Date: Sun, 25 Jan 1998 22:50:01 -0500
On the Relevance of Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party
From Crsn@aol.com, 25 January 1998
We have a bad habit of taking one day out of the year to commemorate the lives of outstanding individuals such as Fred Hampton. Very seldom do We set aside time to reflect upon the achievements of important institutions such as the Black Panther Party (BPP). We should now begin to break bad habits. This is especially necessary when We need to use the examples set by heroic individuals and ground-breaking institutions to help inspire and guide our youth, and to represent, for the entire community, certain standards of service and commitment.
Each of us have children and young adults in our families who know (or knew) little or nothing about people like James Forman, Fannie Lou Hamer, Monroe Trotter...
Each of us knows young adults who've never seen pictures of Ida B. Wells, W.E.B. DuBois, Rosa Parks...
Each of us have been asked questions regarding the deeds of individuals and organizations, the failures and accomplishments of previous stages of struggle, which further confirm the need to use the past as a weapon of struggle... (1)
The life of Fred Hampton should be used by us -- each day of the year to help show our youth that they can make positive contributions to the social, political, and economic development of our communities, no matter how young they are.
Fred Hampton was politically active as a fourteen-year-old high school student. Today, there are hundreds of fourteen-year olds who will be inspired to follow Fred's example -- if they are made aware of it, and shown the esteem with which the community holds his life and work.
Many of us who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s tend not to realize that the meaning of those years is largely lost to and for sizeable segments of New Afrikan youth and the masses. To the extent that many of our youth do consider these years, they look upon them as "ancient history" -- seemingly unconnected and irrelevant to their present circumstances, needs and aspirations. And, those who have a greater sense of the connections and relevance of the past to the present, are hard put to find (or rather, to be found by), the sources that will provide an interpretation of the past that's consistent with the nationalist revolutionary tradition, and with the practical efforts to build revolutionary institutions and organizations; to re-build the national revolutionary movement; to realize the independence and socialist development of the Nation. (2)
One simple way of introducing Fred and the Black Panther Party to Afrikan youth is to use the example of the Breakfast for Children program that was established by the Party. Children across the u.s. are now served breakfast and lunch in public schools only because Fred and the BPP did it first! And, they did it for reasons not all of which are shared by the u.s. public school system -- and this, too, must be pointed out.
The concept and reality of a "Rainbow Coalition" didn't originate with Jesse Jackson. Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party built a "Rainbow Coalition" in Chicago in the 1960s -- a coalition composed of Afrikan, Latino, and white organizations (The BPP, the Young Lords, the Young Patriots, SDS). Could We use such a coalition in Chicago and throughout the u.s. today? Yes -- and the example set by Fred can help us build it.
New Afrikan people -- but especially our youth -- have no meaningful sense of the continuity of the Nation's social and revolutionary development. Those of us with the responsibility to inspire and direct such development have been negligent. We have failed to build, preserve, and pass on a movement that provides a militant, patriotic (New Afrikan) framework from which our children would acquire the proper understanding of prior contributions and stages of struggle... (3)
Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party also set an example for our efforts to re-direct the energies of "street gangs". Alliances had been formed between the BPP and such street organizations as the Blackstone Rangers, the Disciples, the Vice Lords, and others. This alliance was very threatening to Chicago officials and to the u.s. government, and they combined their forces to undermine the alliance and to attack the Party and each of the youth organizations. (4)
The New Afrikan Independence Movement must demonstrate that the problems and future of our youth [are among] its priorities. We must work to claim the curiosity, imagination, and attention of our youth. We must begin to provide national revolutionary outlets for their energy, creativity, and intelligence, with programs that are inspired by their most immediate needs and interests... (5)
We don't have to look hard in order to find many other individuals who have qualities that should be emulated by us. The programs of the Black Panther Party (e.g., health clinics, clothing for poor people, sickle cell anemia testing) can be used not only to inspire similar programs today, but they can be used to inspire a similar sensitivity to the needs of the people, and a similar spirit of commitment to a revolutionary nationalist theoretical framework and strategic objective.
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
The Spear and Shield Collective
1. "Notes on the Transition of the 'Black Liberation' Phrase, Concept and Movement," Vita Wa Watu, Bk. Eight, January, 1986, p. 13.
2. Ibid., p. 15.
3. Ibid., p. 16.
4. See: "Counter-Intelligence Against the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party," Dan Stern, Vita Wa Watu, Bk. Eleven, pp. 24-30.
5. Op. cit., p. 16. reprinted from CROSSROAD, Vol 4 #3 Spear & Shield Publications 1340 West Irving Park Rd., Suite 108 Chicago, IL 60613
Black Panther Party - Bibliography
A Panther Is a Black Cat
Articles"Sundiata's Freedom Is Your Freedom", Sundiata Acoli Freedom Campaign
"The Black Panther Party & Political Prisoners", Herman Bell. CROSSROAD, Vol 3 #1 (ca. 1989)
"Coming of Age", Safiya Bukhari. Notes From a New Afrikan P.O.W. Journal, Bk 7: Spear & Shield Publications
"On the Question of Political Prisoners", Safiya Bukhari. CROSSROAD, Vol. 5 #4 (Jan-mar, 1995)
"Who Killed Huey P. Newton?", Ajamu Chaminuka. CROSSROAD, Vol. 3 #1 (ca. 1989)
"Three Speeches by Fred Hampton". Vita Wa Watu: A New Afrikan Theoretical Journal, Book Eleven (August 1987)
"COUNTERINTELLIGENCE Against The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party", Dan Stern. Vita Wa Watu: A New Afrikan Theoretical Journal, Book Eleven
"Why I Mourned The Death of Huey P. Newton", Kiilu Nyasha. CROSSROAD, Vol. 3 #1
"On the Relevance of Fred Hampton & Mark Clark", Spear & Shield Collective. CROSSROAD, Vol. 4 #3 (Winter 1992)
"Carry On the Tradition: In The Spirit of Fred Hampton & Mark Clark", Committee of PP/POW's. Notes From a New Afrikan P.O.W. Journal, Bk 7: Spear & Shield Publications
"All Power To The People"