The Black Panther Party

A Guide to an American Subculture

by Jamie J. Wilson


At the height of its influence, the Black Panther Party had more than sixty chapters and affiliates throughout the United States.

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February 2018


Pages 134
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics American History/Race and Ethnicity
  Race and Ethnicity/African American Studies

This compact volume offers a compelling introduction to a group once deemed the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States, the Black Panther Party.

In a time when African Americans' widespread tactic of direct, nonviolent protest was seen as the most effective way to fight for racial justice, the Black Panthers' confrontational style and critiques of local law enforcement throughout the nation defied both civil rights orthodoxy and white authority.

The Black Panther Party: A Guide to an American Subculture situates the Black Panther Party within the shifting political terrain of the African American freedom struggle of the late 1960s and early 1970s. In an era when African Americans were assumed to have secured their basic constitutional rights, the Black Panther Party stood firm to remind black people and the nation that despite the gains of the Civil Rights Movement, social, economic, and political equality had not been achieved for large segments of African Americans, and that more needed to be done locally and nationally.

Organized geographically, the book examines Black Panther Party chapters and affiliates throughout the United States. It covers the Panthers' most important developments and challenges, paying particular attention to local realities as they varied throughout the nation—from Oakland, California to New Haven, Connecticut.


  • Synthesizes the latest scholarship on the Black Panther Party
  • Explains topics clearly and in accessible language
  • Offers a compelling narrative that examines in depth the breadth of Black Panther Party politics and political activity
  • Examines the ways in which the Black Panther Party has been depicted in popular culture, including in films and in hip-hop culture
  • Includes biographical sketches of the most significant Panther members, along with a selection of primary documents
Series Description

Guides to Subcultures and Countercultures

Beatniks and hippies. Radical feminists. The Ku Klux Klan. These and other groups may seem to be on society's fringes, but they have a central role in the American story, leaving an indelible imprint on our music and art, pushing the nation toward social change, or, in the case of the Klan, leaving scars that are still slow to heal.

Each volume in this series offers students and general readers a concise and engaging examination of an American counterculture or subculture.

This series takes readers inside a number of subcultures and countercultures for an unforgettable look at the groups as a whole and the lives of the individuals who belonged to them.

Each volume explores a specific group's origins and historical context, the ideas and actions that set it apart from mainstream society, the language and lifestyles that brought unity to its members, and the unmistakable mark each made on the nation. It is an extraordinary opportunity for students and interested readers to consider divergent and sometimes repellent beliefs and lifestyles—from the terrifying Ku Klux Klan to the more peacefully rebellious hippies—and to encounter alternative accounts of some of the most intense and complex moments in American history.


  • Offers an engaging alternative to conventional works on American social history by examining subcultures and countercultures
  • Shows the lasting impact of groups that existed well outside the mainstream of American society
  • Draws on a wealth of contemporaneous primary sources as well as current interviews with central figures of each subculture or counterculture


  • Presents previously published or original interviews with people central to the counterculture, plus excerpts from newspaper articles, diaries, memoirs, speeches, court cases, legislation, and government documents
  • Offers a timeline of significant events related to the counterculture
  • Offers a bibliography of print and nonprint resources for student research
  • Includes glossaries, including slang for each group
  • Showcases sidebars of interesting facts and personalities
Author Info

Jamie J. Wilson is professor of history at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts. He is author of Greenwood's Civil Rights Movement.



"The only 'reference' source on the market and is thus a useful addition to all African American and cultural history collections."—ARBAonline

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