Fred Hampton, a prominent figure in Black History, would have been 71 years old this year on August 30th had he not been murdered by the F.B.I and Chicago police department.
As an intelligent grade school child and future law student, Hampton’s earliest connections to activism were with the National Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Hampton would later transition his involvement in Black American activism to join the Black Panthers who had already been active for a few years prior.
The Black Panthers were a political organization initiated by Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seal. The organization challenged police brutality while also supporting the black community through emphasizing black pride and funding social programs.
With the assasination of Martin Luther King in 1968 and the imprisonment of Huey Newton the following year, Hampton stepped into the role of the Black Panthers leader. The loss of King and Newton shifted the Black Panthers mission to become more radical. Under Hampton’s leadership, the group began to center their focus around racism and ceasing capitalism from a more militant standpoint.
Hampton’s biggest accomplishments as a 21-year old Black Panther leader was becoming a member of the Party’s Central Committee as Chief of Staff. Hampton is also known for initiating a peace agreement amongst rival gangs in a local Chicago area. Black Americans, Italians, and Latino’s were all united through Hampton’s efforts despite respective gang affiliations.
The influence of a political group with a mass following would soon command the attention of the FBI, State Attorney’s Office, and Chicago police department. In an attempt to discover threatening motives, a paid informant working with the FBI was hired to spy on Hampton and the Black Panthers. Although it was reported from the informant that the organization “fed hungry school children”, the positive notions did nothing to fit the hate driven agenda the FBI hoped to perpetuate.
Eventually, the Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, was able to obtain the information needed in conducting the ideal “sting” operation on the Black Panthers. The informant provided Hoover with a map which led to a series of illegal weapons.
The FBI was able to execute their plan of raiding Hampton’s apartment in search of the weapons in question. Hampton was killed on impact as the FBI fired 100 rounds of bullets into the apartment.
Even when proven to be one of the most illegal raids in American history to date, Hampton’s legacy still relies in his dedication to black people and his focus for social change. Although only living to be in his early 20s, his mark in Black history is worth being honored.
Happy belated birthday Fred Hampton… and Rest In Peace !