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"


Modern Pitung said...

Hey bro, I think your writeup as a fellow member of this generation probably outdoes mine. But I'd also like to give a shout out to Fire on the Mountain, who relates this repression of yesteryear with that of today.

Beyond all the sloganeering, I feel a corollary is necessary to the "they can kill a revolutionary, but can't kill the revolution," slogan -- that is, they can't kill the revolution directly, but they will do it if we're not vigilant. Which is why we've got to beat repression back the hell it came from.

the burningman said...

Brother Fred Hampton... More than any other person, Chairman Fred is why I am a communist today. He was killed before I was born, but he lives on in Chicago where his almost unique blend of vanguard politics and personal humility is legendary.

So much ink and blood were spilled in the the Panther split. Fred Hampton was one of the guys they just HAD to take out. He wasn't getting caught up in the ego games, nationalism, and reformism that tore into the Panthers, with the help of the FBI.

Thanks for recognizing this true hero.