The Black Panthers in London, 1967-72: A Diasporic Struggle Navigates the Black Atlantic
copyright: Anne-Marie Angelo 2009
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A group of West African and West Indian immigrants in London identified themselves as the British Black Power Movement from September 1967 to April 1968 and as the British Black Panther Movement from 1968 to 1972. As the first Black Panther Movement to form independently outside the U.S., the British Panthers took aspects of their symbols, chants, and demands from the U.S. Panthers. The UK Panthers appropriated the U.S.Panthers’ revolutionary aesthetic as a model for protest, for necessary violence, and for engaging with the state. Using cultural history methodologies of both U.S. and British history, this article serves as the first indepth study of the Black Panthers in the U.K. and contributes to a nascent field of transnational studies of the Black Panther Party. In this article, I analyze the nature of the confrontations between Panthers and London City Police in court files from the yea 1970-72 and a collection of Panther political essays.
The article demonstrates how the U.K. Panthers adapted American Black Power in order to suit a transnational, yet also local struggle. The US Panthers provided an appropriable ideology through visible cultural markers that melded with the legacy of West Indian radicalism to create a fluid, albeit short-lived, U.K. Black Panther Movement. The well traveled “routes” of the Black Atlantic allowed the British context to be the first site where an international Panther group emerged.