Wednesday, December 04, 2013


Forty-four years ago today, I heard the news of the police murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark in Chicago.  As stunning as the news was, it wasn't.  After all Panthers were being attacked, killed, and jailed across the country in those days.  Still, this one was somehow different.  This was so obviously a hit aimed at a man who was, who could have been the most "dangerous" man in America if he were allowed to live.  He could have been our version of Che, maybe he was anyway.  He spoke to young black Americans like nobody else.  He spoke to all of us like me, too.  They had to kill him.  They killed him.  They did not kill the Revolution, but they sure as hell wounded it.  Two young black men assassinated in Chicago.  Such was life in 1969.   All of us who were in the struggle then, all of us, of all races have our own thoughts and memories about that day.  I won't take up space with my thoughts.  Here are a few thoughts of others.  There are many, many more.

From Sons of Malcolm


Fred Hampton: Martyr of the Liberation Struggle

Fred Hampton (August 30, 1948 – December 4, 1969) was an
activist and deputy chairman of the Illinois chapter of the
Black Panther Party (BPP). He was murdered in his apartment
by the the Chicago Police Department and the Federal Bureau
of Investigation.

He was drugged and brutally killed at the age of 21 for
being one of the most effective upcoming leaders and
organisers of the Black Panthers. Panther Mark Clark was
also killed in the same attack.

This is how Mutulu Shakur (Tupac's Step-Dad, still in
prison today) recounts that day: "Fred Hampton and several
Party members including William O'Neal
came home to the BPP Headquarters after a political
education class. O'Neal volunteered to make the group
dinner. He slipped a large dose of secobarbital in Fred's
kool-aid and left the apartment around 1:30am, a little
while later, Fred fell asleep. Around 4:30am on December 4,
1969 the heavily armed Chicago Police attacked the
Panthers' apartment. They entered the apartment by kicking
the front door down and then shooting Mark Clark pointblank
in the chest. Clark was sleeping in the living room with a
shotgun in his hand. His reflexes responded by firing one
shot at the police before he died. That bullet was then
discovered to be the only shot fired at the police by the
Panthers. Their automatic gunfire entered through the walls
of Fred and his pregnant girlfriend's room. Fred was shot
in the shoulder. Then two officers entered the bedroom and
shot Fred at pointblank in his head to make sure that he
was dead, and no longer a so-called menace to society. It
has been said that one officer stated, "he's good and dead
now." The officers then dragged Fred's body out of his
bedroom and again open fired on the members in the
apartment. The Panthers were then beaten and dragged across
the street where they were arrested on charges of attempted
murder of the police and aggravated assault. The incident
also wounded four other Panther members."

One of the most important achievements of Brother Fred was
the brokering of a peace pact between Chicago's gangs and
the recruitment of some of them into the Panthers. He also
developed an alliance for struggle with gangs and other
progressive forces in the city which he coined the 'rainbow
coalition', a term and concept Jesse Jackson later
appropriated. He continues to be an inspiration today and
his example and martyrdom will always remain in the hearts
and minds of strugglers.

Sukant Chandan
Sons of Malcolm / Black Panther Commemoration Committee


Power anywhere where there's people. Power anywhere where there's people. Let me give you an example of teaching people. Basically, the way they learn is observation and participation. You know a lot of us go around and joke ourselves and believe that the masses have PhDs, but that's not true. And even if they did, it wouldn't make any difference. Because with some things, you have to learn by seeing it or either participating in it. And you know yourselves that there are people walking around your community today that have all types of degrees that should be at this meeting but are not here. Right? Because you can have as many degrees as a thermometer. If you don't have any practice, they you can't walk across the street and chew gum at the same time.

Let me tell you how Huey P. Newton, the leader, the organizer, the founder, the main man of the Black Panther Party, went about it.

The community had a problem out there in California. There was an intersection, a four-way intersection; a lot of people were getting killed, cars running over them, and so the people went down and redressed their grievances to the government. You've done it before. I know you people in the community have. And they came back and the pigs said "No! You can't have any." Oh, they dont usually say you can't have it. They've gotten a little hipper than that now. That's what those degrees on the thermometer will get you. They tell you "Okay, we'll deal with it. Why dont you come back next meeting and waste some time?"

And they get you wound up in an excursion of futility, and you be in a cycle of insaneness, and you be goin' back and goin' back, and goin' back, and goin' back so many times that you're already crazy.

So they tell you, they say, "Okay niggers, what you want?" And they you jump up and you say, "Well, it's been so long, we don't know what we want", and then you walk out of the meeting and you're gone and they say, "Well, you niggers had your chance, didnt you?"

Let me tell you what Huey P. Newton did.

Huey Newton went and got Bobby Seale, the chairman of the Black Panther Party on a national level. Bobby Seale got his 9mm, that's a pistol. Huey P. Newton got his shotgun and got some stop signs and got a hammer. Went down to the intersection, gave his shotgun to Bobby, and Bobby had his 9mm. He said, "You hold this shotgun. Anybody mess with us, blow their brains out." He put those stop signs up.

There were no more accidents, no more problem.

Now they had another situation. That's not that good, you see, because its two people dealing with a problem. Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, no matter how bad they may be, cannot deal with the problem. But let me explain to you who the real heroes are.

Next time, there was a similar situation, another four-way corner. Huey went and got Bobby, went and got his 9mm, got his shotgun, got his hammer and got more stop signs. Placed those stop signs up, gave the shotgun to Bobby, told Bobby "If anybody mess with us while were putting these stop signs up, protect the people and blow their brains out." What did the people do? They observed it again. They participated in it. Next time they had another four-way intersection. Problems there; they had accidents and death. This time, the people in the community went and got their shotguns, got their hammers, got their stop signs.

Now, let me show you how were gonna try to do it in the Black Panther Party here. We just got back from the south side. We went out there. We went out there and we got to arguing with the pigs or the pigs got to arguing-he said, "Well, Chairman Fred, you supposed to be so bad, why dont you go and shoot some of those policemen? You always talking about you got your guns and got this, why dont you go shoot some of them?"

And I've said, "you've just broken a rule. As a matter of fact, even though you have on a uniform it doesn't make me any difference. Because I dont care if you got on nine uniforms, and 100 badges. When you step outside the realm of legality and into the realm of illegality, then I feel that you should be arrested." And I told him, "You being what they call the law of entrapment, you tried to make me do something that was wrong, you encouraged me, you tried to incite me to shoot a pig. And that ain't cool, Brother, you know the law, dont you?"

I told that pig that, I told him "You got a gun, pig?" I told him, "You gotta get your hands up against the wall. We're gonna do what they call a citizens arrest." This fool dont know what this is. I said, "Now you be just as calm as you can and don't make too many quick moves, cause we don't wanna have to hit you."

And I told him like he always told us, I told him, "Well, I'm here to protect you. Don't worry about a thing, 'm here for your benefit." So I sent another Brother to call the pigs. You gotta do that in a citizen's arrest. He called the pigs. Here come the pigs with carbines and shotguns, walkin' out there. They came out there talking about how they're gonna arrest Chairman Fred. And I said, "No fool. This is the man you got to arrest. He's the one that broke the law." And what did they do? They bugged their eyes, and they couldn't stand it. You know what they did? They were so mad, they were so angry that they told me to leave.

And what happened? All those people were out there on 63rd Street. What did they do? They were around there laughing and talking with me while I was making the arrest. They looked at me while I was rapping and heard me while I was rapping. So the next time that the pig comes on 63rd Street, because of the thing that our Minister of Defense calls observation and participation, that pig might be arrested by anybody!

So what did we do? We were out there educating the people. How did we educate them? Basically, the way people learn, by observation and participation. And that's what were trying to do. That's what we got to do here in this community. And a lot of people don't understand, but there's three basic things that you got to do anytime you intend to have yourself a successful revolution.

A lot of people get the word revolution mixed up and they think revolutions a bad word. Revolution is nothing but like having a sore on your body and then you put something on that sore to cure that infection. And Im telling you that were living in an infectious society right now. Im telling you that were living in a sick society. And anybody that endorses integrating into this sick society before its cleaned up is a man whos committing a crime against the people.

If you walk past a hospital room and see a sign that says "Contaminated" and then you try to lead people into that room, either those people are mighty dumb, you understand me, cause if they weren't, they'd tell you that you are an unfair, unjust leader that does not have your followers' interests in mind. And what were saying is simply that leaders have got to become, we've got to start making them accountable for what they do. They're goin' around talking about so-and-so's an Uncle Tom so we're gonna open up a cultural center and teach him what blackness is. And this n****r is more aware than you and me and Malcolm and Martin Luther King and everybody else put together. That's right. They're the ones that are most aware. They're most aware, cause they're the ones that are gonna open up the center. They're gonna tell you where bones come from in Africa that you can't even pronounce the names. Thats right. They'll be telling you about Chaka, the leader of the Bantu freedom fighters, and Jomo Kenyatta, those dingo-dingas. They'll be running all of that down to you. They know about it all. But the point is they do what they're doing because it is beneficial and it is profitable for them.

You see, people get involved in a lot of things that's profitable to them, and we've got to make it less profitable. We've got to make it less beneficial. I'm saying that any program that's brought into our community should be analyzed by the people of that community. It should be analyzed to see that it meets the relevant needs of that community. We don't need no n*****s coming into our community to be having no company to open business for the n*****s. There's too many n*****s in our community that can't get crackers out of the business that they're gonna open.

We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, I'm talking about the white masses, I'm talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too. We've got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you do'nt fight racism with racism. We're gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don't fight capitalism with no black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.

We ain't gonna fight no reactionary pigs who run up and down the street being reactionary; we're gonna organize and dedicate ourselves to revolutionary political power and teach ourselves the specific needs of resisting the power structure, arm ourselves, and we're gonna fight reactionary pigs with INTERNATIONAL PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION. That's what it has to be. The people have to have the power: it belongs to the people.

We have to understand very clearly that there's a man in our community called a capitalist. Sometimes he's black and sometimes he's white. But that man has to be driven out of our community, because anybody who comes into the community to make profit off the people by exploiting them can be defined as a capitalist. And we don't care how many programs they have, how long a dashiki they have. Because political power does not flow from the sleeve of a dashiki; political power flows from the barrel of a gun. It flows from the barrel of a gun!

A lot of us running around talking about politics don't even know what politics is. Did you ever see something and pull it and you take it as far as you can and it almost outstretches itself and it goes into something else? If you take it so far that it is two things? As a matter of fact, some things if you stretch it so far, it'll be another thing. Did you ever cook something so long that it turns into something else? Ain't that right?

That's what were talking about with politics.

That politics ain't nothing, but if you stretch it so long that it can't go no further, then you know what you got on your hands? You got an antagonistic contradiction. And when you take that contradiction to the highest level and stretch it as far as you can stretch it, you got what you call war. Politics is war without bloodshed, and war is politics with bloodshed. If you don't understand that, you can be a Democrat, Republican, you can be Independent, you can be anything you want to, you ain't nothing.

We don't want any of those n*****s and any of these hunkies and nobody else, radicals or nobody talking about, "I'm on the Independence ticket." That means you sell out the republicans; Independent means you're out for graft and you'll sell out to the highest bidder. You understand?

We want people who want to run on the People's Party, because the people are gonna run it whether they like it or not. The people have proved that they can run it. They run it in China, they're gonna run it right here. They can call it what they want to, they can talk about it. They can call it communism, and think that that's gonna scare somebody, but it ain't gonna scare nobody.

We had the same thing happen out on 37th Road. They came out to 37th road where our Breakfast for children program is, and started getting those women who were kind of older, around 58---that's, you know, I call that older cause Im young. I aint 20, right, right! But you see, they're gonna get them and brainwash them. And you ain't seen nothin till you see one of them beautiful Sisters with their hair kinda startin getting grey, and they ain't got many teeth, and they were tearin' them policemen up! They were tearing em up! The pigs would come up to them and say "You like communism?"

The pigs would come up to them and say, "You scared of communism?" And the Sisters would say, "No scared of it, I ain't never heard of it."

"You like socialism?"

"No scared of it. I ain't never heard of it."

The pigs, they be crackin' up, because they enjoyed seeing these people frightened of these words.

"You like capitalism?"

Yeah, well, that's what I live with. I like it.

"You like the Breakfast For Children program, n****r?"

"Yeah, I like it."

And the pigs say, "Oh-oh." The pigs say, "Well, the Breakfast For Children program is a socialistic program. Its a communistic program."

And the women said, "Well, I tell you what, boy. I've been knowing you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper, n****r. And I don't know if I like communism and I don't know if I like socialism. But I know that that Breakfast For Children program feeds my kids, n****r. And if you put your hands on that Breakfast For Children program, I'm gonna come off this can and I'm gonna beat your ass like a ...."

That's what they be saying. That's what they be saying, and it is a beautiful thing. And that's what the Breakfast For Children program is. A lot of people think it is charity, but what does it do? It takes the people from a stage to another stage. Any program that's revolutionary is an advancing program. Revolution is change. Honey, if you just keep on changing, before you know it, in fact, not even knowing what socialism is, you dont have to know what it is, they're endorsing it, they're participating in it, and they're supporting socialism.

And a lot of people will tell you, way, Well, the people dont have any theory, they need some theory. They need some theory even if they don't have any practice. And the Black Panther Party tells you that if a man tells you that he's the type of man who has you buying candy bars and eating the wrapping and throwing the candy away, he'd have you walking East when you're supposed to be walking West. Its true. If you listen to what the pig says, you be walkin' outside when the sun is shining with your umbrella over your head. And when it's raining youll be goin' outside leaving your umbrella inside. That's right. You gotta get it together. Im saying that's what they have you doing.

Now, what do WE do? We say that the Breakfast For Children program is a socialistic program. It teaches the people basically that by practice, we thought up and let them practice that theory and inspect that theory. What's more important? You learn something just like everybody else.

Let me try to break it down to you.

You say this Brother here goes to school 8 years to be an auto mechanic. And that teacher who used to be an auto mechanic, he tells him, "Well, n****r, you gotta go on what we call on-the-job-training." And he says, "Damn, with all this theory I got, I gotta go to on-the-job-training? What for?"

He said, "On on-the-job-training he works with me. Ive been here for 20 years. When I started work, they didn't even have auto mechanics. I ain't got no theory, I just got a whole bunch of practice."

What happened? A car came in making a whole lot of funny noise. This Brother here go get his book. He on page one, he ain't got to page 200. I'm sitting here listening to the car. He says, "What do you think it is?"

I say, "I think its the carburetor."

He says, "No I don't see anywhere in here where it says a carburetor make no noise like that." And he says, "How do you know its the carburetor?"

I said, "Well, n****r, with all them degrees as many as a thermometer, around 20 years ago, 19 to be exact, I was listening to the same kind of noise. And what I did was I took apart the voltage regulator and it wasn't that. Then I took apart the alternator and it wasn't that. I took apart the generator brushes and it wasn't that. I took apart the generator and it wasn't that. I took apart the generator and it wasn't even that. After I took apart all that I finally got to the carburetor and when I got to the carburetor I found that that's what it was. And I told myself that 'fool, next time you hear this sound you better take apart the carburetor first.'"

How did he learn? He learned through practice.

I dont care how much theory you got, if it don't have any practice applied to it, then that theory happens to be irrelevant. Right? Any theory you get, practice it. And when you practice it you make some mistakes. When you make a mistake, you correct that theory, and then it will be corrected theory that will be able to be applied and used in any situation. Thats what we've got to be able to do.

Every time I speak in a church I always try to say something, you know, about Martin Luther King. I have a lot of respect for Martin Luther King. I think he was one of the greatest orators that the country ever produced. And I listened to anyone who speaks well, because I like to listen to that. Martin Luther King said that it might look dark sometime, and it might look dark over here on the North Side. Maybe you thought the room was going to be packed with people and maybe you thought you might have to turn some people away and you might not have enough people here. Maybe some of the people you think should be here are not here and you think that, well if they're not here then it won't be as good as we thought it could have been. And maybe you thought that you need more people here than you have here. Maybe you think that the pigs are going to be able to pressure you and put enough pressure to squash your movement even before it starts. But Martin Luther King said that he heard somewhere that only when it is dark enough can you see the stars. And we're not worried about it being dark. He said that the arm of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward heaven.

We got Huey P. Newton in jail, and Eldridge Cleaver underground. And Alprentice Bunchy Carter has been murdered; Bobby Hutton and John Huggins been murdered. And a lot of people think that the Black Panther Party in a sense is giving up. But let us say this: That we've made the kind of commitment to the people that hardly anyone else has ever made.

We have decided that although some of us come from what some of you would call petty-bourgeois families, though some of us could be in a sense on what you call the mountaintop. We could be integrated into the society working with people that we may never have a chance to work with. Maybe we could be on the mountaintop and maybe we wouldn't have to be hidin' when we go to speak places like this. Maybe we wouldn't have to worry about court cases and going to jail and being sick. We say that even though all of those luxuries exist on the mountaintop, we understand that you people and your problems are right here in the valley.

We in the Black Panther Party, because of our dedication and understanding, went into the valley knowing that the people are in the valley, knowing that our plight is the same plight as the people in the valley, knowing that our enemies are on the mountain, to our friends are in the valley, and even though its nice to be on the mountaintop, we're going back to the valley. Because we understand that there's work to be done in the valley, and when we get through with this work in the valley, then we got to go to the mountaintop. We're going to the mountaintop because there's a motherfucker on the mountaintop that's playing King, and he's been bullshitting us. And weve got to go up on the mountain top not for the purpose of living his life style and living like he lives. We've got to go up on the mountain top to make this motherfucker understand, goddamnit, that we are coming from the valley!


From Opine Season...

Remembering Chairman Fred

by Ricardo Levins Morales
This article was written originally in 2004 for the 35th anniversary of Fred Hampton’s death.


Screeching tires.  Flashing lights.  Heavily armed men rushing up the dark stairwell open fire through walls and doors on the sleepers inside.  When it is over at least 90 holes mark the trajectories of police bullets entering the apartment, mostly aimed at a young man’s bed.  One bullet had answered from within.  It was December 4, 1969.
Ricardo Levins Morales
Ricardo Levins Morales
A few hours later my junior high teacher asks me about my black arm band.  “Fred Hampton was murdered this morning,” I reply.  Over the next few days members of the Chicago Black Panther Party will usher clusters of supporters (my father included), through the shattered and blood-stained apartment—until the police seal off the evidence. It will be learned that Hampton’s body guard, a police informant, had laced his juice with a sedative and given the cops a floor plan of the apartment, an X marking the location of his bed.
The official line, trumpeted in the media by FBI-linked reporters, was that the Panthers were a danger because they were racist and violence-prone.  Internal FBI memos tell a different story.  It was precisely the Party’s ability to bridge racial divides that they found so alarming.  The Fed’s failure to provoke deadly violence between the Panthers and the Blackstone Rangers street gang led to the pre-dawn raid.
The following years saw me organizing walkouts and marches, conferences and occupations in support of the besieged party.  I worked in the Panther Defense Committee and even my high school’s banned Black Student Union (where I held the cherished title of “Token Spic”).  While a young Mumia Abu Jamal was hawking theBlack Panther newspaper on the streets of Philly, I—though a member of neither group—was selling the Panther along with Pitirre, the paper of the Young Lords Organization, in Chicago.  The Lords were like Puerto Rican Panthers.  They’d been a street gang that went political under the Panther’s influence.  Fred Hampton mentored them.  Chairman Fred also pulled in the Young Patriots, white street kids born of the Appalachian migratory stream.  He brought them all into an alliance for which he coined the name “The Rainbow Coalition.”  It was 1968.
Fred Hampton is remembered as a martyr of the FBI’s war on the radical left, the COINTELPRO (Counter-Intelligence Program).  What folks forget is the promise he embodied.  While the national leaders in California, Huey Newton, Bobby Seal, Kathleen and Eldridge Cleaver, became household names, there were stars shining in the chapters.  Fred was one of the brightest.  Soon after he’d founded the Chicago Chapter he had five “Free Breakfast for Children” programs running on the west side, along with a free health clinic, door to door screening for sickle cell anemia, and the Panther’s famous police watch patrols.  He had a charismatic ability to communicate with all kinds of people, a way of cutting through the ideological fog, and a love for the abused and disrespected of the streets that was contagious.  He was soon talking with the Latin Kings, the Blackstone Rangers, and the Disciples, looking for ways to bring them out of the street wars and into the struggle.  (It’s a credit to the politics he personified that this tribute to him is written by a Jewish Puerto Rican.)  He was the kind of leader that FBI field offices were warned to watch out for and, when identified, to “neutralize.”   When he fell he had been tapped to become national Chief of Staff for the Party.  He was twenty one years old.
The wave of repression that took Fred Hampton and fellow Panther Mark Clark that morning, swept across U.S. communities of color leaving hundreds dead, wounded or in prison (where many remain).  In its wake came the money, federal funds pouring into new social service agencies and police departments.  A “leader” in our communities was now anyone who got to head up an agency.  As whites fled the cities and funds were shifted elsewhere, dark faces were allowed into mayoral offices to preside over the wreckage.
The craving for dignity and respect that electrified the struggle of a generation ago still echoes in our streets, but without the hope it finds its outlet in gangs.  In place of the “survival programs” there are “non-profit corporations.”  Stripped of revolutionary vision, they are designed to administer, not to transform.  Two forms of community “management,” neither of them a threat to the structures of wealth.
Brother Chairman, the challenges we are facing are no harder than those you confronted.  If you were with us you’d simply insist that the despised and oppressed are the solution, not the problem.
We lost you too soon, little brother (cruel history has made me your elder now).  I’m sorry we couldn’t protect you.  I’m sorry that your son has had to follow your road without ever having touched you.
And as for us?  What can I say, man… wish you were here.

I Remember Fred: A Brilliant Leader Struck Down in His Youth
by Bruce A. Dixon, former member of the Illinois Black Panther Party

I remember Fred Hampton.  For the last year of his life, which was the whole time I knew him, he was Deputy Chairman of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party.  Fred was a big man whose inexhaustible energy, keen insight and passionate commitment to the struggle made him seem even larger still.  We called him Chairman Fred.  Chairman Fred was murdered by the FBI and Chicago Police Department in the pre-dawn hours of December 4, 1969.  He was just 21 years old.  Fred’s family and comrades mourned him for a little while and have celebrated his life of struggle, service, intensity and sacrifice ever since.

For such a short life there is much to celebrate.  A gifted communicator and natural leader, Fred was organizing other high school students at the age of 15.  A brilliant student, he had passed up the chance to go to an elite college and the straight road to some lucrative and prestigious career.  Inspired by examples from the civil rights movement to anti-colonial struggles in Vietnam and Africa, Fred chose to live and work on the West Side of Chicago and devote all his talents and energies to ending the oppression of woman and man by man, helping to organize and lead the Black Panther Party in Chicago. 

Chairman Fred led by example.  He had high standards and challenged all those in his orbit to get up as early, to read as much, and to work and study as hard and as productively as he did.  I never saw anybody meet that challenge for long, but he made us want to keep trying.  Fred sought out principled critiques of his own practices, and taught us the vital role of constructing, receiving and acting on such criticism in building a sound organization. 

Fred assumed a lead role in organizing the party’s Breakfast for Children program, in which we solicited donations of food and facilities and provided or recruited the labor to serve free hot breakfasts to children on the way to school in some of thecity’s poorest neighborhoods where local authorities assured us that no hunger problem existed.  Not long afterward the city of Chicago began using federal funds to provide hot breakfasts to children in lower income neighborhoods across the city.  Fred worked with the Medical Committee for Human Rights to open the Black Panther Party’s free medical clinic on the West Side of Chicago where authorities again solemnly declared there were no shortage of such services.  And again, not long afterward the Chicago Board of Health was persuaded of the need to open a network of clinics providing free and low-cost services in the city’s poorer areas.

Fred reached out to work with the Young Lords Organization in Chicago’s Puerto Rican community, and to a group of  white working class youth who called themselves the Young Patriots.  He made time to speak to and with student groups in high schools and colleges all over Chicago and the surrounding area.  He organized community surveys to get snapshots of the actual and perceived needs of some neighborhoods.  1969 was well before the epidemics of powdered and crack cocaine put large and permanently corrupting sums of money into the hands of gang leaders.  Fred was instrumental in crafting a principled approach not just to individual members but to the rank and file and leaderships of black Chicago’s two major street gangs to put aside their differences and work for the good of the entire community.  His efforts met with some initial success, and earned him some extra special attention from the FBI.

There was much more, really an awful lot going on for a young man of 20 or 21, all the more amazing as most members of the organization he led were a year or two or three younger than Fred.  Despite arrests and threats of imprisonment or death hanging over him, Fred persevered and challenged us to do the same.  He was impatient with injustice, as the finest young people of every age always are.  Fred was animated, almost consumed by a love for our people and for all of humanity and determined to do whatever it took to end the exploitation of woman and man by man.
Times do change and the mechanisms of oppression evolve into new forms.  Political organizations and strategic visions crafted for the needs of one era don’t make the grade in another.  If Fred was alive today he’d be a middle-aged grandfather in his fifties.  It’s hard to know exactly how he’d be doing but there is no doubt that Fred would still be teaching and learning and inspiring, still tirelessly organizing and struggling in the great cause of human liberation.  Chairman Fred called us to a lifetime of service to humanity.  If we weren’t doing something revolutionary, Fred told us many times, we should not even bother to remember him.  So we continue to work hard to be worthy of his memory.

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