Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Remembering Fred Hampton (1948-1969)
Fred Hampton is not nearly as well known as some of his fellow Black Panther Party members like Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. Personally I heard about him first while watching PBS's "Eyes on the Prize" series in back in the late 80s but being pretty young I dont think I remembered his name until I heard that Dead Prez track sometime in early 2000.
Check out this interview with Eddie B. Allen Jr (via New Black Man) about Hamptons life and also this video sent to me by a friend (Bryan Proffitt) down in North Carolina.
A few years ago I was having dinner with two long time activists who were very active in the anti-war and anti-racist movements of the 60s and early 70s after an event, and I remember them waxing poetic about Fred Hampton and what a big blow to the movement it was after the Chicago Police/FBI assassinated him. They said that Hampton was perhaps the best speaker that they had ever seen, and that he was an amazing organizer out in Chicago. He was supposed to have been the one who had brought together the "original rainbow coalition" specifically working to unite Black and Latino activists across race and class lines in a way that had never been seen before. Hamptons life and subsequent murder serves as a reminder to all of us that the mass social movements of the 60s did not simply "fade away" or "die out" but rather were constantly facing brutal repressions by the US government, the CIA & the FBI.
But as Fred Hampton once said "You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail a revolution... you might murder a freedom fighter..., but you cant murder freedom fightin"