Black History Month: Fred Hampton


Josh Brown, Reporter

Fred Hampton was born Aug. 30, 1948 in Summit, Ill. Hampton was an African-American activist and revolutionary. At the age of 21, he became the chairman of the national Black Panther Party.

Hampton was making significant change in Chicago. He helped the Chicago community by having all the major street gangs agree to a nonaggression pact. While Hampton was making all these positive steps, he was also on the FBI radar because FBI chief J.Edgar Hoover was determined to prevent the formation of a cohesive black movement.

In 1968, Hampton was close to closing a deal to unite the whites, Italians, and the Latino organizers which would have doubled the BPP, but the FBI viewed this as an untenable ultimate threat and ordered a crackdown on the BPP. The FBI aspiration of destroying the BPP came true, when the FBI and the Chicago police department conducted a raid on Fred Hampton’s home. They shot and killed him and a fellow BPP member named Mark Clark. On that night there were a total of 99 shots, all taken by the Chicago Police Department. When the case went to trial, it ended up being ruled as a justifiable homicide. This was the case solely due to Hampton being a part of the BPP; the only crime he committed was stealing candy from a store and giving to kids in the community.

“You can jail revolutionaries, but you can’t jail the revolution. You might run a liberator like Eldridge Cleaver out of the country, but you can’t run liberation out of the country. You might murder a freedom fighter like Bobby Hutton, but you can’t murder freedom fighting. And if you do, you’ll come up with answers that don’t answer, explanations that don’t explain, you’ll come up with conclusions that don’t conclude. And you’ll come up with people that you thought should be acting like pigs that’s acting like people and instead moving on pigs.”
-Fred Hampton