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The Patriot Party is the name of two unrelated U.S. political organizations of the 20th century. The first one, in operation in the 1960s, was a group of neo-socialist activists affiliated with the radical Black Panther Party. The later one, formed in 1994, was involved with the Reform Party that challenged traditional American two-party politics. Aside from the name, the only similarity between the two parties was their focus on being an alternative to the established political system.
Dissatisfaction with the Vietnam War and U.S. politics in the 1960s led many young activists to form organizations that advocated political reform and, sometimes, outright revolution. One of the most well-known and controversial groups was the Black Panther Party, African-American activists who attempted to mobilize and politicize inner-city black communities. Their confrontational stance and rhetoric won them many enemies in the political hierarchy and many admirers among the radical left.
Among those admirers was the Patriot Party, a splinter group of the Young Patriots Organization. Both groups were based in uptown Chicago, but the Patriot Party embraced the methods and doctrine of the Black Panther Party, although most of its members were white. It joined the Black Panthers in the Free Breakfast initiative, offering morning meals to children in inner-city neighborhoods. It also ran a Free Lumber program, providing firewood to impoverished families in Eugene, Oregon. Its other geographic bases were in Cleveland, New York City and New Haven, Connecticut. The group disbanded in the early 1970s.
The second Patriot Party was formed in 1994 in the aftermath of the 1992 election that saw independent candidate Ross Perot receive almost 20 percent of the U.S. popular vote. In the aftermath, a power struggle developed between various groups that saw the Reform Party as the chance to create a viable alternative party in America. One of these groups called itself the Patriot Party, although it had no connection with its 1960s predecessor. The new Patriot Party was affiliated with Lenora Fulani, a psychologist who had run for president as an independent socialist candidate in 1992 and earlier elections.
Fulani had achieved more votes than any other female presidential candidate in history in 1988, when a grassroots initiative placed her on the ballot in all 50 states. As the 1990s political climate grew increasingly hostile, however, alternative parties such as the Patriot and Reform parties failed to agree on how to initiate change. The Reform Party’s nomination of conservative Pat Buchanan in 2000 spelled the end of Fulani’s association with the Reform Party; the Patriot Party itself had already dissolved some years earlier.
I feel like the 60s black power movement has been distorted by time and by a media with an agenda. By and large this healthy and vibrant movement has been reduced down to its most inflammatory and militant elements. And while I won't deny that aggression and confrontation was occasionally a feature of the movement, it was hardly the defining feature.
What was best about the movement has been obscured or forgotten or manipulated. It was about pride and joy fundamentally. About being happy to be the person you were and feeling like you were a full citizen of a community, a city, a state and a nation. You were whole even when the world made you feel like only half. That is what black power was about and that was a powerful idea.
I would be very interested to learn more about that second Patriot Party. It is amazing to think that a socialist could get more votes for president than any other woman in history and just 12 years later her same party would nominate Pat Buchanan as their candidate. That is an amazing swing in ideology.
Does anyone know if there are any good resources about the Patriot Party out there?
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