New Black Panthers of a Different Stripe

Veteran Black Panthers of the 1960s and '70s are roaring again, but their cry this time is not over racial disparities at large, but racism within the New Black Panther Party.

Now a fixture on the speaker circuit, Black Panther Party co-founder Bobby Seale is accusing the New Black Panthers of sullying the original group's reputation by showing up heavily armed at demonstrations and preaching violent, racist and extremist views on its Web site.

"This new group has a bunch of xenophobic, black nationalist rhetoric, which is tantamount to a bunch of racist rhetoric," Seale said.

"Why not call themselves the new black Muslims? They only take our name because of their own personal exploitation, their own economic gain, pure and simple," said former Black Panther Party Chief of Staff David Hilliard.

The leader of the new group, whose full name is the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense, said he has a First Amendment right to the Panther name and its logo.

"Basically, this thing is out of jealousy, and we say that the torch must be passed," said New Black Panther Party Executive Director Malik Zulu Shabazz.

With the Black Panther name comes a long legacy. The Black Panthers of the earlier generation claimed to be the voice of poor African-Americans and led many of the charges for greater civil rights and liberties.

Along the way, however, they became better known as violent reactionaries, and many members were convicted of inciting riots and gunning down police officers.

The group tried to turn around its image before it disbanded in the early 1980s, focusing on community-based service programs.

The New Black Panthers seek some of the same goals as the old group, including economic and political equality for blacks in the United States. But they also have other agenda items, including slave reparations and the destruction of Israel and have offered a legal defense to alleged "20th hijacker" Zacarias Moussaoui.

"They should thank us because many people would have forgotten about the Black Panther Party of the 1960s from Oakland if it were not for the New Black Panther Party today," Shabazz said.

Hilliard responded that the old school has nothing to thank them for.

"Why would we thank someone that's robbing us?" he asked.

Ironically, the original Panthers are taking their case to court, asking the system they once referred to as "the Man" to protect their trademark name and the profits that flow from it.

The New Black Panthers say they'll fend off this attack -- Shabazz is a practicing lawyer -- with as much passion as their predecessors would have done.

Fox News' Claudia Cowan contributed to this report.