David Hilliard

David Hilliard was born in Oakland, California, on 15th May, 1942. He was one of the first members of the Black Panther Party (BPP)and became chief of staff of the organization.

Hilliard was arrested in January, 1968, for passing out leaflets at Oakland Technical High School. When Huey Newton was arrested in September, 1968, Hilliard took over the command of the BPP.

On 6th April, 1968 eight BPP members, including Hilliard, Eldridge Cleaver and Bobby Hutton, were travelling in two cars when they were ambushed by the Oakland police. Cleaver and Hutton ran for cover and found themselves in a basement surrounded by police. The building was fired upon for over an hour. When a tear-gas canister was thrown into the basement the two men decided to surrender. Cleaver was wounded in the leg and so Hutton said he would go first. When he left the building with his hands in the air he was shot twelve times by the police and was killed instantly.

The activities of the Black Panthers came to the attention of J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI. Hoover described the Panthers as "the greatest threat to the internal security of the country" and in November 1968 ordered the FBI to employ "hard-hitting counter-intelligence measures to cripple the Black Panthers".

On 3rd December, 1969, Hilliard was arrested and charged with threatening the life of President Richard Nixon. He was accused of saying at a meeting "we will kill Nixon". Later that month Hilliard was found guilty of carrying a gun and was sentenced to a 6 months in prison.

Hilliard was also charged with shooting at the police during the incident when Bobby Hutton was killed. In July, 1971, Hilliard was found guilty of this offence and received a one to ten year prison term.

In 1993 Hilliard joined Fredrika Newton in establishing the Huey P. Newton Foundation. The non-profit educational organization provides community-based programs, which include literacy, voter outreach and health-related components. The following year David Hilliard published his autobiography, This Side of Glory (1994).

Primary Sources

(1) David Hilliard, interviewed by the Black Panther newspaper (20th April, 1969)

Q: What is the reason for the purge that is going on in the Black Panther Party?

A. We related to what Lenin said, "that a party that purges itself grows to become stronger." The purging is very good. You recognize that there is a diffusion within the rank and file of the party, within the internal structure of the party. So the very fact that you purge strengthens the party. You get rid of all the criminal elements, and work with the people left. You will become stronger, more of a fortress. Quoting form Stalin, I think he said something like "the party used to be hospitable, it would yield to the opinions of all the sympathizers. "But, now the party has become like a fortress." And that the party is only interested in the very best and the most revolutionary sections of society. We try now to attract the very best. And our doors are not open to anyone that decides that they want to join the party. Now the people that become a part of the rank and file of the Black Panther Party will definitely have to be somebody who wants to carry out the desires and aspirations of the oppressed people."

Q. What of the alliance with "DRUM" "FRUM"?

A. That was an alliance that was put together by Kenny Horston. He is the leader of the Black Panther Caucus out at General Motors in Fremont. Kenny had went back east to do some investigation because he became interested in trying to organize the workers, the black workers in particular. He went back and had discussions with members of DRUM and members of the Ford revolutionary movement that they have back there. He found out that the majority of the members within the two organizations were Panther Party members. That was a very gladdening experience to know, that the brothers back there hand begun to organize the workers. And really moving to try and put up a working class force in order to deliver a very mighty and telling blow to the imperialistic system.

I think the credit should be attributed to Kenny Horston the brother that came up with the idea of trying to make some coalition with the Black Caucus here in Fremont, and the brothers in Detroit.

We see the necessity of making some alliances with the working class, black, white, Latin American, Orientals, and or what have you. We see that as being a very grave necessity that the revolution as a whole is dependent upon making a coalition with the other working class people. Panthers themselves are workers, it is just that we consider ourselves the most advanced detachment of the working class. Because of the theoretical analysis and because we have applied theoretically the ideas and works of Marx and Lenin and we have tested them in the external world, which proves that there is a need for the masses of the people, and a need for solidarity of the working class. Our whole thing about discovering the triumvirate consisting of Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin. It is just a matter of trying to give a very complete picture of history. It's like considering the part without the whole to talk about Lenin and Marx, to talk about Mao Tse Tung and his deed without really bringing Stalin in on the overall historical scene. Stalin played a very important part in the Russian revolution and he played an important part in the first Socialist State manifested in Russia.

It is not a thing that we are Maoist or Stalinist, Leninist. We say that there is no such animal as a Maoist --- that there is just Marxist, Leninist, and that Stalin was truly a Marxist-Leninist. He always praised Lenin and carried out the ideas of Lenin. It's just a matter of people and history in its totality and telling the true story of what took place.

The reason that they fear Joseph Stalin is because of the distorted facts that they have gained through the Western press.

The one thing that we respect about Stalin, is that Stalin was able to capture the will of the people. He was able to put forth the will of the people more so than anyone else.

(2) David Hilliard, The Ideology of the Black Panther Party (8th November, 1969)

The ideology of the Black Panther Party is the historical experiences of Black people in America translated through Marxism-Leninism. When we review the past history of Black people in this country, we realize that after 400 years we are victims of the oppressive machinery that gags, binds and chains Black men who speak out in defense of their alleged constitutional rights.

Many people act as if they were surprised at what's happening to the Chairman of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale, but I think a careful examination of who our persecutors are will clear the minds of the masses of people that could not see through the so-called judicial smokescreen of justice. These people that tortured and gagged and chained Bobby are the descendants of pirates. Genocidal murderers of the Red Man; users of the atomic bomb upon the Japanese people. The enslavers and exploiters of Blacks in this country right up until this very day.

The Black Panther Party since its inception has always used the weapon of example to educate the masses. When the Minister of Defense, Huey P. Newton, sent a delegation of armed Panthers to the California state Capitol this was a process of educating the people by example that Blacks did not have their rights guaranteed by the constitution to bear arms in defense of their lives against racist mobs of fascists in or out of uniform. So that Huey P. Newton made the statement "an unarmed people are either enslaved or subjected to slavery at any given time."

It is sometimes hard to understand how people react to the term fascist. They think the fascists left when the Hitlerites were defeated. I relate to what Eldridge says, "that the American flag and the American eagle are the true symbols of fascism." The American historian has a way of justifying this system by using Germany as the most vicious enemy against mankind, this is perhaps true for the people of Jewish descent. But when we really check this shit out, starting with the genocide of the Indians, the 50,000,000 Black people slaughtered by the oppressors when taken against their will at the point of guns, over 400 years ago, right here in America. Then reminding ourselves of the genocidal and imperialist war against the Vietnamese people, the burning of Blacks on the sacred cross of Christianity. Then it becomes easier to relate to the chieftains of fascism, imperialism, racism; and Bobby Seale's demand for his right to self defense.