Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention. Streets of Washington, D.C. [Map titles]. Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention. Resolutions and Declarations [Text title]. Huey P. Newton, the Black Panther Party.
Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention. Streets of Washington, D.C. [Map titles]. Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention. Resolutions and Declarations [Text title].
Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention. Streets of Washington, D.C. [Map titles]. Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention. Resolutions and Declarations [Text title].
Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention. Streets of Washington, D.C. [Map titles]. Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention. Resolutions and Declarations [Text title].
Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention. Streets of Washington, D.C. [Map titles]. Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention. Resolutions and Declarations [Text title].

Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention. Streets of Washington, D.C. [Map titles]. Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention. Resolutions and Declarations [Text title].

Washington, D.C.: Black Panther Party, 28 November 1970. Mimeographed circular, title-leaf printed on one side only, 3 pp of text on two leaves and 2 maps on one leaf, one on each side. Title-leaf 278 x 215 mm; text leaves 353 x 215 mm; 1 map 213 x 287 mm plus margins, key superimposed on map; the other map 215 x 246 mm, plus key. A period inscription on the title-page reads, “Dec. 12 C.O.M. Parking lot to do.” On the smaller map a superimposed text reads, “Full map on other side.” On the larger map text reads, “Map of N.W. on the other side.”.

A fascinating Black Panther Party circular created for activists attending the Panther-organized Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention 27–29 Nov. 1970 in Washington D.C., with revolutionary text by founder Huey Newton, and two maps to orient attendees.

This circular was issued during the height of Black Panther influence, as the organization shifted from exclusively black-oriented concerns to a more inclusive revolutionary program. The utopian goal of the Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention (RPCC) was nothing less than a new version of the U.S. Constitution drafted by the various radical left organizations in America. The proposed D.C. convention came on the heels of a plenary convention in Philadelphia two months prior, in Sept. 1970, that attracted a wide range of identity-oriented and issue-focused radical groups from across the U.S., and whose attendance is estimated somewhere between 6,000–15,000. On the whole, the Panthers judged the Philly conference a success. They hoped its workshops would feed into the new constitution that would be completed and ratified in Washington—a document that would address all of the discontents and demands voiced by those attending. While thousands showed up in D.C., and some meetings occurred, attempts to assemble for the larger convention were foiled by the local authorities, as well as various internal problems that beset the Panthers. Shortly after the failure of the Convention, the Panthers began to fracture as an organization, and their influence soon declined, coinciding with the broader waning of the American New Left at the close of the Vietnam War.

The two maps included here feature text and a legend superimposed onto what appears to be a previously published atlas map or separately published map of Washington, D. C. These maps were intended to direct attendees to the various “RPCC Locations” as detailed in the legend, which is identical for both maps. These include Howard University (the proposed convention site); American University; the Ministry of Information; Day Care Center, Potomac College; People’s Involvement Corporation; and various meeting houses and churches. The more expansive of the two maps identifies all of these locations and represents a section of Washington extending from the National Zoo and the U.S. Soldiers Home in the north to the Washington National Airport and the Naval Air Station in the south. The slightly smaller map details the Northwest section of Washington D.C. (which is encompassed by the larger map of D.C.), and identifies six RPCC locations.

The opening passage of Newton’s text spells out the purpose of the conference and its utopian thrust:

This convention of Revolutionary Peoples from oppressed communities throughout the world is convened in recognition of the fact that the changing social conditions throughout the world require new analyses and approaches in order that our consciousness might be raised to the point where we can effectively end the oppression of people by people. We gather here from our communities because we realize that we have a common enemy, a common goal, and that the geographical barriers which separated us from one another in the past are no longer obstacles to our revolutionary unity.

The text concludes as follows: “We are here gathered for the solemn purpose of formulating a new constitution for a new world…When we have arrived at that which is in the true interests of the people and established it in full, then the word work will only refer to meaningful play. We will have cause of all our problems and then we can live according to a Constitution of Revolutionary People.”

A compelling Black Panther circular relating to the ultimately unsuccessful Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention, held in Washington D.C. in November 1970, with maps to orient the convention’s disparate participants.

REFERENCES: Black Panther Party Revolutionary People’s Convention: November 1970 at washingtonareaspark.com; Marable, M. and Vanessa Agard-Jones. Transnational Blackness: Navigating the Global Color Line. NY, 2008, pp. 162–164, quoting from the circular and identifying the text as Newton’s.

CONDITION: Worn, with short tears, creases, minor losses, and discoloration; title-leaf detached.

Item #4613

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