Black Liberation Army Papers, 1963-1998
Using These Materials
- The collection is open for research.
- Black Liberation Army
- The Black Liberation Army (BLA) was an underground Black Nationalist organization largely comprised of former Black Panther Party members. The majority of the materials in the Black Liberation Army archive fall under the Thomas "Blood" McCreary series, a member of the BLA. The archive consists of seven series: Thomas "Blood" McCreary, Correspondence, 1976-1978, Legal, Topical, Newspaper Clippings, 1969-1978, Events, Publications and Black Panther Party. The documents range in date from 1963-1998.
- 1.5 Linear feet (1 records box and 1 manuscript box)
- Finding aid prepared by Heather Norris (2010), Megan Darlington (2013)
- Scope and Content:
Thomas "Blood" McCreary, a member of the BLA, is the largest series in the Black Liberation Army archive. The correspondence sub-series consist of letters written to or from McCreary ranging in date from 1963-1998. Letters referencing Tupac Shakur can also be found in the correspondence sub-series. Legal is the largest sub-series and is comprised of eight legal cases McCreary was involved in as well as legal documents regarding Tupac Shakur's estate. Legal documents include affidavits, appeals, correspondence with lawyers, statements from McCreary describing prison conditions and trial errors, and a character reference from Bell Gale Chevigny. McCreary's resume, contacts and newspaper clippings are also small sub-series'. The photography sub-series is comprised of three folders which include a photograph of McCreary's graduation from Adelphi University in 1986, the Panther 21 reunion and miscellaneous photographs.
Project Renewal is an organization in New York City with a goal of ending homelessness. McCreary served as a member of the Black History Month Committee for this organization. The Project Renewal sub-series contain documents regarding the planning of a black history month event. The next sub-series is the 25th anniversary of the New York Panther 21 acquittal. On April 2, 1969, 21 members of the Black Panther Party were arrested and charged with conspiracy to blow up the New York Botanical Gardens. McCreary served on the committee to plan the celebration of their acquittal 25 years later. This material includes speaker requests, invitation and flyers. The final sub-series is the 30th anniversary of the Black Panther Party, where McCreary served as a committee member. This material includes meeting minutes, speaker requests and publicity.
Correspondence, 1976-1978 is a series consisting of 5 folders of letters and notes from Black Liberation Army members and range in topic.
The Legal series is comprised of two legal cases. The first is Caban v. United States, dated February 7, 1984. This document is an appeal in a case that involves a man named Salvador Caban who was detained for six day by INS despite being a citizen of the United States. The second is Richard Moore v. FBI, et al.. The documents in this case include exhibit documents as well as a transcript taken during the deposition of Sekou Odinga, a BLA member.
Topical is a series which is separated into 3 sections. Resumes are the first section, which contains the resumes of four people. Next, the Counterintelligence Program section consists of a memorandum describing the background, development and potential offices of the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO), an FBI program which conducted covert and sometimes illegal activities to neutralize numerous political organizations. The final sectuib in the Topical series is titled Reconsolidation and Infrastructure, dated 1996. This includes several documents regarding ways to reconsolidate the structure of the BLA.
Newspaper Clippings, 1969-1997 is a series that largely consists of newspaper clippings covering the arrests of BLA members as well as opinion pieces regarding the organization.
Events consist of seven sections: United African Movement Freedom Retreat, Protests, Fundraisers, Memorials, Campaigns, Lectures, and the 27th Annual African American Parade. The materials range in date from 1970-1995 and include publicity material, clippings and flyers.
The Publications series contains five sections. First, the Black Panther section include various articles from the Black Panther publication ranging from their beliefs to collages and poems. The New York Amsterdam News section is an ad in support of Assata Shakur. "Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996," Public Law 104-132 is dated April 24, 1996 and was signed into law after the Oklahoma City bombing. Newsletters is a section comprised of newsletters from various organizations. Finally, the New Afrikan Journal section consists of Volume 4, Number 1 edition of the journal.
Black Panther Party is the final series in the Black Liberation Army archive and consists of six sections: Articles, "The Black Panther Party Foundation" by Afeni Shakur, Panther film, Questionnaire, Photocopies of photographs and Black Panther Collective. The articles section ranges in topic and are all undated. "The Black Panther Party Foundation" was a brief report written by Afeni Shakur regarding the assembly of the east and west coast Black Panthers in order to preserve the history of the party and conduct formal remembrances of fallen members. Panther, film is a section regarding the 1995 film about the BPP directed by Mario Van Peebles and starring Kadeem Hardison, Courtney Vance and Bokeem Woodbine. The photocopies of photographs sub-series include photographs of BPP Minister of Defense Huey Newton as well as photographs of a "Free Huey" rally. There are also miscellaneous photographs which are undated. The Black Panther Collective was formed in 1994 with the mission to carry on the legacy of the BPP. This sub-series includes correspondence, flyers, rules and regulations and community police patrol documents.
- Biographical / Historical:
The Black Liberation Army (BLA) was a Black Nationalist-Marxist organization which largely consisted of former Black Panther Party (BPP) members. The organization operated from 1970-1981. The Black Liberation Army began to strengthen during the collapse of the Black Panther Party. BP Minister of Defense, Huey Newton, began to renounce political violence after his release from prison and expelled member Eldridge Cleaver and his followers, who did not agree with Newton's new views. While Cleaver did not lead the BLA, members were loyal to his ideas at the time. The BLA became known for violent acts including robberies and bombings. The belief of the BLA was that an armed front was necessary in order to fully liberate African Americans. The BLA began to deteriorate around the time of the 1981 Brinks robbery which involved several senior BLA members and resulted in the death of one guard and two police officers.
The principles of the BLA were:
• "That we are anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist, anti-racist and anti-sexist."
• "That we must of necessity strive for the abolishment of these systems and for the institution of Socialistic relationships in which Black people have total and absolute control over their own destiny as a people."
• "That in order to abolish our system of oppression we must utilize the science of class struggle, develop this science as it relates to our unique national condition."
The BLA Coordinating Committee, Message to the Black Movement: A Political Statement from the Black Underground
CourtTV Crime Library, Ambush: The Brinks Robbery of 1981
- Processing information:
Heather Norris, 2011
- Rules or Conventions:
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Click on terms below to find any related finding aids on this site.
African Americans -- Politics and government.
Black militant organizations -- United States.
Black nationalism -- United States.
Socialism -- United States.
Fliers (printed matter)
Hinds, Lennox S.
Shakur, Tupac, 1971-1996
Using These Materials
The collection is open for research.
- USE & PERMISSIONS:
Copyright has not been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan. Permission to publish must be obtained from the copyright holder(s).
- PREFERRED CITATION:
Black Liberation Army Papers, University of Michigan Library (Special Collections Library)