Fred Hampton, ¡presente!

Fred Hampton

Dec. 4 marked the 47th anniversary of the cowardly assassination of Fred Hampton, the state chairperson of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in Chicago. The dynamic, 21-year-old leader was shot multiple times — as he lay sleeping in his bed — by the Chicago police at the behest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterintelligence program. Cointelpro, founded by the notorious FBI director, J. Edgar Hoover, targeted the BPP for extermination using various tactics of infiltration, jailings and assassinations. Mark Clark, another BPP member, was also murdered in that police attack.

Hampton’s partner, Deborah Johnson, aka Akua Njeri, who survived the attack, was eight months pregnant at the time. Their son, Fred Hampton Jr., is a prominent leader in Chicago’s Black community.

Hampton was not only highly respected by BPP members around the country but also admired by the movement, as he promoted a broad united front of organizations in the struggle against racism, capitalism and imperialism. His death brought tens of thousands into the streets carrying banners like that of the then mass organization of Workers World Party, Youth Against War and Fascism, saying “Avenge the death of Chairman Fred!” It was Hampton who declared, “You can kill a revolutionary but you can’t kill a revolution.”