I've wondered about that. Is there a connection between the group The Black Panthers and the comic character?
No. Black Panther (the character) first appeared in July 1966. The Black Panther Party was founded in October 1966.
In fact, there was a brief period back in the 70's when Marvel renamed him the Black Leopard to avoid any political connotations, but changed their mind shortly thereafter.As I recall, he justified it by saying something like:
"I neither condemn nor condone those who have adopted the name, but the Black Panther is a law unto himself!"