30 Years Ago Today Civil Rights Activist Huey Newton Was Killed

Oakland, CA February 26, 1979 - Huey Newton.
(Leo Cohen / Oakland Tribune Staff Archives)
Published June 15, 1980; September 30, 1982.(Digital First Media Group/Oakland Tribune via Getty Images)

30 Years Ago Today Civil Rights Activist Huey Newton Was Killed

Newton was shot twice by a member of a rival Black activist group in Oakland.

Published August 22, 2019

Written by Paul Meara

On August 22, 1989, Huey P. Newton, a civil rights activist and co-founder of the Black Panther Party, was shot-and-killed in Oakland, California.

Newton spent a majority of his life fighting against racism and police brutality. In October 1966, Newton, along with Bobby Seale, created the Black Panther Party. They began gaining recognition for brandishing guns in self-defense against local law enforcement.

They went on to fight for better housing, education and employment opportunities for African-Americans. The plans were laid out in the Panther’s “Ten-Point Program.”

In 1969, the Black Panther Party instituted numerous social programs, including the Free Breakfast for Children Programs in hopes of addressing issues like food injustice, and created community health clinics for education and treatment of diseases including sickle cell anemia, tuberculosis, and later HIV.

By the 1980s, the Black Panthers and Newton began infighting and relinquished much of their influence within their community and nationwide. Some Panthers, including Newton, were allegedly involved in criminal activity. 1982, Newton was charged with stealing $600,000 worth of state funds intended to go to the Oakland Community School. The charges were later dropped via a plea deal.

Huey Newton would go on to focus on education and eventually earned a Ph. D from UC Santa Cruz.

Tyrone Robinson, a member of rival Black activist group Black Guerrilla Family and a local drug dealer, shot Newton twice in the face on August 22, 1989. Robinson later confessed to the crime and was sentenced to 32 years to life in prison.

Some 1300 mourners attended Huey Newton’s funeral inside Allen Temple Baptist Church while another 500 to 600 listened to the service from outside. He was 47 years old when he died.

A year-and-a-half before he passed, Newton appeared on CBS San Francisco’s local news program People Are Talking and brandished some of the thought-provoking takes on social injustice he became famous for decades earlier. You can view the episode from 1988 below.

Photo: Digital First Media Group/Oakland Tribune via Getty Images


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