On Wednesday, June 12, 2013, the History Club Committee of Faraday School held it’s first annual history event, honoring Chairman Fred Hampton Sr. The History Club also shared numerous display boards of historical leaders who laid a strong foundation for future generations. Students of the Faraday History Club shared a powerful documentary they created, commemorating the life and death of this great Black Panther Party leader (BPP). According to their teacher, Ms. Sanders, the students spent over six months preparing this documentary and event. During the six month period, they had the opportunity to interview former Alderman, Mr. Wallace Davis, Attorney J. Wilson, and former Black Panther, Ms. Erica Huggins. Each provided the students with their experiences with the Black Panther Party, its’ Illinois leader, Chairman Fred Hampton Sr., and the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties.
The highlight of this event was the appearance of two key individuals in the life of Chairman Fred Hampton Sr. The students welcomed Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. and his mother, Akua Njeri, who was 8 months pregnant with him during his father’s death. Chairman Hampton further educated the students on the purpose and mission of the Black Panther Party in the sixties as well as shared various accounts of his father’s leadership, successes, obstacles, and assassination. He spoke of the importance of knowledge and education. He told students about how his father led the free breakfast program on the west side of Chicago; held political education classes daily; worked with the BPP Peoples’ Clinic; and was an instrumental leader of the Non-aggression Pact which led to positive collaboration of Chicago’s most powerful street gangs.
J.Edgar Hoover, former director of the FBI, called the BPP ‘the greatest threat to the internal security of the country.’ He reportedly feared the image, strength, and message of the Black Panther Movement. According to Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., his father displayed natural leadership abilities as young as the age of 14 when he grew the Youth Council of the NAACP from 7 to over 300 members in approximately seven months. He also felt the need to clarify as he educated the students. He stated: “The Black Panther Party was a revolution, not a racist organization. Its’ focus was survival not charity.”
So, what did students learn about the life and death of Chairman Fred Hampton Sr. and the fragile nature of the sixties as it relates to modern day? The History Club of Michael Faraday School, along with guest, learned the following:
- Fred Hampton Sr. was an African American activist and Deputy Chairman of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP).
- The BPP was founded for self-defense against police brutality and murder of black people, inflicted by a predominantly white department in the sixties.
- They learned the many accomplishments of Chairman Fred Hampton Sr.
- Chairman Hampton was a visible force of the Black Panther Party during the Civil Rights Era.
- Chairman Hampton was born August 30, 1948, and was assassinated on Dec 4, 1969, while sleeping in his apartment on the 2300 block of West Monroe Street. He reportedly lost his life during a raid by a tactical unit in collaboration with the Cook County Illinois State’s Attorney’s Office, CPD, and the FBI (www.chicagotribune.com, 1969).
Finally, students were encouraged to use historical knowledge, not for negative aggression and anger, but for the purpose of self-assessing within ones’ family unit and communities as it relates to behavior, mentality, and self-destructive actions. They were left with the charge to be advocates of growth and development, and vessels of political awareness towards change.