22nd August 1989 the Death of Huey P. Newton

On this day in 1989, revolutionary leader and co-founder of the Black Panther Party Huey P. Newton was shot and killed when a drug deal went wrong. He was forty-seven years old. After his glory years in the 1960s during which time Newton was the most powerful voice in the Panthers’ crusade to establish equality for black Americans through militant organisation and community programs, the subsequent slog, drudgery and cultural disintegration of the 70s and 80s saw Newton drifting into the very downward spiral against which he’d so long railed. Ironically, his murderer, a young dealer named Tyrone Robinson, had once been a recipient of the “Free Breakfast”, one of the many initiatives that Newton had set up in his hometown of Oakland, California to improve life for the poor blacks of his community. As the crack-addicted Newton stared into the barrel that would soon fire three bullets into his face, he said to his killer: “You can kill my body, but you can’t kill my soul. My soul will live forever.”

Ignominious though his death may have been, Huey P. Newton’s life was anything but. He was a man of destiny who had set out to change the course of his own people’s destiny, in his own words, ‘by any means necessary.’ Speaking at Newton’s funeral, his fellow Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale said: “He stood for all of us, and he did so in ways very few people could even attempt … The debt we owe to HPN is one that can never be paid and may never even be fully understood.”

It’s more convenient for traditionalists and liberals to consign the legacy of Huey P. Newton to “controversial” than to recall with truth the oppressive milieu in which he was forced to act. And so, on the occasion of this revolutionary’s death, I have linked to this post a film so that we may be reminded of the trail Huey P Newton and the Panthers blazed, and the critical social changes that occurred in their wake.

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19 Responses to 22nd August 1989 – the Death of Huey P. Newton

  1. lemongirl says:

    Dorian I was a great fan of your blog last year and I’d just like to thank you for bringing it back. You and your husband are very generous to share your learning and ideas as you do.

    Thank you again. It is such a unique and rich concept.

    • Oran Payne says:

      Dear Sir:

      I would like to know whatever happened to Tyrone Robinson who killed Huey Newton? I had recently heard that Robinson was killed himself. But I can’t find anything online that tells this story. That’s why I am asking you, whatever happened to Tyrone Robinson? Is he still alive and in jail, or is he dead? I would greatly like to know? I also am from Oakland Ca and grew up in the 60’s as a teenager and loved the Black Panthers. The Black Panthers stood up to the white power establishment when Black people were lynched just for looking at a white man wrong or staring at a White woman. These Black heros of Oakland remain my heros all of my life and I am now a 60 year old man. Thank you very much for helping me.

      Oran Payne

  2. Anon says:

    I’m embarrassed to admit I’d never heard of Huey Newton. I watched the clip and then found some more about the Black Panthers on YouTube and couldn’t stop watching. Incredible. Why is he not world famous?

    • solo-mite says:

      besause certain people feel its best if he does not become more renowed because it might cause a stir up. FYI his death is a lie in this statement he was shot but it wasnt by a drug dealer and he was far from a crack addict he was actually a smart individual but this is what the government wanted you to see and know but AMERICAN AGENTS killed HUEY P NEWTON (do your research beyond google)

      • Kem says:

        Amen!!!! Huey P Newton was not on drugs and if we took time to research; this fact would eventually come to light….

        • Anonymous says:

          You all need to read the books that were written by Huey P Newton where ha has admitted to his drug addiction and prostitution of women. He admits his wrongs and how he felt shameful. Huey Newton was a great man with demons that we all tend to suffer from. His was just spotlighted. This didn’t make him less of a man but just an example the weakness of the flesh of the stongest. Read Revolution Suicide.

      • Anonymous says:

        I WAS ALSO LED TO BELIEVE THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAD HIM KILLED.

  3. Dorian says:

    Thanks, lemongirl – glad to see you here. 🙂

    Anon, no need to be embarrassed. Huey P. Newton’s legacy has most definitely been marginalised because of the manner of his death – so we don’t hear as much about him as you’d expect of such a great thinker. But, as Stokely Carmichael said, “Our Black heroes are important to us because of the way they lived their lives, not the fashion in which they met their death.”

    The Panthers were perhaps the most important American revolutionaries post-1776, and I’ll be remembering them and HPN frequently here on On This Deity over the next year.

  4. Howie Siegel says:

    Reading a novel, 2666 by Bolanos, and Newton’s history as told by Bobby Seale in a fictionalized version. The names are changed but it’s obvious. I appreciate your decisive account of Newton’s death. It isn’t covered elsewhere, even Wikipedia ignores comment. Thank you.

  5. Dakota says:

    Ok,so I also know barely anything about him but I chose him to do me school research project on and I found he is a great perosn to do this project on

    • Dorian says:

      Right on, Dakota. Seriously, read HPN’s “Revolutionary Suicide”. You’ll learn more in that one book about the real world than you will in all your years at school. 🙂

  6. ken says:

    I went online to a poster shop to purchase a black panther group poster for self and the shop said they sold more posters than any other site,only they had no knowledge of the black panther party or hewey p newton,bobby seals,stokley carmichael,and the person I was talking to was interested in listening to my interpitation of these men and who they were in american history.

  7. Athena Jones- Newton says:

    My husband is Huey P. Newton second cousin on his mother’s side of the family and I must say that I believe that Huey P. Newton was a real trooper and Iadmire his efforts for standing up for our African American people.

  8. steven m shelley says:

    all that’s said about huey,bobby etc.i hear no mention of chairman Fred Hampton did he not give his life for the cause ?

  9. Tony M says:

    I doubt Huey had a gun .in the one place where it would come in handy .what talent and intellect this guy had .read his full wikipedia. he probably misused his gifts, but I’ll never forget those Panthers standing in the streets w/ shotguns backed by California law. until gov.Reagan (an NRA member and 2nd amendment supporter)had the law eliminated. I would say, the Panthers ,unintentionally showed first, just how much freedom we have in this great country .second, they drove a public official to take some of that freedom away, because it wasn’t convenient to have (certain) responsible gun owners armed in public.

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