Fred Hampton would be 72 this year. In dying at 21 (read: murdered by the Chicago Police Department), he was a seed. With his vision he was able to sway people across races to allyship. This is beautiful and rare thing! In the closing of this month of unapologetic Blackness, it is fitting that we take a minute and remember the dynamic force that was Fred Hampton. -JBHarris
What I have always liked about Fred Hampton was his presence. He was murdered by the Chicago PD 12 years before I was born, he will forever be 21! The fact that he was able to work within the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and become chairman of that chapter in Chicago? It speaks volumes to desire and willingness to work for social change. How many teenagers/folk in their early 20’s do you know that establish coalitions (here the Rainbow Coalition) and get gangs to stop banging–and folk listen to them?
Now, 50 years after is assassination, I look at his life not at a shrine–but as a reminder. It is a reminder that power structures can be toppled, they need to be toppled and there will always be young people at the helm of change. As it relates to white supremacy, this is an entity that cannot stand to be confronted. It prospers with fear and intimidation. It thrives on apathy, greed and indifference! It hates challenges to its power and tradition–so it loathes anything young, gifted and Black.
I wanted to include Fred because he often gets overlooked because of the encompassing, lasting legacy of the Black Panthers. I mean, in the face of Angela Davis, Bobby Seals and (Dr.) Huey P. Newton, you don’t immediately mention or add the name of Fred Hampton. Yet, he is just as important as any of them. In many ways, he reminds of me Joshua Williams (Kid Ferguson).
What I need you all to understand is the revolution, this desire for change is not a fluke–and is needed! Never let your age intimidate you from the desires you have to change the world. I want you all to remember those that came before you. I want you to remember you don’t have to be ‘old’ to change the world. I want you all to remember Fred because he was bold. He was unafraid. And he was present in the moments when it mattered the most.
I don’t want you to dwell on the controversy surrounding his death. I don’t want his death to remind you to keep mistrusting the police. I want you to focus on the legacy! I want you to focus on the fact his son is an activist. I want you to find a quote of his and be reminded words have power. Behind that power can be actions which will change the world.
Whether that is at 12, 21 or 40 and beyond.
Nothing is had without struggle…and it is because of at struggle are most things gained, remembered or appreciated. Fred Hampton taught me that.
[images from reddit.com and Pinterest.com]