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PORTSIDE  December 2010, Week 1

PORTSIDE December 2010, Week 1

Subject:

Imagining The Possibilities Of A Greater Hip-Hop Politicization

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Date:

Mon, 6 Dec 2010 22:07:14 -0500

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Imagining The Possibilities Of A Greater Hip-Hop
Politicization

If Jay-Z Met Fred Hampton by Mark Anthony Neal 
TheLoop21
http://www.theloop21.com/culture/if-jay-z-met-fred-hampton

In the early morning of December 4, 1969, before dawn,
the Chicago Police Department in conjunction with the
Federal Bureau of Investigation--The FBI--riddled the
residence of Black Panther Party leaders Fred Hampton
and Mark Clark, killing them both. Hampton, who was
sleeping in the back of the house with his pregnant
girlfriend was unable to defend himself (he had been
drugged by an informant), leading poet and Third World
Press founder Haki Madhubuti (then Don L. Lee) to
describe the incident as a "One Sided Shootout." On
that same day, Shawn Corey Carter--the maverick hip-hop
mogul and artist--was born in the Bedford-Stuyvesant
section of Brooklyn, NY. I can't help but wonder what
might have happened if these two--icons for two distinct
generation of Black youth--might have ever had the
chance to meet.

For those familiar with the legacy of Fred Hampton,
simply known as Chairman Fred for many, Jay-Z might
seem the very antithesis of what Hampton represented.
At the time of his assassination, Hampton was being
prepared for national leadership within The Black
Panther Party, which was decimated by incarceration
(Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale) and exile (Eldridge
Cleaver). Hampton was 21-years-old, five years younger
than Martin Luther King, Jr. was when he led the
Montgomery Bus Boycott and the same age of Malcolm
Little when he was when he began the prison sentence
that transformed him into Malcolm X. Hampton was no
ordinary young Black man.

Specifically the Black Panther Party was targeted by
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover's counter-intelligence
program, known by the acronym COINTELPRO. The year
before Hampton's death, Hoover publically announced
that the Black Panther Party was the "greatest threat
to the internal security of the country." Part of the
FBI's strategy was to kill off the local leadership of
the Black Panther Party, before it could ascend to
national leadership. In that vein Hoover targeted the
Black Panther Party's breakfast program, because it was
one of the most tangible ways the organization impacted
their communities.

According to historian Craig Ciccione, author of the
forthcoming If I Die Before I Wake: The Assassination
of Fred Hampton, "The threat was on the local level
because on the local level the organizing was most
effective." Ciccone suggests that killing off local
leadership could be achieved on a much quieter level--he
notes that virtually none of the Panthers killed in the
late 1960s were part of the national leadership.

Of those local leaders, Fred Hampton was perhaps the
most significant--The FBI created a file on Hampton when
he was just an 18-year-old high school student, who
would shortly become leader of the Illinois Chapter of
the Black Panther Party. Fred Hampton was a compelling
figure because of his skills as an organizer--he was
instrumental in the creation of the Rainbow Coalition
(a term later appropriated by Jesse Jackson) which
included the Black Panther Party, a group of young
White activists known as The Young Patriots and The
Young Lords, a national organization of Puerto Rican
activists co-founded by Felipe Luciano, who was also a
member of the original Last Poets.

Combined with his accomplished skills as an orator and
his willingness to organize beyond the Black community,
Hampton was the prototype for the next generation of
Black activist, a possibility that was literally killed
in the early hours of December 4, 1969.

One of the tragedies of Fred Hampton's death is that
his presence would not be felt in the Marcy Houses that
Jay-Z came of age in, or in any of the like communities
across this country where young Black Americans lacked
examples of political agency and activism that were in
sync with their lives at the dawn of 1980s.

Read the Full Essay @ theLoop221:
http://www.theloop21.com/culture/if-jay-z-met-fred-hampton

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