Last year, the national chairman of the New Black Panther Party, Hashim Nzinga, visited the Richmond Heights community to discuss core ideals of the party. The New Black Panther Party is a U.S.-based ethnic political organization that promotes ideas of Black Nationalism, a movement that centers itself on the self-sufficiency of African Americans.
The original Black Panther Party, known as a militant, but non-racist, left-wing organization, has rejected the new Panthers as a “black racist hate group,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).
The SPLC says hate groups are organizations that vilify others because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. Most forms of modern black separatism are strongly anti-white and anti-Semitic, and a number of religious versions assert that blacks are the biblical “chosen people” of god.
The visit of the New Black Panther Party to Richmond Heights brought attention to the existence of hate groups in Florida to many of the state’s residents. According to a study done by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Florida has the second largest number of hate groups in the nation, 22 of which are Black Separatist groups.
“It just shows how much racism has become a major topic of discussion in America, racism is coming from both sides now,” said junior Shaaliyah Munrop, the president of the African American Heritage Club.
Black Separatist organizations have been present in America since the early 1930s but have never been so prevalent as they are now, with 193 separate organizations within the US.
Black separatists typically oppose integration and interracial marriages and in certain cases want a separate nation for black people in America. Many groups often commit violent acts in support of their beliefs. In 2007, Hulon Mithcell Jr., the leader of The Nation of Yahweh, a Miami-based black separatist group, was convicted of conspiring to murder whites as an initiation into the group.
Most of these groups are also open to the public about their existence. The New Black Panther Party has a Facebook page that has accumulated over 100 likes. They also regularly perform speeches in public spouting their beliefs.
“Even though these groups have the right to speech, Florida should talk about the issues and try and figure out a solution” Munrop said. “I feel like they aren’t doing enough, because if they were, this wouldn’t be a problem.”
Despite these hate groups’ honesty and open attitude about their beliefs, Florida has done little to prevent or shut down these organizations.
“Everybody just bundles up into their own groups and attacks all the other groups that aren’t their own” said junior Sanaa Simmons, vice president of the African American Heritage Club.
As race relations grow worse and hate crimes are committed nearly every day,groups like the Black Separatists just add fuel to the fire.
“It’s 2017 and it’s all about race,” said Simmons. “There’s an issue when we’ve come this far and it’s still our biggest problem.”