Patriot Party (1960s–1980s)
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|Split from||Young Patriots Organization|
|National affiliation||Rainbow Coalition|
The Patriot Party was an American socialist organization of the late 1960s and early 1970s that organized poor, rural whites in the Appalachian South and Pacific Northwest. The party was formed after a split with the Young Patriots Organization. The YPO's membership was drawn from street gangs of Appalachian whites in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois; it became politicized after working with the Young Lords, an ethnic Puerto Rican gang; and the African-American Black Panther Party.
The Patriot Party was a member of the original Rainbow Coalition, formed by Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party and others to create a broad-based, multi-racial political coalition. It formed after the United Front Against Fascism conference held in Oakland, California in 1969. The coalition included the Young Lords, the Brown Berets and I Wor Kuen. Hampton's intention was to have multi-ethnic gangs working together to accomplish peaceful solutions, rather than battling each other.
The Patriot Party borrowed strategies of community organizing from the Black Panthers, with whom they were especially close. For instance, they established a Free Breakfast for Children program. The Eugene, Oregon chapter, location of the University of Oregon, garnered much community support with their "Free Lumber" program. At this time in the Northwest, some poor people still relied on wood-stoves for cooking and heating, and cheap wood was hard to come by.
In 1970 the FBI arrested the entire central committee of the Patriot Party[who?] and charged them with various felonies. They later dropped the charges but, by the mid-1970s, the FBI's COINTELPRO program had effectively suppressed the organization.
In 1982 the civil rights activist Jesse Jackson adopted the name of "Rainbow Coalition" for organizing multi-ethnic groups to support and vote for liberal (generally Democratic) candidates for public office, in order to strengthen minority voices by acting in collaboration.
Amy Sonnie and James Tracy, Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times (Melville House Publishers, 2011)