Shortly before his assassination Fred Hampton prophetically pointed out, “I believe I’m going to die doing the things I was born to do. I believe I’m going to die high off the people. I believe I’m going to die a revolutionary in the international revolutionary proletarian struggle.”
December 4th 2009 marks the 40th Anniversary of the assassinations of Fred Hampton; the Chairman of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Mark Clark of the Peoria Ill. Chapter. Unfortunately, Hampton’s predication came true.
The story of the murders of Hampton and Clark can be found in a new volume “The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther”, by Jeffrey Haas. This work is published by Lawrence Hill Books and is available at A Different Book List, Knowledge and your better book stores.
Hampton had made one of his last speeches in Regina, Sask. only a week earlier. This was Hampton only visit outside the United States. He came to the University of Regina and spoke to students and the labour movement. Ironically, El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) made only one visit to Canada. He did an interview with the CBC and visited the home of Austin and Betty Clarke on Asquith Street.
Hampton said he came to Canada to garner support for Chairman Bobby Seale. He also was quoted in an interview saying, “I think also that we’ll see a lot more repression here in Canada. I think that with a lot more people waking up, there’ll be more repression — of Indians and of all progressive forces in Canada.”
This quote is from the Prairie Fire, Regina, Sask., a progressive Regina weekly newspaper that was printed from 1969 until 1971. The Praire Fire devoted a great deal of ink to Hampton. The Nov. 25-Dec. 2 , 1969 issue ran an editorial about how Hampton and two other BPP members were harassed by Canadian Immigration officials, discussed in the House of Commons and severely attacked by the Leader Post , a Regina daily on its editorial page. In the same issue of the Praire Fire an article, “Panthers Outline Program” an exclusive was granted to the publication.
DON’T MOURN – ORGANIZE! , a quote from the great Joe Hill a leader of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), also known as the Wobblies) jumped out at you from the pages of P Fire. The editorial ended with this quote, “Chairman Fred Hampton’s name now joins the list of the many people who have died in fighting for the rights of their people.
The last article, “In Memory Of Fred Hampton” discussed a memorial torchlight parade for Hampton. The story ended with a powerful quote from Labour, “George Smith, president of the Regina Labour Council, expressed his solidarity with the Panthers, especially their efforts to put socialism into practice with hot breakfast programs and free medical clinics.
“He said many people in Canada and U.S. are left to die slow deaths by malnutrition and poverty, and that these deaths are just as much the result of our social system as deaths by gunfire which Blacks and Indians meet every day.”
“Many more will die before the fight is won, but the struggle for a more progressive social system will continue”.
Ten years ago the African Liberation Month Coalition and CKLN-FM 88.1 FM organized a screening of the 1971 film “The Murder of Fred Hampton” at the Bloor Cinema. The inspiration came from Barry Lipton who made a tape of Hampton’s last speech available to me. The tape was played on CKLN.
Lipton was one of the organizers of the Sask. event. Carm, Paul and their father Corrado made the Bloor Cinema available to us for more than a reasonable price which solved the venue question. Liam Lacey an old friend of mine did a half a page article on the film in the Globe and Mail. This did nothing by help us fill the place. Njeri supplied the film and we were in business.
It was Hampton who put forth the concept of the Rainbow Coalition first. The concept was later picked up and popularized by Jesse Jackson. Akua Njeri pointed out in her book, “My Life With The Black Panther Party”, “Fred Hampton was the originator of the concept of the Rainbow Coalition. He was the first person to come up with that concept in 1969. That was an effort to educate and politicize other poor and oppressed people throughout this world. He worked with and attempted to politicize the young patriots organization, which was a group of Appalachian whites in the near north area of Chicago, politicizing them and organizing them to recognize the leadership of the black revolution, the vanguard party, the Black Panther Party, and to work in their communities against this huge monster we had to deal with, which is racism.”
Hampton continues to inspire singers, players of instruments and hip hop artists. Ernest Dawkins recorded “A Black Op’era” dedicated to Chairman Fred Hampton live in Paris on January 13, 2006. The CD was written as a fig leaf of healing Akua Njeri, Fred Hampton, Jr., the family, friends and comrades of Chairman Fred Hampton. Njeri and Hampton Jr. were honoured guests at the Sons d’hiver festival when this piece was recorded. Hampton is sampled heavy by dead prez on their debut CD, “Let’s Get Free”. M1 and stick man are currently working with Fred Hampton Jr.
Hampton once opined , “If you’re afraid of socialism you are afraid of yourself”. The vision of Hampton and Clark and the progressive forces around the world are alive and well in Latin America.