Monday, December 4, 2017 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: A mural of Fred Hampton on Chicago’s West Side. | sarah-ji/Flickr
Forty-eight years ago today, Fred Hampton, perhaps Maywood’s most famous native, was killed while sleeping in his bed inside of his Chicago apartment. On the night of Dec. 4, 1969, Hampton followed Civil Rights icons like Martin Luther King, Jr. (killed the previous year) into martyrdom.
Nearly a half-century later, there is no shortage of memorials and retrospectives. A movie, to be directed by Antoine Fuqua (“Training Day”), is in the works on Fred’s life. There have been reports and books and dissertations quite literally the world over on the 21-year-old’s assassination at the hands of Chicago police. There’s a mural on the West Side of Chicago and a bronze bust in Maywood of Fred’s likeness. The Maywood pool he tried integrating when he was a teenager is named after him.
On today, the anniversary of the Illinois Black Panther chairman’s death, we thought it would be interesting to scan the surface of online reporting about Fred. The results are as diverse as the burgeoning rainbow coalition the young activist was working to build when he died.
Fred (and the band Algiers) in the Financial Times: An article in none other than the Financial Times, perhaps the unlikeliest source of Fred Hampton iconography, is actually a profile of the “transatlantic four-piece” band Algiers, which samples what may be Hampton’s most famous utterance: “Remember I said — with the last words on my lips — that I am . . . a revolutionary.”
From the Times: “‘We won’t be led to slaughter — this is self-genocide,’ roared lead singer Franklin James Fisher over spluttering sub-bass and ratatat hip-hop hi-hats. A banner proclaiming ‘All power to the people’ hung behind him.”
Never forget: A Newsweek article asks, “Who was Fred Hampton …” It’s mostly a repackaging of tweets from activists and individuals, like attorney Clint Smith, who knew Hampton personally. But it’s better than nothing. And the short video clips included in the piece add another depth of understanding. From the piece:
“Never forget that 48 years ago today the FBI & Chicago Police Dept conspired to murder Fred Hampton in his apartment because they were afraid he was creating a multiracial political coalition to challenge those in power,” Clint Smith wrote on Twitter today. “He was just 21 years old.”
Play it again: The alternative TV news show “Democracy Now!” replayed an interview with attorney Jeffrey Haas, author of The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther, and also linked to the always haunting 60-minute documentary, “The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther.”
Tweet the day: The writer and activist Clint Smith’s tweet about Fred generated 10,000 likes, 7,700 retweets and 77 comments. It was also picked up by Newsweek.
Fred’s Jay Z connection: The pop culture site Complex even got in on the act with a timely reminder that no lesser a cultural luminary than Jay Z dropped a reference to Fred once upon a time:
“In the middle of the talk about jaunts to Paris and other-other-Benzes on Watch the Throne, Jay Z dropped a line attempting to show connections between generations of black activism. ‘I arrived on the day Fred Hampton died,’ he rapped on ‘Murder to Excellence.’ ‘Real [n—] just multiply.'”
Complex also offers this bit of information, because … well, it’s Complex:
“And, per Hov’s insistence on #SuperFacts, the math checks out. Jay’s born day — December 4, 1969 — was the day when Black Panther Party deputy chairman Fred Hampton, as well as fellow Panther Mark Clark, were murdered by a coalition of the FBI and Chicago police.”
A short, declarative reminder: The Root, in a short article serves as a reminder to its readership of the FBI’s history, particularly in light of an FBI report on “so-called ‘black identity extremists'” that leaked in October.
99 questions: Attorney Flint Taylor bears first-hand witness to Fred’s assassination, having represented the family during a long civil case following the Black Panther leader’s death. In his article in Truth Out, Taylor asks a penetrating litany of questions that, in the wake of the leaked FBI report, need to be asked:
“Are Black Lives Matter leaders now being targeted? Are they included on the FBI’s latest version of its Rabble Rouser and Agitator Indexes like Fred Hampton was? Are anti-Klan activists riddled by agent provocateurs in the mold of William O’Neal? Are activists who oppose anti-Muslim violence marked for the Bureau’s Security Index?”
‘Never forget’: This Boombox article focuses on a Killer Mike Instagram post about Fred.