Special Juneteenth Edition
Who are the heroes who paid all working to correct injustice in civil rights? Most of us don’t know enough about those who paid so much for freedoms we take for granted.
We celebrate Juneteenth in 2020 with an active gaze toward those who spearheaded those efforts. For their tenacity and courage they were accidentally (sic) or purposefully assassinated in order to disrupt the process of unification i.e. prevent change.
One such leader was Fred Hampton, the founder of the Rainbow Coalition that coalesced the Black Panther Party with two Chicago street gangs, the Young Patriots and the Young Lords. He chaired the Illinois Black Panther Party and was named Deputy Chair to the national Black Panther Party all by the age of 21 years.
In 1969 Hampton was identified as a “radical threat” by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. His organizational skills, oratory ability and leadership were so impressive that then Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover sent a directive that said in part: “Prevent the rise of a “messiah” who could unify, and electrify, the militant black nationalist movement. Malcolm X might have been such a “messiah”; he is the martyr of the movement today…Elijah Muhammad is less of a threat because of his age. King could be a very real contender for this position should he abandon his supposed “obedience” to “white liberal doctrines” (nonviolence) and embrace black nationalism. Stokely Carmichael has the necessary charisma to be a real threat in this way.”
December 4, 1969, in the pre-dawn hours a raid carried out by the Chicago Police Department in league with the State Attorney’s office and the FBI led to Hampton’s death, the death of fellow Panther Mark Clark and serious injuries in several others. In the aftermath of the massacre, more than 100 bullets were spent in the apartment in contrast with one shotgun blast that did not quite leave the apartment in retaliation. The testimony of witnesses decried two last shots applied point blank to Hampton by the first two policemen who entered.
An article in The Nation magazine published on December 25, 1976 asks if Fred Hampton was assassinated by law enforcement in a conspiracy that defies explanation. See: https://www.thenation.com/article/society/was-fred-hampton-executed. There is considerable footage of denials and testimony from officers on how the raid was conducted. Much of their testimony doesn’t add up and the lead officer, Cook County State’s Attorney Edward Hanrahan was hard pressed to make a case.
Ultimately, the city paid a settlement, a horrendous under-investment for such a talented and literally innocent civil rights fighter. Say the name.