by Calvin Parrish Jr.
Basics Issue #10 (Aug/Sep 2008)
August 30, 2008, marks what would have been the 60th birthday of the well-known Deputy Chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Fred Hampton – had he not been murdered while he slept at the age of 21 years-old, by Chicago police almost 40 years ago.
Fred Hampton was born in Chicago in 1948. Early in his life, Hampton would become a well respected and beloved progressive community organizer who struggled against class and race oppression.
A brilliant student, Hampton graduated from high school with honors before taking pre-law at Triton College. After joining the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense in 1966, Hampton became a remarkable community organizer in Chicago. He was influential in starting free breakfast programs for children and a free medical clinic for people in his community that could ill-afford to pay for pricey medical bills. Everyday at 6:00am he would run and assist in political education classes for his community. Also, he used education as a way of converting Chicago street gangs into socially conscious and active members of the community.
At 4:45am, December 4th, 1969, Fred Hampton was murdered, as he lay in his bed, by a FBI-sponsored police raid. Between 82 and 99 shots were fired from machine guns, carbines and .357 magnums into his room – both Fred Hampton and his comrade Mark Clark were killed. He was 21 years old.
As mentioned, August 30 would have been Fred Hampton’s 60th birthday. Let us remember Fred Hampton and all our brothers and sisters, past and present, who have fallen during the struggle.
As Fred Hampton once said, “You can kill a revolutionary, but you can’t kill the revolution.” The above graphic was originally designed by Black Panther artist Emory Douglas.