‘What We Want, What We Believe’: Teaching with the Black Panthers’ Ten Point Program

Teaching Activity. By Wayne Au. 7 pages.
The author describes how he used a study of the Black Panther’s Ten Point Program to help students assess issues in their own communities and to develop Ten Point Programs of their own. Available in Spanish.

  • Time Periods: People’s Movement: 1961 - 1974, 20th Century | Themes: African American, Civil Rights Movements, Organizing, Racism & Racial Identity | Reading Levels: High School | Resource Types: Teaching Activities (Free)

‘What We Want, What We Believe’: Teaching with the Black Panthers’ Ten Point Program | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's HistoryDownload PDF.During the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Power Movement, in particular, community self-determination was central to many peoples’ struggles. The Black Panther Party for Self Defense sought social justice for African Americans and other oppressed communities through a combination of revolutionary theory, education, and community programs.

Their party platform, better known as the Ten Point Program, arose from the Black Panthers’ assessment of the social and economic conditions in their community. It became part of the party’s philosophical backbone and served as a model for many other community groups such as the Brown Berets, the Young Lords, and the Red Guard.

I taught about the Panthers in the context of a high school African Studies class in Seattle that focused on African history and the experience of the Diaspora. Of the 30 working- and middle-class students, most of them 10th graders, 25 were African American, four were white, and one was Chicana. When I teach about the Black Power Movement, I try to connect the movement to today’s issues. One way is by having students review the Black Panther Party’s Ten Point Program and develop their own personal versions of the program. This lesson, of course, has to take place within the context of a larger unit on the Panthers and African American history in general.

Black Panthers’ Ten Point Program | Zinn Education Project: Teaching People's History


This lesson was published by Rethinking Schools in an edition of Rethinking Schools magazine, (Fall 2001; Vol. 16, #1).



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There are 4 comments by other visitors:

  • so true

    Response shared by dave — August 16, 2014 @ 12:35 am

  • The 10 points are needed to be embraced by every citizen and illegal immigrant to rise up and defeat the deep state elitists controlling the shadow government

    Response shared by Rex Zark — November 9, 2014 @ 8:51 pm

  • This is a great lesson. I would use this document in conjunction with Malcolm X’s speech, accessible on YouTube, where he discusses many of these points, particularly the economic needs of African-Americans. Ballet or the Bullet is on YouTube, along with other speeches by Malcom X. This is still relevant, particularly considering what’s happening in Ferguson and at the U of Oklahoma.

    Response shared by mcavoy5558 — March 10, 2015 @ 7:57 pm

  • I will use this lesson this summer at Newark JDC

    Response shared by Jennifer Block — June 16, 2016 @ 11:50 am

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