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The Fortune Cat and its Black Panther Party Roots: A Secret History Revealed

Jan 27, 2018

The Maneki Neko—aka the Fortune Cat or Good Luck Cat—originated in Tokyo or Kyoto. The earliest records appear in a chronology of the Edo period, dating back to 1852. Spreading quickly, it became a common fixture in the stores of many Asian merchants to bring good luck.

But that’s just the cover story.

The Black Panther Party for Self-Defense was a revolutionary socialist organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Newton in October 1966.  

At its inception, they began arming citizens to challenge police brutality and monitor the behavior of the Oakland Police Department. They also instituted a variety of community social programs, including Free Breakfast for Children programs and community health clinics.

FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover called it “the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” The US government could not tolerate an armed black nation. They cracked down with killings and arrests of the Panthers, who themselves were not opposed to violence, feeling as if their backs had been to the wall for hundreds of years. The tension with the government only server to help the group's popularity grow amongst African Americans and the broad political left.

The history of injustice within the United States is also a history of discrimination against Asian Americans, including the relocation and incarceration of Japanese American citizens during World War II. A war against Vietnam did not help ease tensions with the Asian community. By the time the Black Panther Party picked up in the late 60s and early 70s, many Asians wanted in on it too.  And that's just what happened.

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