Saturday, November 3, 2018 || By Michael Romain || @maywoodnews
Featured image: Community members, including Fred Hampton Jr. and Congressman Danny K. Davis, meet at Irving in Maywood to discuss the future of Fred Hampton Sr.’s boyhood home. | VFP
Around two dozen community members met Nov. 1 at Irving Middle School, 805 S. 17th Ave. in Maywood, to discuss the longterm future of the boyhood home of Black Panther icon Fred Hampton.
Last month, the home, located at 804 S. 17th Ave. in Maywood, was temporarily spared from a foreclosure auction, giving family members and supporters of the slain civil rights leader more time to secure ownership and raise money to pay off back mortgage payments on the property.
Hampton’s only son, Fred Hampton Jr., hopes to turn the home into a museum to showcase the legacy of his father, who was assassinated by law enforcement authorities in 1969.
Since learning of the home’s endangered status a few months ago, Hampton Jr., who is the chairman of the Black Panther Party Cubs, has filled the second-story apartment where his father grew up with historic photographs and mementos.
He said that the Cubs organization, which is a second-generation spinoff of the original Panther Party, has also used the home as a base for launching various outreach initiatives, such as a free food program and open mic gatherings.
Hampton Jr. said that the idea that the home could be lost has galvanized a broad coalition of people and interests.
“This has been a discussion with Panthers and politicians alike coming together,” he said. “There are party members … who have been brought back to life by this.”
Many of the community members at the meeting urged Hampton Jr. to begin to formalize his plans for the home, even though the property is still in a precarious position.
“We have to regroup, get organized and put a solid foundation together and it’s got to be credible,” said Charles Thomas.
He recommended that Hampton Jr. and the Cubs pattern themselves on DuSable Museum, which Thomas said had “an outstanding” board of directors.
“When you start talking about the kind of money we’re talking about, we’ve got to be solid as a rock,” Thomas said. “We may need to form a 501(c)(3), inclusive of Cubs representation and community representation, and we’ll walk this road together.”
Congressman Danny K. Davis (7th) was also at the meeting. The congressman said that there “are some wealthy donors who give resources to things they believe in … they’ve got money, but the structure has to be there.”
Tumia Rumero, one of the congressman’s senior advisors, pointed Hampton Jr. to organizations like Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives, a nonprofit founded by the direct descendants of Frederick Douglass.
“That might be a good model to look at from a museum and nonprofit perspective,” she said.
But first, many people said, the primary order of business has to be saving the home. Since at least September, Hampton Jr. has helmed an effort to raise money to prevent the multi-unit apartment building from going to a mortgage foreclosure auction.
An auction that had been scheduled for Oct. 23 was cancelled, giving Hampton Jr. and his supporters some room to secure legal ownership of the home and to raise the back mortgage payments that are owed on the property.
During the Nov. 1 meeting, Hampton Jr. said that he appeared with an attorney in probate court in October. The next court date had not been scheduled at the time of the Irving meeting.
He also said that, to date, around $15,000 has been raised through various GoFundMe campaigns and direct donations.
According to the Judicial Sales Corporation, the judgement owed to U.S. Bank, the bank that owns most of the mortgage, was around $71,000. The total amount owed, however, could change, said Khaliq Muhammad, one of Hampton Jr.’s attorneys.
So far, Hampton does not have legal standing to speak with bank representatives about the property’s financial status because he is not the owner. That’s a big reason why the bank was able to proceed to a foreclosure auction relatively quickly, said Mario Reed, a representative with the Cook County Recorder of Deed’s Office, during a meeting about the home on Oct. 21.
According to Cook County Recorder of Deeds records, Hampton’s parents, Iberia and Francis, took out a $265,000 adjustable rate subprime loan on the house in 2007. The starting interest rate on the adjustable rate mortgage was nearly 10 percent and could have ballooned to nearly 16 percent.
“That’s predatory lending,” said Reed said at the October meeting, which was also held at Irving.
When Iberia died in 2016, ownership of the home reverted to her estate. William Hampton, the oldest, and last surviving, of her three children, died earlier this year. He lived in the home, which the family purchased in 1958, at the time of his death.
Once Hampton and his cousins secure ownership, they will be able to negotiate different mortgage conditions with the three banks — US Bank, LaSalle Bank and Bank of America — that own parts of the mortgage.
“We have to first find out if we’re going to save the Hampton house,” said Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey. “That’s bigger than anything else that’s going on. We have to get there. If we don’t get [the money], then everything else is a moot point.” VFP
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