Today December 4th We Remember Chairman Fred Hampton-Killed by the FBI and Chicago Police

“I am … a revolutionary” was the rallying cry of Chairman Fred Hampton, a leader so powerful that he could draw tens of thousands on a moment’s notice and therefore such a threat to the system that he was assassinated at the age of only 21, on Dec. 4, 1969. – Photo: Paul Sequeira

Today December 4th  2010, many in our generation and community will note this was the day rap star Jay-Z was born 41 years ago. His birth will be celebrated, people will shout him out and his success will be a symbol of our collective achievement. Thats a good thing. We should always give props to those making moves among us.

What will not be noted by many in our generation and for that matter many in previous generations will be the vicious and deliberate death of 21 year old Chairman Fred Hampton..and Mark Clark. Fred was the leader of the Chicago Black Panther Party which was the largest chapter.

Chairman Fred was man decades ahead of his time. He’s the one who started the original Rainbow Coalition where he united and formed effective coalitions with whites, Black, Brown,  Yellow and Red peoples. Here was man that was actively working to politicize and work with the local gangs to help advance our people. here was a man who used a cadence and style of call and response speech later made famous by Jesse Jackson. Today we hear Jesse say ‘I am … Somebody’.. Back in the days you heard Fred say ”I am..a Revolutionary‘.

What won’t be remembered is that the deaths of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark came at the hands of the racist Chicago Police department and the FBI through its cointel-program. On this day December 4th we hope don’t forget.. 41 years later Justice has not been served.

Davey D

This article was written by former Black Panther and editor of the Black Agenda Report Bruce Dixon it was for last year’s (2009) 40th commemoration of Chairman Fred Hampton‘s Death

Remembering Fred Hampton

by bruce Dixon

Bruce Dixon

I remember Fred Hampton.  For the last year of his life, which was the whole time I knew him, he was Deputy Chairman of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party.  Fred was a big man whose inexhaustible energy, keen insight and passionate commitment to the struggle made him seem even larger still.  We called him Chairman Fred.  Chairman Fred was murdered by the FBI and Chicago Police Department in the pre-dawn hours of December 4, 1969.  He was just 21 years old.  Fred’s family and comrades mourned him for a little while and have celebrated his life of struggle, service, intensity and sacrifice ever since.

For such a short life there is much to celebrate.  A gifted communicator and natural leader, Fred was organizing other high school students at the age of 15.  Though a brilliant student, Fred passed up the chance to attend some elite college, the straight road to some lucrative and prestigious career.  Inspired by examples from the civil rights movement to anti-colonial struggles in Vietnam and Africa, Fred chose instead to live and work on the West Side of Chicago and devote all his talents and energies to ending the oppression of woman and man by man, helping to organize and lead the Black Panther Party in Chicago.

Chairman Fred led by example.  He had high standards and challenged all those in his orbit to get up as early, to read as much, and to work and study as hard and as productively as he did.  I never saw anybody meet that challenge for long, but he made us want to keep trying.  Fred sought out principled critiques of his own practices, and taught us the vital role of constructing, receiving and acting on such criticism in building a sound organization.

Fred assumed a lead role in organizing the party’s Breakfast for Children program, in which we solicited donations of food and facilities and provided or recruited the labor to serve free hot breakfasts to children on the way to school in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods where local authorities assured us that no hunger problem existed.  Not long afterward the city of Chicago began using federal funds to provide hot breakfasts to children in lower income neighborhoods across the city.  Fred worked with the Medical Committee for Human Rights to open the Black Panther Party’s free medical clinic on the West Side of Chicago where authorities again solemnly declared there were no shortage of such services.  And again, not long afterward the Chicago Board of Health was persuaded of the need to open a network of clinics providing free and low-cost services in the city’s poorer areas.

Chairman Fred Hampton

Fred reached out to work with the Young Lords Organization in Chicago’s Puerto Rican community, and to a group of  white working class youth who called themselves the Young Patriots.  He made time to speak to and with student groups in high schools and colleges all over Chicago and the surrounding area.  He organized community surveys to get snapshots of the actual and perceived needs of some neighborhoods.  1969 was well before the epidemics of powdered and crack cocaine put large and permanently corrupting sums of money into the hands of gang leaders.  Fred was instrumental in crafting a principled approach not just to individual members but to the rank and file and leaderships of black Chicago’s two major street gangs to put aside their differences and work for the good of the entire community.  His efforts met with some initial success, and earned him some extra special attention from the FBI.

There was much more, really an awful lot going on for a young man of 20 or 21, all the more amazing as most members of the organization he led were a year or two or three younger than Fred.  Despite arrests and threats of imprisonment or death hanging over him, Fred persevered and challenged us to do the same.  He was impatient with injustice, as the finest young people of every age always are.  Fred was animated, almost consumed by a love for our people and for all of humanity and determined to do whatever it took to end the exploitation of woman and man by man.

Times do change and the mechanisms of oppression evolve into new forms.  Political organizations and strategic visions crafted for the needs of one era do not make the grade in another.  If Fred was alive today he’d be a grandfather in his sixties.  It’s impossible to know exactly how he’d be doing but there is no doubt that Fred would still be teaching and learning and inspiring, still tirelessly organizing and struggling in the great cause of human liberation.

Chairman Fred called us to a lifetime of service to humanity.  If we weren’t doing something revolutionary, Fred told us many times, we should not even bother to remember him.  So, forty years on and counting, we continue to work hard to be worthy of his memory.

This is Bruce Dixon, for Black Agenda Radio. Find us on the web

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  1. good work Davey on not forgetting as great a revolutionary as the world has known.

  2. 21 years old? huh? What are our 21 year old’s doing today? I may not agree with a damned thing he said or stood for, but he was doing his thing at such an age, whereas these days our young folks are too busy doing whatever…

    • Jose, that might be because people are suspected of being terrorists today if they become active in the ways that Hampton and the Panthers were. What rock have you been hiding under for the past 12 years?

  3. This is amazing Davey D!! I’m so glad that you did this.

    It is bittersweet because Fred Hamilton didn’t have to die or as we now know was murdered by the government. But also that you are taking the steps to make sure that he is remembered on the day he was murdered.. Keep up the great work..

  4. Like i stated previously the only way towards total freedom we as a people will have to fight to the death let the chips fall where they may. In the history of the (devil) he fought for his freedom from his oppressers other whitemen we can debate lecture and all but the the fact remains only true freedom is not fearing death and proceed to estabilish ourselfs on this earth as Kings and Queens. If we were to lose the whiteman would lose and really we would have shown a force that has never been seen but in all actuality we would prevail but we must fight! Peace to the lost Gods like Fred Malcom, King Bekio Queen izininga and countless nameless but not forgotten others. Peace to all and know the ledge before you fall off the edge. LordRah out!

  5. This is such an inspirational article, Davey! We appreciate you so much for doing this in remembrance of the murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, and for what they stood for. If many people that are of the age of 21 (whether a little younger or older) knew that he did and stood for so much at his age, they may be inspired to live a more meaningful life. That is why it is good you posted this because you are helping to put this knowledge out! As painful as this may be to some, it is very important that we know and remember this. Keep up all the good work! We are very grateful for all that you do!

    Thanks, Bro. Davey!

  6. RobThomas says:

    Jose says:
    December 4, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    21 years old? huh? What are our 21 year old’s doing today? I may not agree with a damned thing he said or stood for


    You don’t even know what he said or what he stood for.

  7. He stood for “Giving it to da Maaan!”

  8. RIP!

  9. RobThomas says:

    Jose says:
    December 6, 2010 at 9:15 am

    He stood for “Giving it to da Maaan!”


    No he didn’t. And if you were capable of reading more than a paragraph every 24 hours, you’d know that.