Huey P. Newton says he plans to resume leadership of the Black Panther party after his three years in exile and that the party's major goal will be full employment.
In a recent interview, Newton explained the goals for the black militant organization he founded 11 years ago.
Newton, 35, returned from Cuba June 25 to face trial on charges of murder and assault that could put him in prison for the rest of his life.
"I came home . . . because I believe the people's consciousness has been lifted by Senate intelligence committee reports that prove the FBI and other government agencies were out to destroy the party," Newton said.
"This doesn't mean I expect justice in the court room. I think I'll be acquitted. But even acquittal doesn't necessarily mean justice."
Newton said the first priority of the Panthers will be full employment. With capitalism some form of exploitation is necessary," he said. But I'm convinced full employment is possible. To achieve this, big business and the multinationals will have to take a cut in profits, and some of the overpaid unions will have to cut their pay demands, perhaps in return for more control in the factories. But it can be done."
Newton claimed the emphasis on employment does not represent a change of philosophy but more an updating of priorties. "We've always been democrats with a little d," he lauged. "Remember, in 1966 the primary concern of the black community, as later proved by the Kerner Commission on Crime, was police brutality, and we responded by controlling the police.
"Now people are more concerned with full employment and gaining control of institutions in their community. What happened in New York [looting during the blackout] was unemployment, not racism. No diamond stores or banks were taken off. Folks were getting things like cheap furniture, groceries and Pampers for the baby.
"We're going to put the unemployment question before the American people. We're going to expand our community survival and voter registration programs. When necessary, we will have demonstrations and marches, although we'd rather negotiate."
All of this seems a far cry from the days when Newton posed in a wicker chair holding a rifle and a spear. And he quickly admits, "In some ways we have matured, we have learned some lessons." One of those lessons: "The cops and the FBI could beat us at shootouts, but they can't beat us in elections."
Does Newton still consider himself a revolutionary? "Yes. The word scares people, I know, because they don't know what a revolution is all about.
"The Cubans say that in 1959 they only won the right to have a revolution and the hard work is just beginning. I think in the U.S. it would be revolutionary to have full employment. In that sense, I think are many, many people who are revolutionaries."