Ode to Ana Luz Lopez Betancourt May 23, 1951 – May 11, 2018

By Carlito Rovira

 

Today, May 11, 2019 marks one year since the death of Ana Luz Lopez Betancourt, the woman whom I grew to love, respect, cherish and from whom I learned tremendously. After having a stroke months before many had hoped that Ana would heal. What resulted instead was an unexpected heart attack which eventually claimed her life. Being a witness to her suffering in those final moments became the greatest trauma that I have ever experienced.

 

Ana was a beautiful human being who had earned the respect and affection of many people, especially fellow poets and her students, many of whom were immigrants from various countries. She was a teacher of creative writing and assisted these students in the use of the English language for job applications. But her humanity was not strictly in her profession, Ana’s premise was selflessness on every level. If Ana were to see someone in need she would immediately step in to help.

 

Ana was a Buddhist who consciously practiced her spiritual beliefs by always making an extra effort to help others in need. Her humanism was undeniably expressed through her poetry. Ana wrote about love, sorrow, pain, joy, as well as poetic renditions of political themes in both English and Spanish.

 

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Ana Luz Lopez Betancourt reciting her poetry.

 

Ana was very proud of her Puerto Rican heritage as well as for being an Afro-Boricua. She would always challenge the influences of white supremacy with individuals who demonstrated to be impacted when they would express anti-Black notions by tending to deny or downplay the African blood among Latino people.

 

And having been born in Puerto Rico, suffering the consequences of colonialism, Ana’s steadfast became inseparable from her contempt for the U.S. colonization of her homeland, especially in the last days of her life when it became apparent how U.S. colonial policy welcomed the destructive forces of Hurricane Maria, in order to intensify their rule. Ana lived with the hopes of living long enough to see Puerto Rico as a free and independent republic.

 

Surviving the trauma of Ana’s death was very difficult, especially with the death of my very best friend Andy McInerney who died six months later. But I was very fortunate to have many friends who came to my support at a moment when I needed it the most. The people whom I shall forever be grateful to were members of the Campaign to Bring Mumia Home, most especially Johanna Fernandez, Sophia Williams, Gwen Debrow, Robyn Spensor, Rebekah McAlister, as well as Xen Medina, Mariana McDonald and my beloved dear friend Andy McInerney.

 

Ana shall always be remembered by many who grew to love her. And being that her convictions and morality also impacted me, which helped to strengthen my resolve in political struggle as well as making me a better man, Ana shall always have a very special place in my heart.

 

 

Ana Luz Lopez Betancourt – PRESENTE!

 

 

 

 

 

What the hell did you expect from the Robert Mueller Report?

By Carlito Rovira

                                                                                                                                                              You say you’re disappointed – what on earth were you thinking about when Mueller was first appointed special counsel?

 

Sure the rulers are not homogeneous and are contentious among themselves, but keep in mind that it was an inquiry created by and approved by them. Mueller, who is also a Republican, is a staunch cadre of the ruling class, and is highly regarded by them. His military career and as Director of the FBI under both Republican and Democratic presidents confirms his complete loyalty to this system.

 

If there is a strict rule these villains in power live by is to protect the political integrity of the capitalist system. Mueller’s investigative mandate was not aimed to protect “democracy”, but rather, to protect a system of exploitation, social privilege and inequality.

 

Whose interest did you think the special counsel really represented? Certainly not our’s, the tens of millions of working class people who are being impacted by the policies of the Trump administration, and every administration that came before — which have acted consistently with the interest of the ruling class — a class interest that Democrats also represent. This fiasco was more like thieves investigating thieves.

 

Of course Trump should be indicted, most people in this country will agree. In fact, people are now speaking about the Mueller Report everywhere with the highest level of disappointment. But what Trump should have been investigated, indicted and imprisoned for goes beyond collusion — which many in the ruling class are also motivated to engage in for their business interest.

 

What Trump is indisputably guilty of is stepping up the full agenda of billionaires in this country, who conspire daily to execute an onslaught against poor working class, people of color.

 

What Trump is guilty of is working feverishly on eliminating the gains African Americans made during the Civil Rights movement and openly legitimizing traditional racist groups like the Ku Klux Klan and the Nazies. He is also guilty of degrading Mexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, Muslims, and other people of color. Special Council Mueller’s mandate did not include addressing questions of social oppression which are the unavoidable consequence of capitalist society. 

 

Trump should also face criminal charges for plotting war against Venezuela; his disgusting and offensive disposition towards the Palestinian people when he established a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem; and his hurtful, chastising imperial behavior towards Puerto Rico, as thousands died horribly as a result of Hurricane Maria.

 

YES, Trump should be investigated, indicted and imprisoned, but by a people’s tribunal that can guarantee justice in the fullest sense, independent of financial interests and the intricate connections within the ruling class. Such would require a people’s revolutionary movement. Not only would Trump be held accountable for his criminal activities but so too would the capitalist system and the white supremacist movement which he represents.

 

 

 

 

 

Remember the March 21,1937 Ponce Massacre!

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By Carlito Rovira 

 

The colonization of Puerto Rico began as a consequence of the Spanish-American War in 1898. Cuba, Guam, the Philippines and Puerto Rico were deemed as “spoils of war” — the result of Spain’s surrender to the United States. Puerto Rico was then colonized by a new tyrant. The island nation soon after became a staging ground for U.S. military ventures throughout the Caribbean and all of Latin America; a practice that continues to this day.

 

It was V.I. Lenin, leader of the 1917 Russian Socialist Revolution, who rightfully characterized the Spanish-American conflict as the first war among imperialist powers. They aimed to battle each other in order to obtain new colonial possessions.

 

Throughout the history of the U.S. colonial presence in Puerto Rico outspoken advocates for independence have been the targets of Draconian measures. Members of the Nationalist Party lived under the constant threat of being blacklisted from employment, their homes being firebombed, imprisonment, torture and being killed by the various repressive agencies.

 

U.S. colonial policy in Puerto Rico has always been administered with brutality and complete disregard for the wishes of the Puerto Rican people. It was precisely this disposition by the colonial rulers which brought about one of the most horrifying events in Puerto Rico’s history.

 

The Ponce Massacre

 

In the city of Ponce, a peaceful protest was planned for March 21, 1937. The demonstration was intended to raise the demand for independence and the release from prison of Nationalist leader Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos.

 

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Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos

 

Although permits were unnecessary, the organizers requested permission to have the event out of respect for the sympathetic mayor of Ponce. The organizers were granted a legal permit to proceed with their plans.

 

The notorious U.S. Army Gen. Blanton Winship was appointed colonial governor by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Despite the “liberal” projections made by bourgeois historians and apologists Roosevelt was just as brutal as any colonizing head of state acting with imperial arrogance. Boricuas suffered tremendously under the FDR administration and Winship’s racist implementation of colonial policy.

 

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Outright military rule was the form of colonial government, pronouncing an occupation by a foreign power. Winship tried everything possible to stop the nationalist protest, including using outright gangster tactics aimed to intimidate.

 

In this period of intense repression, the U.S. government, through Winship, sought to stamp out all nationalist sentiment of self-identity — especially the quest for independence and self-determination.

 

On that Palm Sunday morning, hundreds of people–women, children and men — gathered at the town plaza, in defiance of the colonial government’s wishes. Among those who assembled were women dressed in all white who gathered as Nurses of the Republic. The youth organization of the Nationalist Party, the Cadets of the Republic, who were present in uniform, black shirts and white pants. Church congregations and others also formed their contingents.

 

 

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The Cadets of the Republic was the youth organization of the Nationalist Party.

 

A Nationalist color guard in military formation unveiled the outlawed Puerto Rican flag. With clenched fists in the air, the crowd began to proudly sing “La Borinqueña” — the original (revolutionary) national anthem of the colonized people.

 

At this point, the police had completely sealed off the area where the nationalist protest was gathering. With grenades, tear-gas bombs, carbine rifles and machine guns, under the directions of Winship and the central colonial government, the police prepared the bloody onslaught.

 

Once the crowd began to march, and with full knowledge that the mostly young participants were unarmed, the police did the unimaginable — they opened fire.

 

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Photo taken as the colonial police begin their attack.

 

The barrage lasted about 5 minutes. The participants which included elderly and children helplessly attempted to escape the horror. The entire gathering began to desperately run to save their lives from whistling bullets everywhere. People screamed in horror as they witnessed the chaos and blood splattering from the bodies of their compatriots who fell to the ground from gunshots wounds.

 

When the shooting ended, 19 people had been killed and over 200 lay wounded. The event brought sadness and shock throughout Puerto Rico. The funeral procession for the martyrs was one of the largest in Puerto Rican history — about 200,000 people attended.

 

The cruelty of the Ponce Massacre sheds light on the many hideous crimes committed by the U.S. government against the Puerto Rican people. Destruction, death, plunder and rape are the trademarks of this system. Puerto Ricans are expendable to the U.S. colonizers; let us never forget how the U.S. government allowed 4,743 Puerto Ricans to die from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.

 

“It was love for the freedom of our homeland — Puerto Rico,” Nationalist iconic figure Doña Isabel Rosado once said, “that gave strength to the martyrs of Ponce. Nothing in this world is more powerful than this emotion — not even the guns of the colonial assassins.”

 

And it is precisely this emotion that worries U.S. colonialism even to this day — an emotion that will prove fatal to them when the Puerto Rican masses rise up eventually to avenge the Ponce Massacre.

 

Colonial policy changes only in form.

 

The nationalist movement that rose up in the first half of the 20th Century compelled the U.S. colonizers to change their methods of subjugating the people of Puerto Rico. Long after the Ponce Massacre, decades later into the present day, the U.S. colonizers became more sophisticated in their methods of domination.

 

By 1952, Washington, DC allowed some semblances of democracy, in order to attempt fooling the people with illusions of inclusiveness and to disguise the exploitative nature of the colonial relationship before the eyes of the world.

 

The U.S. colonizers developed such a confidence in their new tactics of colonizing that they were now willing to allow individuals of Puerto Rican origin in public offices of the colonizing state apparatus, even at the highest level of the U.S. government — as in the U.S. Congress and the Supreme Court today.

 

The rulers have no problem granting Puerto Ricans visibility; it’s in granting the right to independence, that is, real political power, where they feverishly have a problem. And because freedom is never granted from the “goodness” of an oppressor, it will require a revolutionary mass movement to wage a relentless battle in order to achieve it.

 

The U.S. empire is more vulnerable than what most people realize; it has brought on itself enemies in all parts of the globe. One can feel certain that the Puerto Rican people are destined to win their historical struggle for the independence of their homeland. That inevitable glorious future moment will be the Puerto Rican contribution to the worldwide defeat of U.S. imperialism.

 

 

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QUE VIVA PUERTO RICO LIBRE!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg January 24, 1874 – June 8, 1938

 

Salute to the memory of

ARTURO ALFONSO SCHOMBURG

on the anniversary of his birth

 

 

By Carlito Rovira

 

Arturo Alfonso Schomburg was an Afro-Boricua scholar who devoted his entire life to compiling vast collections of writings and art documenting significant events in Black history. When Shcomburg was just 8 years old he was told by a school teacher that Black people had no history. This assertion naturally bothered him for a long time.

But as he gradually grew older, Schomburg found the teacher’s claim to make absolutely no sense. That encounter became Schomburg’s motivation which led him to set out and prove wrong such racist notions.

African chattel slavery also touched upon Puerto Rico, which became the consequence of Spanish colonialism in both Africa and Latin America.

Before moving to New York City, Schomburg was a member of the clandestine Revolutionary Committees of Puerto Rico. Years before Schomberg’s birth it organized an anti-slavery & pro-independence uprising in 1868 known as El Grito De Lares. Although that attempt to rid Puerto Rico of Spanish colonialism failed, the movement for independence continued to exist. Throughout his life Schomburg remained a firm advocate for Puerto Rico’s independence.

 

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As the persecution of Black people in the United States intensified, with lynching and white racist riots presenting a dangerous and menacing setting, coupled by Schomburg’s childhood memory of a demeaning comment made to him by a school teacher, raised his commitment to the idea of affirming the validity and truth of Black history.

Ridiculing the racist fables about the origins and history of Black people became Schomburg’s central focus. His noble quest eventually proved indisputably the extent of white supremacy’s corruption and baseless reasoning for existing.

Once in New York City, and for the remainder of his life, Schomburg collected large amounts of materials relevant to the history of Africa and the African diaspora. His work unavoidably brought to light the falsehood of white historians who interpreted the history of human social development strictly from a European perspective, thus concealing what are the African people’s pivotal role in that process.

Schomburg’s scholarly work was indeed revolutionary; it was part of a historical countering trend in academic and scientific fields that exposed the hypocrisy of racist and anti-working class apologists for capitalism — such were adherents of Social-Darwinism, Eugenics, etc.

 

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Arturo Alfonso Schomberg

 

Schomburg became a prominent figure during the Harlem Renaissance. Along with famous figures like Langston Hughes this movement succeeded in challenging the ideological facets of white supremacy through the literary, visual and performing arts.

The collection of literature and art materials he compiled are permanently housed at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, located in Harlem. Arturo Alfonso Schomberg shall forever be remembered as a hero of the oppressed, by those who fight for Puerto Rico’s independence and by those engaged in the historical struggle for Black liberation.

 

Arturo Alfonso Schomberg — PRESENTE!

QUE VIVA PUERTO RICO LIBRE!

 

 

 

Cuba’s best New Years Eve party ever, with a bash; the 1959 CUBAN REVOLUTION!

 

By Carlito Rovira

 

On New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1958, the revolutionary guerilla army of the July 26 Movement, under the leadership of Comandante Fidel Castro Ruz, entered the capital city of Havana, Cuba.  This was the final act in the overthrow of the notorious U.S.-sponsored Fulgencio Batista regime.

 

The closer the guerilla army approached the city on foot, horseback and vehicles, the more frantic the oppressors of the Cuban people became. Their world of lavishness with cocktails drinks on hand was abruptly disrupted. Mafia gangsters, prostitution pimps, drug peddlers, casino club owners, operatives of the CIA and other imperialist agencies, high ranking military and police officials as well as top bureaucrats of Batista’s government, were all crowding Havana’s airport in a desparate rush to leave Cuba, to avoid capture by the revolutionaries.

 

This event marked the dawn of a new era in that country’s history which sent shock waves throughout the Western Hemisphere. The Cuban Revolution has had a tremendous impact on political circumstances in Latin America, the Caribbean and the entire world ever since.

 

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Revolutionaries approaching the city of Havana to seize political power.

 

Cuba has been a staunch advocate of Puerto Rico’s right to independence and has brought to light at the world arena the horrendous nature of the U.S. colonial presence; it provided political and logistical support to the Palestinian liberation struggle as well as sending thousands of Cuban troops to Africa in an effort to assist freedom fighters there in their quest. The most notable example of Cuba’s solidarity with Africa’s freedom struggle is the Battle of Cuito Cuanavale. In a combined effort with the Angolan military the Cuban Army surrounded and smashed the racist apartheid South African Army.

 

Of the most notable of Cuba’s acts of humanitarianism is its creation of the Latin American School of Medicine. Students from poor and oppressed communities from the United States and Third World countries, who otherwise could not financially afford it, are provided with a free education to become medical doctors, paid for by the Cuban government.

 

And to demonstrate how serious the Cuban Revolution is about its own convictions and sense of humanity, many people in poor countries have received desperately needed medical attention for the first time thanks to Cuba’s well-known international medical program. Cuba has sent thousands of medical professionals to the poorest communities throughout the globe to heal and prevent deceases, even under the most dangerous circumstances.

 

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Women in the Armed Forces of Cuba.

 

Cuba has also provided a safe haven to many political refugees sought by the agencies of imperialism, like Puerto Rican freedom fighter William Morales and Black Panther sister Assata Shakur. Cuba has also been a firm supporter for the release of political prisoners in the U.S., like Mumia Abu-Jamal.

 

Justice now had a new meaning, defined by the revolutionary aspirations of the oppressed. Uniformed villains of the Batista military and police who once tortured, murdered and raped the people were rounded up and brought to face criminal charges. Tribunals were held throughout the country for all to witness and participate in a completely new form of justice — people’s justice — in which victims partook by providing testimony and in deciding the fate of these overthrown government officials.

 

Thanks to the Cuban Revolution the people were no longer deprived of free healthcare, free education, and access to food. Such are the vital necessities denied to the working poor here in the United States.

 

60 years have past and the Cuban people remain firm on defending their right to self-determination. They have been exemplary in their resilience in the face of repeated U.S. government attempts to undermine their sovereignty. These attempts include terrorist actions on Cuba’s tourist industry, CIA subversive attempts to incite counterrevolutionary activities within the country, 600 known attempts on the life of the late Fidel Castro Ruz, and a continuous economic blockade that still continues to this day.

 

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Raul and Fidel Castro among others overwhelmed by the jubilant moment.

 

Despite these acts of aggression and Washington’s 60 years propaganda war aimed to demonize the revolution, no one can deny Cuba’s achievements in eradicating illiteracy, advancements in medical science, food production & agriculture, housing development and the infrastructure.

 

Cuba’s revolutionary leadership has prioritized the needs of the people and continues to make good on its pledge never to allow foreign exploiters, oppressors and conquerors to return the country back to the suffering that once existed under the domination of the United States.

 

So as we celebrate the coming of the new year, we should salute the Cuban people on their glorious anniversary. And may the year 2019 bring us here in the United States a step closer to a world without exploitation, deprivation, oppression and racist violence.

 

LONG LIVE THE CUBAN REVOLUTION!

 

 

 

 

Andy McInerney – PRESENTE! Nov 27, 1966 – Dec 10, 2018

By Carlito Rovira

 

It saddens me to announce that on the evening of Monday, December 10, 2018, long time revolutionary activist Andy McInerney passed away after losing a long battle with cancer. As if it wasn’t enough losing my sweetheart & love of my life, Ana Lopez Betancourt, in the month of May 2018, I now grieve another major loss, my very best friend, brother and comrade, Andy McInerney.

 

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Andy and I at a Free Puerto Rico event 2011

 

Andy was a professor at Bronx Community College in New York. He will surely be missed by the many whom he taught as well as his colleagues who partook in struggles for bettering college level education and for increasing the benefits and salaries of professors.

 

Andy was a communist. He was always fascinated when learning about the liberation struggles of oppressed people. He was adamant about white progressives today requiring to have the same disposition John Brown once had against African chattel slavery, if they sincierely claim being anti-racist. I always had respect for Andy, since I envisioned him fighting alongside John Brown if he were to live during the 1859 attack on Harpers Ferry.

 

As a person of white origin himself, Andy was critical of white leftists who tended to show inconsistencies of conviction, by being soft and evasive of criticizing white privilege and white entitlement. He viewed that kind of behavior unforgiving and a not-so-hidden expression of white supremacist ideology.

 

Andy and I became good friends during our mutual experience in Workers World Party and in the Party for Socialism & Liberation. It was in our experiences in these entities where our collaboration first grew to the finest pitch, which later on continued.

 

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Andy McInerney with his loving partner and spouse, Eline Elara.

 

Wherever Andy found himself, whether organizing events on campus or mobilizing for mass demonstrations, he always sought ways to promote and apply Marxist-Leninist theory. He recognized that his moral obligation was to build in the present in preparation for the future battle for socialism in the United States.

 

Andy was indeed a revolutionary who also contributed to my own political development. In 1991 when I first met him the world revolutionary movement went into disarray, resulting from the impact the collapse of the Soviet Union was having everywhere.

 

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Andy and his daughter Arlen McInerney.
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Andy & the very young Arlen McInerney.

 

He was an optimist, even under dim circumstances. He always told me that the collapse of the Soviet Union was only a temporary victory for imperialism and that we should maintain our course in building for revolution in this country regardless.

 

Andy understood that throughout history such phenomenon also occurred with other social & economic systems. It was Andy who told me “not to worry” and enlightened me to how the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte in France was equivalent to the restoration of capitalism in Russia. Bonaparte restored the political power of the monarchy that was defeated by the 1789 French Revolution.

 

Andy was of Irish descent. He demonstrated the utmost respect to me when he discovered that I was a Young Lord and a Puerto Rican revolutionary nationalist. In our exchanges we strengthened each other’s understanding of the Irish-Puerto Rican connection. It was Andy who first made me aware that Irish revolutionary James Connolly had asked Puerto Rican Nationalist leader Dr. Pedro Albizu Campos to draw up a draft for the Constitution of a free Irish republic.

 

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Ana Lopez Betancourt and Andy McInerney

 

There is much more that can be said about Andy McInerney. He touched the hearts of so many people. His greatest trait which describes his finest qualities as a human being was his incredible love and respect for teaching and learning, a fundamental requirement for what it takes to be a revolutionary. Andy’s disposition came with an eagerness to learn and pass the knowledge on to others.

 

I will miss you my dear brother and comrade, Andy McInerney. You were always there for me during the thick and thin. There is much about you that I will cherish and feel honored that you were in my life. And above all, I shall eternally be grateful to you for helping me strengthen my resolve to keep fighting until this social system of oppression is finally smashed by the will of the vast majority of oppressed and exploited people.

 

Andy McInerney – PRESENTE!

 

 

 

Remember FRED HAMPTON & MARK CLARK, on the 50th anniversary of their murders by police.

By Carlito Rovira

 

The wave of repression unleashed on the Black liberation movement in the 1960’s and 1970’s by the FBI’s “Operation COINTELPRO” reached its height with a series of murderous attacks on the Black Panther Party. One of the most horrendous episodes of this onslaught took place on Dec. 4, 1969, when Black Panther Party figures Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were assassinated by police.

 

In a coordinated effort between the Illinois State Attorney’s Office, Cook County Police Department, the Chicago Police Department and the FBI, a heavily armed assault was launched in the early morning hours on Fred Hampton’s residence. With a vicious sense of racist hatred and no regard for human life, the police fired their weapons at will through a wall separating the hallway from the apartment. The two revolutionaries were killed.

 

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In the days that followed, law enforcement officials were quick to reinvent the facts. They claimed that the occupants of the apartment fired guns at police. Their story never held water. Evidence gathered from the forensic investigation and other inquiries pointed exclusively to police savagery in the attack.

 

The shaping of a leader

 

Hampton’s life was brief, but was rich in struggle.

 

Hampton was born in Chicago on Aug. 30, 1948. His parents originated from Hayneville, La., where sharecropping and racial injustice were common. His great-grandparents had worked on a plantation in that region under the horrors of slavery.

 

Like millions of African Americans, Hampton’s parents left the South during the Great Migration of the 1930’s to look for a better life and flee the constant threat of racist terror. They settled in Maywood, Ill., a suburb of Chicago where they worked at the Argo Starch Company.

 

Hampton was attracted to books, and took it upon himself to read the speeches and writings of Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. Dubois, Joan Elbert, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and others. He gained a reputation for his knowledge of Black history and began to sense the need for struggle.

 

As a student at Proviso East High School, he noticed that most of the students who failed were Black. Hampton began to speak out against the school administration for not providing tutoring and remedial programs for students. He was also critical of the fact that the faculty and administration were all white when one-fourth of the student body was Black.

 

Hampton challenged the school’s exclusive racist practice of nominating only white girls to compete for “Miss Homecoming Queen.” He organized a protest, walk-out and school boycott. As a result, the following year Black female students were included in this contest.

 

Fred Hampton was respected by white and Black students alike. The year after he graduated from Proviso East, a school administrator requested his help to calm racial tensions among students.

 

Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton.

 

An event that likely affected the young Fred Hampton, much as it affected most of Chicago’s Black community, was the 1955 gruesome lynching of Emmett Till. The 14-year-old Till was visiting family in Mississippi when he was abducted and killed for allegedly whistling at a white woman. Till was the son of family friends and neighbors of the Hamptons.

 

At Triton Junior College, he studied law as a defense against police brutality aimed at the Black community. He joined the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and became the leader of its youth council at the West suburban branch, galvanizing a membership of 500.

 

While Hampton was in the NAACP, the Black Panther Party was opening chapters across the country and becoming a prominent force in the Black liberation struggle. Hampton began to absorb and understand the revolutionary content of the Panthers’ political perspective, and joined. He soon demonstrated his leadership abilities and became deputy chairman of the party’s Illinois chapter.

 

His disposition and skills as a speaker earned Hampton a moral authority. His political achievements included brokering peace with the supposed “street gangs” of Chicago, amongst them the Puerto Rican group the Young Lords. Hampton was instrumental in transforming the Young Lords into a revolutionary political organization.

 

The white, racist U.S. ruling class was appalled. How dare the descendents of African slaves call themselves socialists and aim to achieve Black people’s right to reparations! Even more daring was the Black Panther Party’s call for the overthrow of capitalism—a demand the ruling class could never tolerate. Their ability to forge unity in struggle was a threat in itself.

 

All this was happening while resentment for the war in Vietnam was on the rise. The men of privilege and wealth, with a stake in preserving the imperialist system, grew apprehensive the more it became apparent that a mass revolutionary movement was arising.

 

Hampton valued the need for a multinational revolutionary struggle, and organized the original Rainbow Coalition comprised of the I Wor Kuen of the Asian community, the Brown Berets of the Mexican community, the poor white workers of the Young Patriots, the Young Lords and the Black Panthers. The Black Panther Party set standards for waging struggle. Their enthusiastic projection of socialism allowed many to envision its relevance to African Americans and other oppressed nationalities.

 

Operation COINTELPRO, an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program, was established in the mid-1950’s to deter the development of any movement deemed a threat to the existing social, economic and political order. It remained secret until 1971, when anti-repression activists broke into an FBI field office in Media, Pa., and confiscated files revealing the hidden operation.

 

As the Civil Rights movement advanced—galvanizing strength from all sectors of the population, breaking the despicable Jim Crow laws and compelling the U.S. Congress to pass other progressive legislation—the FBI increasingly turned its attention to the Black liberation struggle.

 

The slanderous editorials against the Panthers in the capitalist-owned mass media, combined with Hoover’s frequent verbal attacks, reflected the wishes of the ruling class who sought the complete destruction of the Black Panther Party and the ideals it embodied. Internal FBI memos show that the government had a special interest in Hampton’s political activities and his associations; Chicago police were encouraged by the FBI to find a way to lock up Hampton.

 

These circumstances compelled the government to destroy the Black Panther Party.

 

“The greatest threat to national security”

 

The Black Panther Party openly advocated for socialist revolution, and openly supported the Chinese and Cuban revolutions. The Panthers’ breakfast program for children, among other social programs, underlined their commitment to meet the needs of communities that received nothing but oppression and neglect from the government.

 

Prior to Hampton’s death, police raided the Panthers’ Chicago office on three separate occasions. William O’Neal, Fred Hampton’s bodyguard, was a police informant who was instructed to draw up a floor plan of the targeted apartment weeks earlier. Law enforcement used the information gathered by O’Neal to murder Hampton.

 

The staunch anti-capitalist stance of these young revolutionaries who declared themselves Marxist-Leninists made them the target of the most ruthless, racist elements in power. On numerous occasions, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover expressed a special disdain for the Black struggle, particularly towards Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. Many were not surprised when Hoover declared the Black Panther Party “the greatest threat to national security.”

 

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Chairman Fred Hampton was a widely respected orator.

 

Hampton’s murder was part of a pattern of police raids, false imprisonment and executions of Black Panthers. COINTELPRO documents proved that assassination of Black leaders was among its aims. Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party had to be eliminated simply because they had touched upon capitalism’s greatest weakness—the decisiveness and strength that a multi-national movement has in a battle against this system.

 

The Black Panther Party arose from the struggles of the African American people, historically the most oppressed and exploited group in the United States. They symbolized hope and received the greatest affection. They attributed Black oppression to the capitalist system, and dared to pick up arms against the state. The militancy and defiance of these young revolutionaries deeply impacted the Civil Rights and socialist movements.

 

Hampton and the Black Panthers believed all would benefit if the banner of the struggle against racism and national oppression was taken up by the white masses as their own. Hampton knew that it was possible to smash the racial barriers created by capitalism to divide and conquer the working class. His confidence was based on the strong belief that this system provides the motivation for all to unite and engage in revolutionary struggle.

 

Long live the memory of Fred Hampton & Mark Clark!  

Long live the memory of the Black Panther Party!