A Brief Rant on Fred Hampton

As a junior in high school, I was woefully ignorant and prematurely woke on many influential leaders of the civil rights movement. I had just began to learn about Fred Hampton and his assaination and the overall effect he had on the civil rights movement as a leader of the Black Panther Party in Illinois. Looking back his story never sat right with me. He was bright and young and in his last moments gunned down in his bed by the FBI.  

His story is also one that is not talked about often. But with growing interest and more focus on black stories and biopics, a fraction of his story is going to be told in the upcoming movie “Judas and the Black Messiah”. This movie will be about the FBI plot to gather information of Hampton by using a member of his party against him. Fred Hampton will be portrayed by actor Daniel Kaluuya and the FBI informant will be played by one of my personal favorite actors, Lakeith Stanfield. I’m praying that the movie does justice to Hampton’s family as well as the legacy of the Black Panther Party. 

Fred Hampton was born on August 30, 1948 in Maywood, Chicago. While getting his education in junior college Hampton got active with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and lead the Youth Council of the organizations branch in West Suburbia. He later went on to found the Chicago chapter of the Black Panther Party in November of 1968. 

Unlike the superficial radicalization and violence the Black Panther Party tends to get shrouded by, Hampton, in fact, did not use his chapter in a violent way. He implemented community based educational programs on political institutions and policing. And also started a food program that gave away free breakfast for children and created a medical clinic that was relatively free for patients in the community. 

One of the most notable things Hampton did was convince two infamous rival gangs in Chicago to stop fighting one another. This happened in 1969 when he conducted a press conference and formed the ‘rainbow coalition’. A mutiracial alliance of blacks, hispanics and the poor, which in turn raised suspicion from the FBI. In my opinion, by Hampton rallying rival gangs and communities of minorities that were not African Americans, our government viewed this as a threat. It was almost as if the peace and kinship between blacks, hispanics, and other minoirity groups presented a ‘threat’ to their white counterparts. And this is why I believe he was killed by the FBI. 

Its absolutely heartbreaking that Hampton died the way he did. It was both an unnecessary and gruesome death that striped us of one of the most intellectual and youthful minds of the civil rights era. Fred Hampton was 21 years old when he was gunned down in his home. 21. Just think, if he were still alive today he would be 73. And his impact and influence on the civil right movement would have been grand. He would still be in the streets and speaking out against police brutality and urging for social reform and more than likely prison reform. If he were still alive today, I wonder what he would say about our society. He would probably being overwhelming disappointed. I know at times, I am as well.