Huey Newton: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Huey Percy Newton
Born February 17, 1942(1942-02-17)
Monroe, Louisiana, USA
Died August 22, 1989 (aged 47)
Oakland, California, USA
Education UC Santa Cruz, Ph.D. (1980)
Occupation Activist
Political party Black Panther Party
Spouse(s) Gwen Fontaine (1974–1983)
Fredrika Newton (1984–1989)

Huey Percy Newton (February 17, 1942 – August 22, 1989), was co-founder and leader of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, an African-American organization established to promote Black Power, civil rights and self-defense.



Huey Newton was born in Monroe, Louisiana to Armelia and Walter Newton, a sharecropper and Baptist minister respectively. Huey was the youngest child in his family, and was named after Huey Long. Newton's family moved to California when he was three. Despite completing his secondary education at Oakland Technical High School, Newton did not know how to read. During his course of self-study, he struggled to read Plato's Republic, which he understood after persistently reading it through five times. It was this success, he told an interviewer, that was the spark that caused him to become a leader.[1] Newton once claimed he studied law to become a better burglar. As a teenager, he was arrested several times for minor offences and supported himself in college by burglarizing homes in the Oakland and Berkeley Hills areas and committing other petty crime. By age 14, he had been arrested for gun possession and vandalism.[2]

Founding of the Black Panthers

While at Merritt College, Newton had become actively involved in politics in the Bay Area. He joined the Afro-American Association, became a prominent member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Beta Tau chapter, and played a role in getting the first black history course adopted as part of the college's curriculum. He read the works of Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, Frantz Fanon, Malcolm X, Mao Zedong, and Che Guevara. It was during his time at Merritt College[3] that Newton, along with Bobby Seale, organized the Black Panther Party for Self Defense in October 1966. After a coin toss Seale assumed the role of Chairman, while Newton became Minister of Defense.[4]

Accusation of murder

Newton was accused of murdering Oakland police officer John Frey.

Frey had stopped Newton before dawn on October 28, 1967, and attempted to disarm and discourage the Panther patrols. After fellow officer Herbert Heanes arrived for backup, shots were fired, and all three were wounded. Heanes testified that the shooting began after Newton was under arrest, and a surprise witness testified that Newton shot Frey with Frey's own gun as they wrestled.[5][6] No gun for Frey or Newton was found.[6] Newton himself claimed that Frey shot him first, which made him subsequently pass out for the rest of the incident; Newton also claimed that it appeared (from the courtroom testimony of the surviving officer) that the two police officers either shot each other, or there was a third shooter (most likely the former).[7] Frey was hit four times and died within the hour, while Heanes was left in a serious condition with three bullet wounds. With a bullet wound to the abdomen, Newton staggered into the city's Kaiser Hospital. He was admitted but was later shocked to find himself chained to his bed.[8] Newton also recalls in his book vague images of being operated on in the hospital while police were interrogating him.

Charged with murdering Frey, Newton was convicted in September 1968 of voluntary manslaughter and was sentenced to 2–15 years in prison. In May 1970, the California Appellate Court reversed the conviction and ordered a new trial. After two subsequent mistrials, the State of California dropped the case.[8]

In January 1977, Peoples Temple leader Jim Jones visited Newton in Cuba.[9] After Jones fled to Jonestown, Guyana, Newton spoke to Temple members in Jonestown via phone patch supporting Jones during one of the Temple's earliest "White Nights."[10] Newton's cousin, Stanley Clayton, was one of the few residents of Jonestown to escape the 1978 tragedy, during which more than 900 Temple members were ordered by Jones to commit suicide.[10] Newton returned home in 1977 to face murder charges because, he said, the climate in the United States had changed, and he believed he could get a fair trial. Because the evidence was largely circumstantial and not solid beyond hearsay, Newton was acquitted of Kathleen Smith's murder after two trials were deadlocked.[citation needed]

Later life

Newton earned a bachelor's degree from University of California, Santa Cruz in 1974. He was enrolled as a graduate student in History of Consciousness at University of California, Santa Cruz in 1978, when he arranged to take a reading course from famed evolutionary biologist Robert Trivers, while in prison. He and Trivers became close friends. Trivers and Newton published an influential analysis of the role of flight crew self-deception in the crash of Air Florida Flight 90.[11] Later, Newton's widow, Frederika Newton, would discuss her husband's often-ignored academic leanings on C-SPAN's "American Perspectives" program on February 18, 2006, mentioning that Newton earned a Ph.D. from UC Santa Cruz in 1980. His doctoral dissertation was entitled "War Against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America."[12]

In 1985, Newton was charged with embezzling state and federal funds from the Black Panthers' community education and nutrition programs. He was convicted in 1989.[citation needed]


On August 22, 1989, Newton was fatally shot on the 1400 block of 9th street in West Oakland by a 24-year-old Black Guerilla Family member, Tyrone Robinson.[13] Robinson was convicted of the murder in August 1991 and sentenced to 32 years for the crime.[14] Official accounts claimed that the killer was a known drug dealer in Oakland.[3]

Robinson contended that Newton pulled a gun when the two met at a street corner in the neighborhood, Sergeant Mercado said, but investigators said they found no evidence Newton had been armed. The killing occurred in a neighborhood where Newton, as minister of defense for the Black Panthers, once tried to set up social programs to help destitute blacks.

Newton's last words, as he stood facing his killer, were, "You can kill my body, but you can't kill my soul. My soul will live forever!" He was then shot three times in the face by Robinson, who went by the street name "Double R". [15]

In popular culture

There are many references to Huey Newton in popular music, including in the songs "Changes" by Tupac Shakur,[16] "Welcome To The Terrordome" by Public Enemy, "Queens Get The Money" by Nas, "Sunny Kim" by Andre Nickatina, "Same Thing" by Flobots, "Dreams" by The Game, "You Can't Murder Me" by Papoose, "Police State" by Dead Prez, "Propaganda" by Dead Prez "We Want Freedom" by Dead Prez. In the comic strip and cartoon show The Boondocks, the main character Huey Freeman, a ten year-old African-American revolutionary, is named after Newton; another reference comes when Freeman starts an independent newspaper, dubbing it the Free Huey World Report.[17] In 1996, A Huey P. Newton Story was performed on stage by veteran actor Roger Guenveur Smith. The one-man play later was made into an award-winning 2001 film directed by Spike Lee.[18]


  • Brown, Elaine. A Taste of Power. (Anchor Books: 1993) ISBN 0-385-47107-6.
  • Foner, Philip S. (editor) The Black Panthers Speak - The Manifesto of the Party: The First Complete Documentary Record of the Panther's Program (Dial, 1970)
  • "People of the state of California, plaintiff & respondent, vs. Huey P. Newton, defendant and appellant: Appellant's opening brief" (ERIC reports)
  • Hilliard, David and Keith and Kent Zimmerman. Huey: Spirit of the Panther (Thunder's Mouth Press, 2006)
  • Jeffries, Judson L. Huey P. Newton, The Radical Theorist (University of Mississippi Press, 2002)
  • Pearson, Hugh. Shadow of the Panther: Huey P. Newton and the Price of Black |Power in America (Addison Wesley, 1994)
  • Seale, Bobby. Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton (Random House, 1970)
  • Obituary in The New York Times by Dennis Hevesi, (August 23, 1989). "Huey Newton Symbolized the Rising Black Anger of a Generation"

Books, articles, and oral histories by or with Huey P. Newton

  • Huey Newton Speaks oral history by Huey P. Newton (Paredon Records, 1970)
  • Huey!: Listen Whitey! protest songs/spoken word by Huey P. Newton; produced by American Documentary Films; released by Folkways Records (1972)
  • To Die for the People: The Writings of Huey P. Newton Toni Morrison (Editor) (Random House, 1972)
  • Revolutionary Suicide with J. Herman Blake (Random House, 1973; republished in 1995 with introduction by Blake)
  • Insights and Poems by Huey P. Newton, Ericka Huggins 1975)
  • War Against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America by Huey P. Newton (Harlem River Press, 1996: the published version of Newton's PhD thesis)
  • The Huey P. Newton Reader David Hilliard and Donald Weise (Editors) (Seven Stories Press, 2002)
  • Essays from the Minister of Defense by Huey P Newton
  • The Genius of Huey P. Newton by Huey P. Newton
  • The original vision of the Black Panther Party by Huey P Newton
  • Huey Newton talks to the movement about the Black Panther Party, cultural nationalism, SNCC, liberals and white revolutionaries by Huey P Newton
  • Huey Spirit of the Panther by David Hillard with Keith and Kent Zimmerman (Thunder's Mouth Press)
  • To Die for the People by Huey Newton (City Lights Publishers, 2009)

See also


  1. ^ Gates, Anita (February 13, 2002). "An American Panther, In His Own Words". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  2. ^ Jones, Jackie (February 17, 2009). "Black History Month Faces and Places: Huey P. Newton". 
  3. ^ a b Biography Resource Center (2001). "Huey P. Newton". Gale Group Inc.. Retrieved 2009-04-25. 
  4. ^ Seale, Bobby, Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton, p 62
  5. ^ "Witness Says Newton Shot Policeman", New York Times, Aug 8, 1968
  6. ^ a b "State Opens Case of Black Panther", New York Times, Aug 6, 1968
  7. ^ The Huey P. Newton Reader by Huey P. Newton, chapters "crisis: October 28, 1967" and "trial"
  8. ^ a b Hillard, David Huey: Spirit of the Panther Thunder's Mouth Press, 2006.
  9. ^ Reiterman, Tim, Tom Reiterman, and John Jacobs. Raven: The Untold Story of Reverend Jim Jones and His People. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 284.
  10. ^ a b Reiterman, Tim, Tom Reiterman, and John Jacobs. Raven: The Untold Story of Reverend Jim Jones and His People. Dutton, 1982. ISBN 0-525-24136-1. p. 369.
  11. ^ Trivers, R.L. & Newton, H.P. Science Digest "The crash of flight 90: doomed by self-deception?" November 1982.
  12. ^ Newton, Huey P. (June 1, 1980). War Against The Panthers: A Study Of Repression In America. University of California, Santa Cruz. 
  13. ^ "Suspect Admits Shooting Newton, Police Say". Associated Press in New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-12. "The police said late Friday that an admitted drug dealer had acknowledged killing Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party." 
  14. ^ Los Angeles Times, 10-10-91, pA22; 12-5-91, pA19.
  15. ^ Pearson, Hugh, (1994) The Shadow of the Panther, p. 315
  16. ^ Lazerow, Jama; Yohuru R. Williams (2006). In Search of the Black Panther Party: New Perspectives on a Revolutionary Movement. Duke University: Duke University Press. p. 9. ISBN 0822338904. 
  17. ^ Datcher, Michael (October 2003), "Free Huey: Aaron McGruder's Outer Child is Taking on America", Crisis: 41–43, .
  18. ^ "Awards for A Huey P. Newton Story". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2008-06-24. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010
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From Wikiquote

Huey Percy Newton (17 February 194222 August 1989) was co-founder and leader of the Black Panther Party for Self Defense, an African-American radical organization that began in October 1966 in Oakland, California.



  • An unarmed people are slaves or are subject to slavery at any given moment.
    • "In Defense of Self-Defense" (20 June 1967)
  • To die for the … racists … is lighter than a feather but to die for the people … is heavier than any mountain and deeper any sea.
    • To Die for the People (1972)
  • I expected to die. At no time before the trial did I expect to escape with my life. Yet being executed in the gas chamber did not necessarily mean defeat. It could be one more step to bring the community to a higher level of consciousness.
    • Revolutionary Suicide (1973)
  • The FBI was most disturbed by the Panthers' survival programs providing community service. The popular free breakfast program, in which the party provided free hot breakfasts to children in Black communities throughout the United States, was, as already noted, a particular thorn in the side of J. Edgar Hoover. Finding little to criticize about the program objectively, the Bureau decided to destroy it.
    • War Against the Panthers: A Study of Repression in America (June 1980)
  • My foes have called me bum, hoodlum, criminal. Some have even called me nigger. I imagine now they'll at least have to call me Dr. Nigger.
    • Press conference (July 1980), quoted in Hugh Pearsons (1994) The Shadow of the Panther p. 288
  • When you deal with a man, deal with his most valuable possession, his life. There's play and there's the deep flow. I like to take things to the deep flow of play, because everything is a game, serious and nonserious at the same time. So play life like it's a game.
    • quoted in David Hilliard (2006) Huey: Spirit of the Panther, p. 46
  • You can kill my body, but you can't kill my soul. My soul will live forever!
    • Last words, quoted in Hugh Pearsons (1994) The Shadow of the Panther, p. 315


  • I'm actually a rather shy individual. I wouldn't consider myself to be very charismatic; I never did anything hero-like, I just worked on some little community programs. I do have a role to play however - I'm a theorist of sorts - I work on theories. But I really do not enjoy discussing the details of my personal life except as it relates to the movement. I hate cameras, microphones stuck up in my face. To tell you the truth, I hate stages cause they put you up on a stage and expect for you to entertain them and I keep trying to tell them I'm not an entertainer. Came to New York and I was supposed to speak at the Apollo Theater - 125th Street. And somebody called me, said, "Huey, we gonna have to cancel the rally. Somebody's gonna assassinate you from the balcony." I said, "Listen, if I'm ever foolish enough to get up on stage at the Apollo Theatre, they wouldn't need to assassinate me. That man will just come out and hook me off the stage." What's his name? The sandman? Yeah, the sandman cometh.
  • My father came out to California with another good friend of his who was also trying to support a large family. And this friend of his got a good job with the Oakland Public Works Department, something like that, but he quit that job cause he took a new job with the Oakland Police Department.… My father broke friendship with him, not because he joined the police force…; he broke his friendship with him because his friend was only allowed to arrest black people. So my father broke friendship with him on principle, cause that's the kind of man my father was, he was a man of high standing principle.

About Huey Newton

  • Huey P. Newton is the baddest motherfucker ever to set foot inside of history. Huey has a very special meaning to black people, because for four hundred years black people have been wanting to do exactly what Huey Newton did, that is, to stand up in front of the most deadly tentacle of the white racist power structure, and to defy that deadly tentacle, and to tell that tentacle that he will not accept the aggression and the brutality, and that if he is moved against, he will retaliate in kind.
  • He admitted killing Officer John Frey. He said that before he killed Frey, the police and the power structure could just come down to the black community and do anything they wanted. But after he shot Frey, much of that changed.
    • Newton's last testament to Willie Payne, described in Hugh Pearsons (1994) The Shadow of the Panther, p. 7

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