Have you seen the new NBC show Aquarius? It features David Duchovny's detective Sam Hodiak in the 1960s as he follows a case leading to the one and only infamous killer Charles Manson. But, Aquarius isn't just about Charles Manson. The show is intent on bringing other issues of the 60s to the forefront, like their racial tension storyline with the Black Panther Party, and its leader Bunchy Carter (played by Gaius Charles). The second episode of the series introduces us to Bunchy, who is fed up with the police's disinterest in solving the many murders occurring in his neighborhood. He continues to pop up in the rest of the season. And, as this show is inspired by actual persons and events, the question has to be asked: Is Bunchy Carter a real person? Yup, he sure is.
Bunchy Carter, born Alprentice Carter, was an activist in the 60s, and he created the Southern California chapter of the Black Panther Party. Like in Aquarius, Carter had joined the Nation of Islam thanks to the teachings of Malcolm X, but he became a Black Panther thanks to Huey Newton, a Black Panther Party leader whom Carter believed to be a "personification" of Malcolm X's teachings. He joined in 1967, the year Aquarius depicts in the series.
We don't know where Aquarius will take Bunchy's character if it gets renewed for a second season, but if they continue to follow his real life, they have a lot of intense material to work with. In 1968, Carter helped establish the Southern California Black Panther chapter and successfully ran it, although he did gain enemies from rival groups as he dealt with the immense racial unrest of the time. Plus, the Black Panther movement in general was considered a huge threat to the FBI. So much so, that the Party was targeted and investigated by FBI's secret operation COINTELPRO.
Unfortunately, in 1969, rivals of the Black Panther Party shot and killed Carter and his fellow Black Panther member John J. Huggins while they were meeting with other African American advocates at the UCLA campus. The shooter was allegedly Claude "Chuchessa" Hubert, a member of the Black Panther rival group called Organization US. According to J. Daniel Johnson, a witness at the event, the shooting allegedly happened after a scuffle was already taking place, thanks to a confrontation between a young man named Harold "Tuwala" Jones, and Black Panther leader Elaine Brown. While Los Angeles police arrested three members of the Organization US on suspicion of conspiracy and murder, both Hubert and Jones escaped.
It's certainly a fascinating story, and if Aquarius Season 2 happens, it's going to be really interesting to see where they take Carter next.
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