Bunchy Carter was the founder of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party, which he led until his assassination on UCLA campus in January 1969. He left behind a legacy of understanding and serving the needs of oppressed communities, based on his insistence for a spirit of unity with the people. The Bunchy Carter tribute stamp features the artwork of Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party. SCL extends its thanks to Emory for use of this image.
Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter was the founder and leader of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party. Bunchy had been a leader of the Slausons, a street organization which had, at that time, over 5,000 members. Like so many, Bunchy was incarcerated and spent four years in prison at Soledad. While there, he studied the teachings of Malcolm X, and he and his friend Eldridge Cleaver decided that when they were released they would start a west coast chapter of Malcolm’s Organization of Afro-American Unity. On his release in 1967, he found that Eldridge had joined the Black Panther Party and later that year Bunchy began organizing the Southern California Chapter of the BPP.
“A Revolutionary Memorial to Alprentice ‘Bunchy’ Carter”
Excerpted from the Black Panther Party Newspaper
“From the Slausons, from Soledad Prison, from the day to day confrontation with street life, Bunchy Carter brought with him all of his experiences, all the knowledge and love for the people that a man could give. He delivered a clear understanding of the situation that caused the oppression of Black people, and the subsequent need for the Black Panther Party.
“Bunchy was insistent that we understand the importance of unity—not the false unity proposed by government agents—but that unity that would be a key to the liberation of oppressed people. So a few months after the Chapter was formed, Bunchy issued a directive stressing the importance of unity in the community; it read: “The Black Panther Party must never be the enemy of the people. The Black Panther Party must never put itself in the position that other organizations can make it seem to be the enemy of Black organizations and thereby, the enemy of Black people….Therefore, we do the people’s thing!…The people will relate to the Party which relates to them. Therefore, we must continue to relate to the people.…”
“In keeping with the Party’s goal of becoming more and more one with the people, to better understand and serve their needs, Bunchy participated in a special educational program for Black students at UCLA in the fall of 1968. He felt that there, he would be able to recruit and educate other Black students around the need to serve the Black community. On January 17, 1969, after a Black Students Union meeting, Alprentice Bunchy Carter, Deputy Minister of Defense and John Huggins, Deputy Minister of Information of the Southern California Chapter of the Black Panther Party, were shot down and murdered
by members of US organization. Alprentice Bunchy Carter and John Huggins represented that force, that emerging unity that would someday flourish, the unity of all oppressed communities—Black, poor, and student alike.
“The spirit and wisdom of Bunchy’s leadership made the Chapter forge ahead, continuing and improving its service to the community. Like other Chapters of the Black Panther Party across the U.S. empire, the Southern California Chapter has implemented survival programs to serve the basic needs and desires of the people.
“And so we salute him, commemorate him, honor him, through our daily service to the people and the programs for their survival—the survival he believed in, lived and died for.”
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE
The Bunchy Carter tribute stamp features the artwork of Emory Doulas, former Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party. For many, their understanding of the Black Panther Party and its ideas was shaped by access to Emory’s art—which appeared every week on the pages of the Black Panther Party newspaper and was widely circulated in the United States, Europe, and the Third World. His powerful visual images illustrated the conditions oppressing, particularly, poor Black people, while at the same time portraying a vision of hope for everyone. SCL extends its thanks to Emory for use of this image.
- October 1966: Huey Newton and Bobby Seale write the first draft of the
Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) 10-Point Program.
- August 1967: Cointelpro, FBI short for “counterintelligence program,” is launched against Black power organizations, with the BPP as its main target.
- January 1968: Bunchy Carter organizes the Southern California Chapter of the BPP (which stretches to San Diego).
- March 1968: Arthur Glen Morris, brother of Bunchy Carter, is shot and killed by “agents” of the U.S. government. He is the first member of the BPP to be killed.
- August 1968: Police kill BPP Captains Little Tommy Lewis, Steve Bartholomew, and Robert Lawrence at a service station in Watts.
- September 1968: Bunchy Carter, John Huggins, Geronimo Pratt and Elaine Brown all register as students in UCLA’s High Potential Program.
- January 1969: Two Los Angeles Black Panther leaders, John Huggins and Alprentice “Bunchy” Carter, are gunned down by members of the US organization on the UCLA campus. In internal memoranda, the FBI take credit for the incident.
- April 1969: The L.A. Panthers begin their Free Breakfast for Children program in honor of John Huggins. “The Breakfast for Children Program,” wrote Hoover in an internal FBI memo in May 1969, “represents the best and most influential activity going for the BPP and, as such, is potentially the greatest threat to efforts by authorities to neutralize the BPP and destroy what it stands for.”
- May 1969: The Party office on 41st and Central is raided by the police. During a two-week period around this time, the LAPD makes 56 arrests of 42 Panthers.
- July 1969: Two Black Panthers are wounded and a third, Sylvester Bell, is killed in San Diego. The FBI again congratulates itself for its “success.”
- December 1969: The LAPD deploys its new SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics, a militarized police unit) teams and 400 police officers to raid three L.A. BPP facilities including the Central Ave. headquarters. Only after holding off the police for five hours do the Panthers surrender, alive.
- December 1969: The Bunchy Carter Free Health Clinic opens in L.A. By 1970, People’s Free Medical Clinics had become a requirement for every BPP chapter.
Download this Bio and Timeline for Bunchy Carter.