It has become THE go to question used for defense when an issue of police brutality and the African American community arises, say it with me: what about Chicago? That city unfortunately has become the poster child of Black-on-Black violence. By the nature of the question if a solution to quell the problems there will remedy all the aliments of the African American community nationally. Suppose, however, the City WAS the key to the problems of the African American plight and 55 years ago brothers figured that out and enacted a plan to test the hypothesis? Could things have been different? Another hypothetical that adversely affected our future. Here’s what we do know, in November 1968, Fred Hampton, joined the newly minted Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and immediately established a presence. Amongst his moves were reaching out to other groups to curtail violent confrontations and to unite to fight common causes (poverty, police brutality, substandard housing et al). This wasn’t restricted to Black gangs, but a multitude of ethnicities resulting in the creation of what was called the Rainbow Coalition. That work was secondary to the MAIN focus of empowering, protecting and teaching our own. An outgrowth initiative aimed to provide a necessity of life was the Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast Program. For the FBI that was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. In their eye’s it was a method to indoctrinate children and as a result the Bureau instructed their field representatives to, “formulate specific counterintelligence techniques to disrupt this nefarious activity.” That language sealed the fate of Fred Hampton. Feeling a little of the heat Hampton was once quoted saying, “I don’t know if I like communism, and I don’t know if I like socialism. But I know that the Breakfast for Children Program feeds my kids. And if you put your hands on that Breakfast for Children Program . . .”
In a recent interview with the news website TheGrio, Black Panther Party co-founder of the Illinois chapter (also serving as Minister of Defense) and current U.S. Representative for Illinois’s 1st Congressional District, Bobby Lee Rush surmised of his colleagues’ demise, “Fred Hampton’s assassination was the only assassination that was planned, approved and implemented by the government. The ONLY state-sanctioned assassination of an American citizen for a political reason on the soil of this nation. Abraham Lincoln, the Kennedy’s (Bobby or John), Malcom X or Dr. King were not state sanctioned. Fred Hampton’s was planned by the director of the FBI, with the full cooperation of the Cook County’s states attorney and the Chicago Police Department.”
With the release of the film “Judas and the Black Messiah” there should be an uptick in the interest of the people and the era depicted. I suggest you run to see the excellent film, but don’t stop there, let’s make it a movement like we did with the release of Malcom X. Scour YouTube and other streaming devices for some of the documentaries on the Black Panther Party and the COINTELPRO program. Consume as much reading materials as you can get your hands on. Understand the cycle, understand systemic racism; understand the anger and you’ll understand what’s happening in Chicago! We got work to do and it’s all hands on deck.
“We ain’t gonna fight no reactionary pigs who run up and down the street being reactionary; we’re gonna organize and dedicate ourselves to revolutionary political power and teach ourselves the specific needs of resisting the power structure, arm ourselves, and we’re gonna fight reactionary pigs with INTERNATIONAL PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION. That’s what it has to be. The people have to have the power: it belongs to the people.”
Over and out. Holla next week. Til then, enjoy the nightlife.