University of Maryland Nyumburu Cultural Center

 

 

Fred Hampton


Fred Hampton

 

Summary

HFred Hampton was a famous African-American political activist whol lived amidst the Civil Rights Movement. Hampton was born on August 30, 1948 in Chicago Illinois. He grew on Maywood, Illinois, a suburb just west of the city. His parents moved north from Louisiana and both held jobs at the Agro Starch Company. In his youth years, Hampton was gifted in both the classroom and on the atheletic field. He attended Proviso East Hight School in Maywood. Even at a young age, Hampton started to notice racial problems in his high shcool. He spoke out against the fact that most of the failing students were Black and nothing was being done to help them. Also, only white students were chosen for things sich as homecoming king and queen. Hampton protested against that and the next year , Black students were invoolved in such activities as well. Hampton was very well respected. He left such a legacy at Provsio that his principle requested his help to calm racial tensions even after he graduated.

Upon graduation from Proviso, Hampton enrolled at Triton Juinor College where he studied law. He studied law as defense against police brutality aimed at the Black community. While attending Triton, he joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. In his early years with NAACP, he was the leader of the youth council of the west suburban branch. He was able to gather a youth group of 500 members stron. While with the NAACP, he worked to get better recreational facilities and too improve educational resources for the Black Community.

Around the same time that Hampton was involved with the NAACP, the Black Panther Party had started to emerge. They were opening chapters across the country. Hampton was quickly attarcted to the Black Panther Party because of their approach and new dominance in the Black Liberation Struggle. He joined the chapter in downtown Chicago, and then joined the Illinois chapter in November of 1968. During his time with the Black Panthers, Hampton brokered a nonaggressive pact between Chicago's most powerful street gangs, organized weekly rallies, worked in the Black Panther's People's Clinic, taught political education classes, launched a project for the community supervision of the police, and helped with the Black Panther's Free Breakfast Program. By this time Hampton had already held leadership positions with the Black Panthers and was working his way up. He started as the leader of the Chicago chapter, then became Chairman of the Illinois state Black Panther Party. He was in line to become the Central Committee Chief of the staff but was unable to do so because of his assassination.

Fred Hampton died on December 4,1969. He was assassinated by police in his Chicago apartment. The events surrounding his death are highly controversial. Hampton's death was the result of extensive research done by FBI. He was seen as a major threat because he impressed many people who he came in contact with and was viewed as and effective leader and talented communicatior. The FBI chief, J. Edgar Hoover, was determined to stop any formation of a strong Black radical coalition. The FBI started on a file on Hampton in 1967. During the next two years, that file had expanded to twelve volumes and over four thousand pages. They documented, traced , and recorded his every move. THey even went so far as to put a wiretap on Hampton's mother's phone in 1968. In late 1968, the Racial Matter unit of the FBI's Chicago base brought in a man named William O'Neal. O'Neal had been arrested twice. In exchange for dropping the charges against him and a monthly stipend, he agreed to infiltrate the Black Panther Party as a counterintelligence operative. The FBI and O'Neal worked to split up any alliances that the Black panther's had. Their mission was top destroy what the Black Panther Party stood for, and " eradicatie is serve" the people programs". O'Neal gained more and more trust from the Black Panthers but was constantly reporting back to the FBI. In November of 1969,Hampton travelled to Californiafor a national Black Panther Party meetings, where he was offered a postion on the centeral. Commitee as the chief of staff. While hampton was out of town two Chicago police officers were killed in a gun battle with the Black Panthers on the November 13th. Nine police officers were shot, and another was charged with murder. After this encounter, the FBI prganized an arms raid on Hampton's apartment. On the evening of december 3rd , o" neal slipped a powerful barbiturate sleep agane into Hampton's drink. At apporximately 4:00 am, the police raided his apartment . Hampton was shot twice at point black range and Killed.

 

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