Live for the People

Anywhere there's people, there's power.

Anywhere there's people, there's power.

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Live for the People

Chairman Fred Hampton often said, "I'm going to die for the people. Because I'm going to live for the people. I’m going to live for the people because I love the people.” Armed with the revolutionary ideology that the power belongs to the people, the Black Panther Party’s goals were to give poor communities across the country access to decent education, healthcare and housing. Learn more about their programs and impact below.

Live for The People Image Grid

Chairman Fred Hampton

Chairman Fred Hampton (1969)

Black Panther Party in Harlem (1970)

Black Panther Party in Harlem (1970)

Free Breakfast Program

Free breakfast program sponsored by Black Panther Party (1969)

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Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton of the Illinois Black Panther Party was only 20 years old when he helped the Party build its local chapter in 1968. Having led the Junior NAACP in his late teens, Hampton was no stranger to organizing other children to fight against injustice. When he was 12 years old, he organized against the lack of swimming pools for Black kids in Maywood, Illinois.

By 1969, the FBI had seen Chairman Fred Hampton as such a threat to the status quo that it appointed FBI informant William O’Neal to infiltrate the Black Panther Party and help destroy them. On the night of December 4, 1969, the Chicago police attacked Hampton’s apartment and murdered him in his sleep. Over 90 rounds were fired in what was described at the time as an intense gun battle. Eventually the truth was exposed that a single shot was fired by the Black Panthers’ security guard, Mark Clark - most likely as an involuntary reaction as he was dying.

Though his life was cut short, Chairman Fred Hampton’s work lives on in today’s leaders and activists who are working to dismantle systemic oppression.

1 - THE FREE BREAKFAST PROGRAM

The Black Panthers were the originators of the free breakfast program that fed thousands of children across 19 different cities in 1969. The program was eventually shut down by the FBI through a series of pantry raids for no other reason than that it represented “the best and most influential activity going for the BPP” according to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, and should therefore be “neutralized”. Six years later, the program was adopted by the U.S. educational system and implemented nationwide, making it one of the Panther’s longest lasting contributions.

 

2 - THE RAINBOW COALITION

Even though the Panthers are often painted as anti-white separatists, they actually did tons of important work building multiracial coalitions fighting for equality and political empowerment. Most famously, Chairman Fred Hampton led the Rainbow Coalition which was composed of the Puerto Rican Young Lords and the Young Patriots - an organization of poor, white Southern migrants.

 

3 - THE BLACK PANTHER PARTY FOR SELF DEFENSE

The initial name of the Black Panther Party was the Back Panther Party for Self Defense. The name refers to the belief that racist oppression, police brutality and the murder of Black people can and should be stood up against. The Panthers distinguished violence from self-defense and believed that resistance was necessary in order to preserve human life. In fact, the Panthers evolved out of other nonviolent civil rights organizations, like the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) led by John Lewis.

 

4 - FOCUS ON EDUCATION

The Black Panther Party had a huge focus on education: in order to join the Party, one had to fulfill an education requirement that included 6 weeks of classes on political liberation and read a minimum of 10 books on the subject. Chairman Fred Hampton once said, “without education, people will accept anything.” In point number five of their Ten Point Program, the Panthers state: "We want education for our people that exposes the true nature of this decadent American society. We want education that teaches us our true history and our role in the present-day society." The Panthers believed there was a need for education beyond what is taught in classrooms, which is why they developed a network of liberation schools. One of their many important contributions was their role in anti-racist education.

 

5 - SURVIVAL PROGRAMS

Along with the Free Breakfast program, some of the 60 other Survival Programs that the Black Panther Party developed to serve the needs of the Black community included free legal services, free medical clinics, free ambulances, free bus service to prisons, free housing cooperatives, free children’s development centers, and research into sickle cell anemia. Some of these programs still exist today.

As Huey Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party explained, “We realize that this country became very rich upon slavery and that slavery is capitalism in the extreme.” Racism in the U.S. has been legalized for centuries, and the effort to disrupt the movement for Black liberation is as American as apple pie.

According to exposed government documents, the Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) was a covert operation designed to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of the Black nationalists”. Their tactics included spying and wiretapping Black leaders, incarcerating them on bogus charges, intimidating them, spreading rumors and misinformation (73% of articles written about the Black Panthers at the time were authored or commissioned by the FBI) and even assassinating them, as in the case of Chairman Fred Hampton.

The systemic oppression of people organizing for basic rights hasn’t gone away. From the Civil Rights movement to Black Lives Matter, the government continues to criminalize, exile, and murder those Black and Brown activists who dare to threaten the system.

GET THE GUIDE

Check out the film resource guide to better understand the historical facts portrayed in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH.

Black Panther Party Members in Harlem (1970)

GET THE GUIDE

Check out the film resource guide to better understand the historical facts portrayed in JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH.

JOIN TODAY'S MOVEMENT
JOIN TODAY'S MOVEMENT 

GET INVOLVED IN CHICAGO

Hampton House

Save the Hampton House

Save the Hampton House - “Bigger than a building, more significant than a structure.” Help preserve Hampton’s childhood home to honor his legacy and inspire today’s youth leaders.

My Block My Hood My City

My Block My Hood My City

My Block My Hood My City - Providing underprivileged youth with an awareness of the world and opportunities beyond their neighborhood.

Maafa Redemption Project

Maafa Redemption Project

Maafa Redemption Project- Improving the quality of life of high-risk young men of color and their families to repair and rebuild Chicago, one life at a time.

TAKE ACTION NATIONALLY

Until Freedom

Until Freedom

Until Freedom - Organizing to address systemic racial injustice by investing in those who are most directly impacted by cyclical poverty, inequality, and state violence.

Live Free

Live Free

Live Free - Ending gun violence and mass incarceration by holding authorities accountable as allies, not obstacles, to criminal justice reform.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter - Eradicating white supremacy and creating local leaders to intervene in the violence inflicted on Black communities.

ADVOCATE

Support the BREATHE Act. In honor of the lives taken by state-sanctioned police brutality, this visionary bill calls to divest our taxpayer dollars from discriminatory punishment standards and invest in a new vision of community safety: to defund the police and allow the people to finally BREATHE free.

ADVOCATE

Support the BREATHE Act. In honor of the lives taken by state-sanctioned police brutality, this visionary bill calls to divest our taxpayer dollars from discriminatory punishment standards and invest in a new vision of community safety: to defund the police and allow the people to finally BREATHE free.

Join The Movement

JOIN THE MOVEMENT

Join us for more information on today’s movement for Black liberation and ways you can take action with us. 

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WATCH

Judas And The Black Messiah

Chairman Fred Hampton was 21 years old when he was assassinated by the FBI, who coerced a petty criminal named William O’Neal to help them silence him and the Black Panther Party. But they could not kill Fred Hampton’s legacy and, 50 years later, his words still echo… louder than ever. In theaters and streaming now.

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Judas And The Black Messiah

Chairman Fred Hampton was 21 years old when he was assassinated by the FBI, who coerced a petty criminal named William O’Neal to help them silence him and the Black Panther Party. But they could not kill Fred Hampton’s legacy and, 50 years later, his words still echo… louder than ever. In theaters and streaming now.

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Speaking truth to power

We asked the cast and filmmakers of JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH to sit down with some of the activists leading the charge on today's movement for Black liberation.  Follow @Participant on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to catch the entire series.

Video Multimedia Grid

video thumbnail Daniel Kaluuya + Pastor Mike McBride

Daniel Kaluuya + Pastor Mike McBride

video thumbnail Shaka King + Linda Sarsour

Shaka King + Linda Sarsour

video thumbnail LaKeith Stanfield + DeRay McKesson

LaKeith Stanfield + DeRay McKesson