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Keywords

African Americans – Civil rights; Civil rights movements; Colorado – Denver; History; Black Panther Party

Abstract

Black power in the late 1960s was once blamed for the fall of the civil rights movement. The more militant and abrasive black power approach was mistaken for the alternative civil rights movement, contradictory to the progressive approach of nonviolent marches in the South. However, recent scholarship contextualizing black power and the Black Panthers in particular, restructured this paradigm. This move toward a more inclusive approach to studying black resistance across the country steered The Movement out of the Memphis to Montgomery narrative, and instead provides a more textured understanding of black radicalism as a vital aspect of civil rights history. The Denver Black Panther Party was instrumental in Denver's civil rights movement, particularly from 1968-1971. By embracing the national party‘s ten-point program, the BPP radicalized Denver‘s civil rights climate. Denver‘s BPP experienced police brutality, vandalism, and mistreatment, all of which were encouraged by the city‘s mayor, police chief, and elected officials, in a city which claimed that blacks "just didn‘t have it that bad." Denver‘s black politicians were agents of change, no doubt, but their mere representation in the state house and city council, and the school board did not inherently guarantee protection from racism. Denver‘s blacks were involved in changing their city, through local politics, national conversations about school desegregation, and in the Panther‘s case, through active resistance.