While there is a small body of research on service provision by groups that espouse a willingness to use violence, this research often is based on a presumption that service provision is used solely as a utilitarian tool to recruit members for political or violent activities. Through an examination of service provision by the Black Panther Party (BPP), the authors seek to problematize the utilitarian notion of service provision by reframing political activism, service, and violence as parallel acts of resistance serving similar purposes of countering oppression and healing communities. During field research in Oakland, California, extensive information was collected through interviews with former BPP members and recipients of BPP social services, as well as archival documents and audiovisual materials produced both about and by the BPP. The analysis explores several examples of the BPP offering free healthcare, breakfast, and education services. The data provide evidence that an organization that has been traditionally framed as militant not only acted rationally, but also provided an important defense for their community. Both their social service provision and their commitment to bear arms were viewed locally as acts of compassion, protection, and love.
Pope, Ricky and Flanigan, Shawn. (2013). “Revolution for Breakfast: Intersections of Activism, Service, and Violence in the Black Panther Party's Community Service Programs.” Social Justice Research. 26 (4), 445-470.