family had been strained for nearly twenty years prior to this incident. Newton’s last words were, “You can kill my body, and you can take my life but you can never kill my soul. My soul will live forever!”

"The revolution has always been in the hands of the young. The young always inherit the revolution."

"Black Power is giving power to people who have not had power to determine their destiny."

"There will be no prison which can hold our movement down."

"I think what motivates people is not great hate, but great love for other people."

"I have the people behind me and the people are my strength."

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