Donald L. Cox

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This article is about the 1960s Black Panther Party leader. For the electrical engineer, see Donald Cox.
Donald Lee Cox
Born (1936-04-16)April 16, 1936
Appleton City, Missouri, United States
Died February 19, 2011(2011-02-19) (aged 74)
Camps-sur-l'Agly, France
Nationality American
Other names DC
Occupation Political organizer
Organization Black Panther Party
Known for Field Marshal of the Black Panther Party, 1967–71

Donald Lee Cox (April 16, 1936 – February 19, 2011), known as Field Marshal DC, was an early member of the leadership of the African American revolutionary leftist organization the Black Panther Party, joining the group in 1967. Cox was titled the Field Marshal of the group during the years he actively participated in its leadership, due to his familiarity with and writing about guns.[1]

Biography[edit]

After a rural upbringing in western Missouri, Cox moved to San Francisco in 1953 at age 17. He became interested in political action through following the desegregation and civil rights events of the next several years. Cox joined the Oakland, California-based Black Panthers in 1967 in response to a civilian-shooting-by-police incident in the Hunters Point section of San Francisco a year earlier.[2] Along with Eldridge Cleaver, Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale and others, Cox was a member of the "central committee" of the Panthers.[1]

Cox became a national organizer and spokesperson for the group, which was involved in multiple legal cases and a target of the COINTELPRO project of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.[3] In January 1970, Cox was invited to speak to several dozen guests of composer Leonard Bernstein and his wife Felicia at their penthouse apartment in the wealthy Upper East Side neighborhood of Manhattan. The gathering was an effort to raise funds for the defense of twenty-one Black Panther members who were charged with conspiracy to bomb buildings and other crimes.[1][4] Cox was famously photographed along with the Bernsteins for a cover story essay by Tom Wolfe in New York magazine, published in June 1970 and entitled "Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny's".[4] The article led to the popularization of "radical chic" as a critical term.[5] Cox, along with the Bernsteins, vehemently dismissed Wolfe's notion that the New York upper class was dabbling in radical politics as a fashion statement at the event, vouching for their sincerity.[1]

Shortly after the Bernstein fundraiser Cox was accused along with several others of conspiracy to murder a Panther who was an informant in Baltimore named Eugene Anderson. Cox fled the United States to avoid trial, living first in Algeria and later in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France. Cox did not return to the United States, although he married an American from Philadelphia, Barbara Easley. He died in exile in Camps-sur-l'Agly, France in February 2011.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Weber, Bruce (13 March 2011). "D.L. Cox, a Leader of Radicals During 1960s, Dies at 74". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 March 2011. 
  2. ^ "An Interview with Donald Cox, former Field Marshall, Black Panther Party". Itsabouttimebpp.com. Retrieved 15 March 2011. 
  3. ^ Stohl, Michael (1988). The Politics of terrorism. New York: Marcel Dekker. p. 249. ISBN 0-8247-7814-6. Retrieved 15 March 2011. 
  4. ^ a b "Radical Chic". Hope for America: Performers, Politics and Pop Culture. Library of Congress. Retrieved 15 March 2011. 
  5. ^ "Leonard Bernstein: A political life". The Economist. May 28, 2009. Retrieved 15 March 2011.