From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago

From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago

From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago

From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago

Synopsis

In this comprehensive history of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party (ILBPP), Chicago native Jakobi Williams demonstrates that the city's Black Power movement was both a response to and an extension of the city's civil rights movement. Williams focuses on the life and violent death of Fred Hampton, a charismatic leader who served as president of the NAACP Youth Council and continued to pursue a civil rights agenda when he became chairman of the revolutionary Chicago-based Black Panther Party. Framing the story of Hampton and the ILBPP as a social and political history and using, for the first time, sealed secret police files in Chicago and interviews conducted with often reticent former members of the ILBPP, Williams explores how Hampton helped develop racial coalitions between the ILBPP and other local activists and organizations.
Williams also recounts the history of the original Rainbow Coalition, created in response to Richard J. Daley's Democratic machine, to show how the Panthers worked to create an antiracist, anticlass coalition to fight urban renewal, political corruption, and police brutality.

Excerpt

I PLEDGE A GRIEVANCE
TO THE FLAG
OF THE IGNITED STATES
OF AMERICA
AND TO THE SICK PUBLIC
FOR WHICH IT STANDS
ONE NATION
INCONCEIVABLE
WITH MOCKERY
AND PREJUDICE FOR ALL

— Rex Amos, Black Panther
in Fat City, 1965

The Black Panther Party for Self Defense originated, to borrow a phrase from Miriam Ma’at-Ka-Re Monges, “among the black downtrodden.” Black Panthers lived among impoverished African Americans, and the Party’s offices were in low-income, urban African American communities. Immersed in such settings, where the ideology of self-defense is commonplace, the Party popularized radicalism and armed resistance. The Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party (ILBPP) stands not only as an example in the long African American tradition of radicalism and resistance but also as a paradigm of Black Power as a creative outgrowth of earlier civil rights efforts in Chicago.

This volume closely examines the Illinois chapter, located in Chicago, and its leader, Fred Hampton, with an emphasis on these linkages. Hampton was the young, idealistic, charismatic leader of a multiethnic political movement in Chicago who was brutally murdered by police officers while he slept. His . . .

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