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Huey P. Newton
(1942-1989) Black Panther Party Co-Founder The youngest of seven children, Huey Newton was born in Monroe, Louisiana on February 17, 1942. He attended Oakland City College, where he founded the Afro-American Society, and later studied at San Francisco Law School. In 1966, Newton joined forces with Bobby Seale and established the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. Newton and his partner almost immediately became targets of sharp police resentment and uneasiness. The hostility came to a climax in 1967, when Newton allegedly killed an Oakland police officer. His eight-week trial was a cause celebre in which more than 2,500 demonstrators surrounded the courthouse chanting Panther slogans and demanding his release. Newton was convicted of voluntary manslaughter and sent to the California Men's Colony. His conviction was later overturned by the California court of appeals. By the 1970s the Black Panther Party became a potent political force in California. Co-leader Bobby Seale made an almost-successful bid for the mayorship of Oakland in 1973. In 1977, the Panthers helped to elect the city's first black mayor, Lionel Wilson. Meanwhile, Newton continued to have problems with the law. He was charged with shooting a prostitute, but after two hung juries, the charges were dropped. He was retried and convicted for the 1969 death of the police officer; however, the conviction was reversed. In 1980, he earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California; his doctoral thesis was "War Against the Panthers: Study of Repression in America." However, this achievement was followed by further problems. He was charged with embezzling state and federal funds from an educational and nutritional program he headed in 1985 and in 1987, he was convicted of illegal possession of guns. In 1989, he was fatally shot by a small-time drug dealer.