The Son Of Revolutionary Activists Keep Father’s Legacy Alive
By Tia Carol Jones
Fred Hampton’s 73rd Birthday would have been August 30. Hampton, the Chairman of Illinois’ Chapter of the Black Panther Party was assassinated on Dec. 4, 1969. There has been a concerted effort to make the Hampton’s childhood home in Maywood, Ill., a historical landmark.
Fred Hampton, Jr., Chairman of the Black Panther Party Cubs, has been working to keep his father’s story in the forefront. Hampton, Jr. describes his father as someone people could relate to and as a servant of the people.
“I feel fortunate to have fallen from the tree of two freedom fighters, Chairman Fred Hampton and also Akua Njeri, formerly known as Deborah Johnson,” he said. “We say the legacy of Chairman Fred and the legacy of the Black Panther Party is a tough act to follow but we attempt to not walk in their footsteps, but in their Black Panther paw steps.”
Hampton, Jr. and the Black Panther Cubs have a Children Community and Cubs program that is patterned after the Black Panther Breakfast Program. There also is the Free ‘Em All Radio, hosted by Hampton, Jr., and Robin Allen who is also known as Lady of Rage, and the Black Panther Party Newspaper. The newspaper covers issues of miseducation in the Black community, inadequate health care and police brutality.
The petition drive to have the Hampton House recognized as a historical landmark began on Chairman Fred’s Birthday. It is an ongoing process and like other campaigns for the Hampton House it started from the ground up. Recently, a lawmaker from New York City inquired how he can get involved in the campaign. Even with the support, it has been a struggle to get people to invest in this, and other campaigns.
The plan is to submit the forms and petition on the 55th anniversary of the Black Panther Party, October 15. Hampton, Jr. is hopeful that the Hampton House will become a historical landmark. Hampton has heard from parents of students who attend the school across the street from Hampton House that those students have a sense of pride at going to the same school as Chairman Fred Hampton. “The legacy of Chairman Fred remains in tact in the hearts and minds of the people,” he said.
The work at Hampton House is being done strategically, given COVID-19 and its impact on hosting tours and facilitating programs. During the Polar Vortex the Hampton House served as a warming center. The programs that take place there are based on the needs of the people. “It’s bigger than a building and more significant than a structure,” Hampton, Jr. said.
Hampton, Jr. believes though Maywood is a small place geographically, it represents a political giant. It is the birthplace and location for the leadership of the largest chapter of the Black Panther Party.
Each year, there is a celebration of Chairman Fred Hampton’s Birthday, a Streetz Party. Hampton, Jr., thinks no one should be deprived of the legacy of his father.
“We see the impact, whether it be artists, whether it be various street organizations and college campuses, the before and after of just being familiar with the legacy of Chairman Fred Hampton,” he said.
Hampton, Jr. said with the movie, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” there were revolutionary leaps and bounds, with a lot of “Panther Cub political pills in the apple sauce.” He described the producers and cast as a dream team.
“Even though it was a movie, there was more legitimate information placed in there than a lot of these unauthorized, bogus books that have been put out about Chairman Fred,” he said, adding that there is a correlating curriculum. “The movie is still being used to educate, inform and win people on the legacy of Chairman Fred Hampton.”