Fred Hampton: "You can jail a revolutionary, but you can't jail a revolution the revolution. You can run a freedom fighter around the country but you can't run freedom fighting around the country. You can murder a liberator but you can't murder liberation."
Fred Hampton was born on this day in 1948, in Summit, Illinois. He would die 21 years young - assassinated by Chicago police with two point-blank shots to the back of his head - some 15 miles from where he first opened his eyes. Hampton's childbearing fiancée Deborah Johnson, who was lying next to her partner when police first fired through the bedroom door, recalled how the officers smiled and declared Hampton “good and dead" after the execution. At the time of his assassination Hampton was chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party and reportedly working to strengthen ties between the BPP and white and Latino youth and workers - a move towards class solidarity in the face of race divisions that terrified (as all such unity movements do) the ruling class state (at the time led by J. Edgar Hoover and Richard Nixon).
The year of his death, Chairman Fred gave a speech – Power Anywhere Where There’s People - at Olivet Baptist Church in Chicago, in which he spoke of working class solidarity across the ruling class' racial divisions in the fight against capitalism. Declared Hampton, his powerful voice surely echoing throughout the room:
We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I'm talking about the white masses, I'm talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too. We've got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don't fight racism with racism. We're gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don't fight capitalism with no black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.
Little has changed since the state killed Chairman Fred. Chicago police still free to murder with impunity, as demonstrated most egregiously by the 16 shots fired into the body of Laquan McDonald and the response of the Democrats in covering up the killing.
The struggle continues. Long live the spirit of Fred Hampton. And in his words, "Peace to you, if you're willing to fight for it."