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Hampton celebrated in life
and death

Forty years after the slaying of Fred Hampton,
leader of the Black Panther Party, residents
gather to carry on his legacy.

ANDREA BACON
Intern Reporter
September 17, 2009

MAYWOOD |  “He was an activist for and
before his time,” said Justice Shelvin Louise
Marie Hall on Saturday at the Fred Hampton
Aquatic Center in Maywood.
 
Hampton, who was raised in Maywood and
attended Proviso East High School, was
gunned down in his home by Chicago police
during a raid at the Black Panther Party
headquarters on Chicago’s West Side.
 
The Chicago Panther Party emerged on the
city’s West Side in the autumn of 1968 as one
of 45 Black Panther chapters around the
country.  The “Illinois Chapter” gained over
300 new members within four months of its
founding because many young black
Chicagoans identified with the Panthers’
militant denunciations of racism, capitalism,
and police brutality.  Fred Hampton was at the
helm of the Panther Party of Chicago.
 
This year marks the 40th anniversary of
Hampton’s assassination.  Following his death,
Reverend Jesse Jackson and Dr. Ralph
Abernathy founded a scholarship fund in his
memory.  Hampton’s brother and mother, who
still reside in Maywood, act as President and
Treasurer.  The Fred Hampton Memorial
Legal Assistance Fund is awarded annually to
students in Illinois who intend to pursue a
career in law, as Hampton did before his life
was cut short.  
 
“He wanted us to boycott our senior prom…he
stood alone on that one,” Hall said jokingly,
recalling Hampton as a teen, who challenged
the school district because of the disparities
among black and white athletes.  Hampton
was upset that black athletes at Proviso East
were not required to obtain academic
standards, and as a result oftentimes did not
graduate or have the credentials to attend
college.
 
Other speakers in attendance included Jose
“Cha Cha” Jimenez, founder of the Young
Lords, a latino organization patterned after the
Black Panthers.  “We need to change the
perception of Fred,” said Jimenez at the
celebration.  “He wanted the people in power,
[the people] to stand up for them selves,” he
continued.
 
Kathleen Cleaver, former secretary of
communications for the BPP, added how
important she felt it was for young people to
understand Hampton’s story.  

“I remember that Fred wanted to go to law
school...to pursue a career in law,” said
Cleaver.  “It is important for young people to
understand what they can do”.
 
A former NAACP activist, Hampton established
and supervised many youth programs in
Maywood and on the West Side of Chicago,
including a summer program at Irving
Elementary, a breakfast program for low-
income children, and a free clinic.
 
Hampton is also survived by his son, Fred
Hampton, Jr. who was born weeks after
Hampton’s death.  

Hampton Jr. was President of the National
People’s Democratic Uhuru Movement,
founded by Omali Yeshitela.  In 1992 he was
incarcerated for two charges of aggravated
arson, and spent nine years in prison, before
being released in 2001.  He is currently the
President and Chair of Prisoners of
Conscience whose agenda is “to liberate the
hearts and minds of African and colonized
people.”
 
Other parts of the three day event included a
welcoming ceremony, and a feature of the
play “Choices” at Proviso East High School.
Fred Hampton