International Revolutionary Day: the 40th commemoration of the assassination of Chairman Fred Hampton and Defense Captain Mark Clark of the Black Panther Party
Watch an unforgettable video blending historic footage and photos with coverage of IRD 2009 events
by Minister of Information JR
Two of the martyrs of this movement were Chairman Fred Hampton and Defense Captain Mark Clark of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party, who were both assassinated by the government on Dec. 4, 1969, in the wee hours of the morning on the Westside of Chicago.
In the words of survivor and former Black Panther Akua Njeri, the widow of Chairman Fred, “We must never forgive and never forget!” This is a Q&A I did with Chairman Fred Hampton Jr., son of the assassinated Black Panther leader and Akua, about the importance of preserving the legacy of the Black Panther Party.
M.O.I. JR: There was recently a commemoration of your father, Chairman Fred Hampton, and Defense Captain Mark Clark of the Black Panther Party. What is the importance of the people remembering these two freedom fighters?
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.: First let me say, revolutionary appreciation, Brotha Minister, for giving us the opportunity to update the people on this phenomenal event that just recently convened. As we speak, we are literally four days after the 40th year after acknowledging what we refer to as one of the most brutal acts of terrorism to occur on U.S. soil, what is also known as the “massacre on Monroe.” We are speaking about the day the United States government through the Chicago Police Department came through on a pre-dawn raid and assassinated 21-year-old Chairman Fred and 22-year-old Defense Captain Mark Clark.
Especially at this stage in the game and at this time, it is extremely relevant that we stress the importance of revolutionaries and the need and continuous dire need for revolution at a time when there has been an attempt for this government and those that work in the interest of this government to put forward an image that everything is OK now, pointing out such things as Black folks can sit at the front of the bus and certain people are placed in high places, but the conditions in our community are still dire.
We’re still dealing with cases of police terrorism. We still got political prisoners. We’re still dealing with the “we don’t care” health care system and the same issues and positions that such forces as Chairman Fred and Defense Captain Mark Clark (dealt with) and that revolutionary organization, the Black Panther Party, which was one of the most revolutionary organizations that North America has ever witnessed. It is extremely important that we make sure that that legacy remains intact and that we provide an example for freedom fighters past and present alike and in fact in the future.
M.O.I. JR: I know that there were a number of events. I was in Chicago participating. Can you describe to the people what were some of the events surrounding the 40th commemoration of the assassinations?
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.: It was an early start. Annually, we have IRD, International Revolutionary Day, and this is convened every year on Dec. 4. And it is convened by the POCC as well as the December 4th Committee, which is chaired by my mother, comrade Akua Njeri, formerly known as Deborah Johnson, the widow of Chairman Fred.
And usually at 12 o’clock noon, we would go in front of what we refer to as ground zero. We’re not talking about Sept. 11. We’re not talking about New York. We’re talking about that site on the Westside of Chicago where the crime went down. And we do it at 12 o’clock Chicago time. We call on all forces whether they be at some college or university or Attica or Folsom or any other concentration camp in this country or the street corners, wherever they’re at, stop what they’re doing, clenched fist in the air, for a five-minute moment of silence to commemorate the lives of these fallen comrades.
However, this year in particular, with it being the 40th (commemoration), we not only were going to do it at 12 o’clock, we strategically set it for 4:30 a.m. also, symbolically be it the fact that it was a pre-dawn raid and Chicago pigs had came around 4:35 in the morning.
And I’m still stuck. I’m still moved when I think about the amount of people that came out the other day. For those of you who are not in Chicago, Chicago has a history of what is referred to as “the hawk,” extreme wind right off of Lake Michigan. And it is extremely cold around this time, but forces from all walks of life, representatives from the Black Panther Party, locally as well as nationally, came in.
You had forces from other organizations, Pam and Ramona Africa from the MOVE organization. The Last Poets came in. It was phenomenal. You had the people from the street corners. Cha Cha Jimenez of the Young Lords organization, which we know about through Chairman Fred organizing the Rainbow Coalition.
Man, again, just the people in general and organizations. It was a powerful testimony to the people’s undying love for Chairman Fred and Defense Captain Mark Clark and the Black Panther Party in general. I’m still moved by it. I always talk about, we know that the people is going to come through, and the people are going to produce. However, this move early that morning was phenomenal, to say the least.
We reconvened again at 12 o’clock noon, high noon, and forces from various street organizations, which a lot of people refer to as the gangs, but even the people in the street organizations came. The older sistas, the younger brothas were just providing testimony after testimony about how this had an impact on their life, and how important it is to remember and respect the legacies of forces of such caliber.
After the 12 o’clock noon convening, we came back to the Southeast Side of Chicago, and we had panels and several films were shown. There were updates provided from members of our Central Committee, including yourself; we talked about the trumped up case we dealing with, with you, our Minister of Information who is set to go to trial around the case of Oscar Grant.
There was the local coordinator from New Orleans, Coordinator Chui, gave updates about the still dire conditions going down in New Orleans after the situation from Hurricane America, which a lot of people refer to as Hurricane Katrina. We had supportive forces who were just getting on board with the POCC, forces from Dallas, Texas, and Houston. Representatives from D-12, the December 12th Movement, had came in from New York.
M.O.I. JR: I know that (it will soon be) your 40th birthday. You were born a few weeks after the assassinations. What does the number 40 mean this year to you, the Hampton family, the Black Panther Party, as well as the community in general?
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.: I keep up with my age a lot of times with the year in which Chairman Fred and Defense Captain Mark Clark were assassinated. A lot of times I be moving, and one brotha brought to my attention, “If this was 40 years ago, Chairman, that makes you about to be 40 years old.” I was like, man, that’s a helluva reminder.
And I don’t see myself as a real religious cat. I see myself as very spiritual, and I been talking to different brothas and sistas and they’re talkin’ about the whole significance with the whole thing about 40 years and giving different analogies, spiritual scriptures, so on and so forth. I’ve been hearing all types of summations of certain individuals coming to maturity. Certain things are put into their correct context at 40.
What I can say is that year after year of these events, this one was phenomenal for a number of reasons, not only because of the forces that came out, but a number of different contradictions that are being dealt with. We say what Chairman Mao said: Contradictions are needed sometimes, you know what I’m saying, in order to heighten the consciousness level of the people.
But just the growth process that we see that the people are going through – and when I say growth process – exposing and dealing with the question of neo-colonialism and gatekeepers and making a concrete connection.
When I say concrete connection, as opposed to, a lot of times when we commemorate such forces, especially revolutionary forces, there’s an attempt to do it in a abstract type of way and water them down. We see it in the cases, whether it be Malcolm X or Marcus Garvey or any of the forces of such caliber. Some of the same forces that had a disdain or went against these forces, we see these people as representing them and trying to change what they represented.
And so at this stage in the game, truths are being called out. We the people are saying, wait a minute. Some of the same forces – I’m talking about the same individuals – that were attacking the Black Panther Party back then are some of the same forces that exist, and there has been a class peace that has allowed for some of these individuals and characters to grandstand on the graves of some of some of these go-gettaz.
They say, well, I was with them back then – and whether it be through liberalism or due to some forces not being able to sum it up or some forces who are not even around to challenge this, we say OK, well, they were around. Maybe they were for the same thing, but no. We have to be up front. There were contradictions then: Everybody was not on the same line. There was some antagonistic contradictions, and there still remains to be.
And we can’t let our enemies, we can’t let our adversaries or those that work in the interest of our enemies, tell the stories of forces of such caliber, because we have very few – I don’t like to say role models – but real models, people that came from the valley, that came from our situation, and had no aspirations to be on the mountaintop.
So it’s extremely important that we be able to keep these forces in their correct context and provide an example for the rest of those who are coming up in the valley that’s saying, how do I deal with this situation of police terrorism? How do these forces that were cut from my cloth, how did they deal with the “we don’t care” health situation? How do they deal with state sanctioned spokespersons always trying to speak for them? How did this organization speak and fight in its own interest?
M.O.I. JR: Last but not least, can you give us an update on POCC Minister of Defense Aaron Patterson?
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.: Our Minister of Defense, the People’s Minister of Defense Aaron Patterson is remaining strong. We want to definitely encourage forces to make sure that they stay in contact with Aaron Patterson. They could go to myspace.com/freeaaronpatterson. And this comrade – though held captive, as many of our listeners who are familiar with the case, due to a trumped up charge, he was sentenced to 30 years and behind enemy lines, still locked up – this comrade played a key role with making sure that the legacy of Chairman Fred was preserved and kept intact.
I mean everything from having people on the street contact us and pulling a last minute stunt, even to the point of making sure that a cake with the picture of Chairman Fred and Defense Captain Mark Clark had gotten to the event. He was getting different brothas in the camps to send solidarity statements. This brotha is still working, still got his head up, and we want to make sure that the people got his back.
Get up on that myspace and get those correspondences to our Minister of Defense, and the campaign to free Aaron Patterson remains live and strong. But you know, it’s what Minister Huey P. Newton said, that a revolutionary is never satisfied. So with that being said, we want to up the ante and increase the heat and put the people pressure that our Minister of Defense, the People’s Minister of Defense is back in the streets, back with the people where he belongs.
M.O.I. JR: Can you give the people some contact information on how they could get in contact with you?
Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.: Yes indeed. The phone number is (773) 256-9451. The mailing address is POCC, P.O. Box 368255, Chicago, Illinois, 60636. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. And definitely keep updated with the campaigns and the work that we’ve been doing through blockreportradio.com, sfbayview.com and myspace.com/chairmanfredpart_2.
And I know there’s a lot of information that I neglected to put out. Like I said, I’m still soaking it in. So please keep updated with us. We’re going to be giving updates because this is an ever-developing campaign.
And I just also want to put out that due to popular demand the tour that we previously engaged in, the tour entitled “You Can Kill a Revolutionary, But You Can’t Kill the Revolution,” was set to conclude this Dec. 4. However, due to popular demand the tour is going to continue. And please put the word out for people to contact us on how they could get us up there.
Fred Hampton & Mark Clark – 40th Anniversary of the Assassination – Chicago, IL
This outstanding video was produced by Chicago Independent Television, the monthly television series of the Chicago Independent Media Center.