Black Panther in ExileThe Pete O'Neal Story

Black Panther in ExileThe Pete O'Neal Story

Paul J. Magnarella

Print publication date: 2021

ISBN: 9780813066394

Publisher: University Press of Florida


In the tumultuous year after Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, 29-year-old Pete O’Neal became inspired by reading The Autobiography of Malcolm X and founded the Kansas City branch of the Black Panther Party (BPP). The same year, FBI director J. Edgar Hoover declared the BPP was the “greatest threat to the internal security of the country.” This book is the gripping story of O’Neal, one of the influential members of the movement, who now lives in Africa—unable to return to the United States but refusing to renounce his past. Arrested in 1969 and convicted for transporting a shotgun across state lines, O’Neal was free on bail pending his appeal when Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the BPP, was assassinated by the police. O’Neal and his wife fled the U.S. for Algiers. Eventually they settled in Tanzania, where they continue the social justice work of the Panthers through community and agricultural programs and host study-abroad programs for American students. Paul Magnarella—a veteran of the United Nations Criminal Tribunals and O’Neal’s attorney during his appeals process from 1997–2001—describes his unsuccessful attempts to overturn what he argues was a wrongful conviction. He lucidly reviews the evidence of judicial errors, the prosecution’s use of a paid informant as a witness, perjury by both the prosecution’s key witness and a federal agent, as well as other constitutional violations. He demonstrates how O’Neal was denied justice during the height of the COINTELPRO assault on black activists in the U.S.