On December 4, 1969, the Black Panther Party’s Illinois chairman Fred Hampton was murdered by police. But his story is about much more than the raid that took his life. The movement Hampton helped create was unique and revolutionary.
In the late 1960s, Fred Hampton helped lead a coalition of activists, working across racial lines, against a corrupt city government that threatened their communities. At the core of their work were social programs, including free breakfasts, health clinics, and legal aid. Hampton named the group the Rainbow Coalition. And because of its impact, it wasn’t long before its members got the attention of the police and the FBI. What followed was an assassination and a cover-up.
Check out the video above for what most people aren’t taught about the work of the Black Panthers as well as Fred Hampton’s life and legacy. If you want to learn more, the documentaries The Murder of Fred Hampton and American Revolution 2 are available to stream in full via the Chicago Film Archives. And for more on the Panthers’ coalition work, there’s the PBS film The First Rainbow Coalition and historian Jakobi Williams’ book From the Bullet to the Ballot.
This is the fourth installment in season two of Missing Chapter, where we revisit underreported and often overlooked moments of the past to give context to the present. Our first season covers stories of racial injustice, identity, and erasure. If you have an idea for a topic we should investigate in the series, send it via this form.
You can find this video and all of Vox’s videos on YouTube.