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Book Reviews
The Enduring Legacy of Portland�s Black Panthers
By: Joe Biel - Microcosm Publishing, $14.95

Description: In the 1960s through 1980s,�the Black Panther Party rose up throughout the�United States, envisioning a world without�systemic racism and�police violence.

This is the story of Portland, Oregon�s chapter of the Party,�told from original interviews, first-hand accounts,�and extensive�research, including police surveillance documents.

Verdict: Well, as I�m sure we are all more than well aware at this time of our history, the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) was founded in October 1966 in Oakland, California by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale, who met at Merritt College in Oakland.

It was a revolutionary organization with an ideology of Black nationalism, socialism, and armed self-defense, particularly against police brutality.

In 1969, J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), described the party as the greatest threat to the internal security of the country and thusly sabotaged the party with an illegal and covert counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) of surveillance, infiltration, perjury, police harassment, all designed to undermine and criminalize the party.

The party�s history is controversial, sure, but scholars have characterized the Black Panther Party as the most influential black power organization of the late 1960s, and the strongest link between the domestic Black Liberation Struggle and global opponents of American imperialism.

Other scholars have described the party as more criminal than political, characterized by defiant posturing over substance, but what this brand new book, The Enduring Legacy of Portland�s Black Panthers: The Roots of Free Healthcare, Free Breakfast, and Neighborhood Control in Oregon by author Joe Biel does is showcase a whole other side to proceedings back then.

Indeed, this newly written account showcases�a vivid picture of neighborhood activists�determined to improve their community by creating�their own social services,�and wildly succeeding � despite the aforementioned best attempts of police, city officials, and media to paint them as violent extremists, et al.

Furthermore, and as alluded to, Portland�s Black Panther chapter innovated healthy free breakfasts for�children in poverty, the longest-running Panther free health clinic, the Panthers� first dental clinic, and a powerful system of self-directing neighborhood associations.

Joe Biel�s account - which also comes with a foreword by Aaron Dixon, the former Captain of the Seattle Black Panther Party - shows that the Portland chapter�s�successes resound to this day, with current programs for�free breakfasts in schools, Portland�s strong neighborhood associations,�and even the�Oregon Health Plan owing their existence to Black Panther initiatives.

It clearly allows us to see that despite a racist city hall and police force, Black�Panthers in Portland persisted, outlasting most branches in the United States and permanently changing the city for the better.

Today, Portland, Oregon, is considered the whitest city in America, but as we read deeper into this wholly intriguing, and at times eyeopening new recounting, we get to learn more about this small, obscure, and yet no less powerful chapter, run at that time by Kent Ford, who would lead the Portland chapter equally through victories and defeats.

FYI: All author proceeds are being donated to the movement.

Official Book Purchase Link