Black HIStory: Fred Hampton

Fred Hampton (b. August 30, 1948 – d. December 4, 1969)

Today’s entry is very near and dear to me, civil rights activist and Black Panther Party member Fred Hampton. The reason for me being so emotionally invested in this entry is brought on by the cause Hampton stood for and the manner in which he died for that cause.

On December 4th, 1969 “at about 1:30 a.m., Hampton fell asleep in mid-sentence talking to his mother on the telephone. A drink consumed by Hampton during the earlier dinner was subsequently found to have been laced with the powerful barbiturate, secobarbitol, a sleep agent allegedly provided to O’Neal [a mole placed in the Black Panther Party] by the FBI to sedate Hampton so that he would not awaken during the subsequent raid…”

At 4:45, they stormed in the apartment. Mark Clark, who had been in a front room with a shotgun in his lap, was killed instantly after firing off a single round; the only shot the Panthers fired. The automatic gunfire converged at the head of the bedroom where Hampton slept. He was laying in the bedroom with his pregnant girlfriend.” Two officers found him wounded in the shoulder, and fellow Black Panther Harold Bell reported that he heard the following exchange:

“That’s Fred Hampton.”

“Is he dead?… Bring him out.”

“He’s barely alive; he’ll make it.”

Two shots were heard, which it was later discovered were fired point blank in Hampton’s head. According to Deborah Johnson, one officer then said:

“He’s good and dead now.”

“Hampton’s body was dragged into the doorway of the bedroom and left in a pool of blood. The officers then directed their gunfire towards the remaining Panthers, who were hiding in another bedroom. They were wounded, then beaten and dragged into the street, where they were arrested on charges of aggravated assault and the attempted murder of the officers. They were each held on US$100,000 bail.”

This is what Modern Day America does to revolt. Hampton was no common street thug, he was a stellar student and gifted athlete. He studied pre-law at Triton Junior College “to become more familiar with the law, using it as a defense against police.” As a youth he helped improve educational resources in his hometown of Maywood, Illinois and later he helped broker a nonaggression pact between Chicago’s most powerful street gangs.

Fred Hampton was a champion among African-Americans everywhere and he was murdered at the tender age of 21. In his eulogy, Jesse Jackson noted that “when Fred was shot in Chicago, black people in particular, and decent people in general, bled everywhere.” He loved his people so much that he was willing to die for our freedom. A young lion in the midst of an unforgiving war, he gave everything he had… including his life.

Here is partial footage of an interview in which Hampton took place in:

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