It was the morning of August 4, 1969. Chicago police and the FBI entered an apartment. They went to the bedroom and shot one of the people who were asleep. His name was Fred Hampton, a 21-year-old who slept with his nine-month-pregnant girlfriend. Hampton was the president of the Black Panthers in Illinois.

That scene is not very different from what we hear today. On September 6, 2018, Botham Jean (an African American man) was in his apartment when a female police officer entered and shot him dead. The reason? She was tired, she went to the wrong department, she thought Jean was an intruder and shot twice. It was the wound on his chest that killed him.

Botham Jean is one of the thousands of people in the African American community who have died from police brutality. And that is not counting the victims of systemic racism that keeps Afro-descendants in the last part of the pyramid of priorities for the State: health, education, housing, and security.

Illinois Black Panther Leader Fred Hampton
(Original Caption) 1968-Chicago, IL-: Fred Hampton, about 22, shown in a 1968 file photo, Illinois Chairman of the Black Panther Party and another Black Panther, who was identified as Mark Clark, 22, Peoria, IL, was killed early 12/4 in a gun battle when police entered a Chicago apartment to search for weapons. Four persons were wounded and three arrested.

he first story we told you was real and 50 years after it happened. And it could be different from Botham Jean in its motives, but the essence is the same: racism, a system that discriminates based on skin color and the limited freedom of a minority that has always faced injustices.

The death of Botham Jean, like that of Breonna Taylor or George Floyd, is the (in) direct consequence of the death of Fred Hampton in 1969, segregation, Jim Crow laws, and 400 years of slavery.

Fred Hampton, the black messiah

That is why it becomes important that in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, which emerged in May 2020 with the death of Floyd at the hands of a white policeman, a film such as Judas and the Black Messiah by director Shaka King is announced. This film was made under the production of Charles D. King ( Just Mercy and Sorry to Bother You) with  Ryan Coogler (director and screenwriter of Creed and Black Panther). 

Judas and the Black Messiah presents the life and legacy of Fred Hampton, a young black man who, based on his speeches, with special emphasis on the phrase “ I’m a revolutionary! He becomes the president of the Black Panthers in the state of Illinois.

CHECK OUT THE TRAILER FOR 'JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH' ON THE STORY OF FRED HAMPTON
Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton in ‘Judas and Black Messiah.’ / Photo: Warner Bros.

His speech on freedom has transcended for more than 50 years, and his image became a symbol of struggle and resistance in the United States. Likewise, Hampton represents not only the search for freedom and equality but also for peace among the African American community. Hampton worked on agreements between gangs in the city, inviting them to negotiate to join in the same fight, that of racism. 

Judas and the Black Messiah is starring Daniel Kaluuya, who plays Fred Hampton by Lakeith Stanfield as William O’Neal, an active member of the party who became an informant for the FBI to overthrow Hampton. He has been identified as guilty of his death.

CHECK OUT THE TRAILER FOR 'JUDAS AND THE BLACK MESSIAH' ON THE STORY OF FRED HAMPTON
Lakeith Stanfield as William O’Neal in ‘Judas and Black Messiah’. / Photo: Warner Bros.

Here is the trailer for Judas and the Black Messiah: 

Willam O’Neil, the Judas of the movement

William O’Neil was one of the most active members of the Black Panthers to such an extent that he was in charge of Hampton’s security with access to the various party safe houses. At the same time, he was an FBI informant on all of the president’s movements, and according to the reports, it was he who revealed the plan of Hampton’s house so that they could enter to assassinate him. 

On December 4, 1969 , not only did a leader who fought for the freedom and equality of black men and women in the United States died, but activist Mark Clark, who was 22 years old, was also murdered. The little information that there indicates that both received almost 100 shots under the justification that there was a response from the Panthers. But time revealed the truth: there was only one shot from the Black Panthers.

American political and social activist and Black Panther Party member Fred Hampton (1948 – 1969) raises his arms at the ‘Days of Rage’ rally, Chicago, Illinois, October 11, 1969. (Photo by David Fenton/Getty Images)

And time forced the Judas of history to redeem himself. William O’Neal drugged Hampton into a sound sleep. This is how the officers arrived, murdered the Hampton guard, and shot him while he was asleep. Surprisingly, the president had not died, so an officer shot him twice in the head. The Messiah had died. 

Seven members of the Black Panthers were arrested and charged with attempted murder, gun violence, and gun possession. However, all charges were dismissed when an investigation revealed that there was no resistance on their part, but rather an excess of violence from the agents’ side. But the damage was done.

View of a line of Black Panther Party members as they stand outside the New York City courthouse under a portion of an Abraham Lincoln quote which reads ‘The Ultimate Justice of the People,’ New York, New York, April 11, 1969. (Photo by David Fenton/Getty Images)

After Fred Hampton’s death, William O’Neal entered the FBI’s witness protection programchanged his name to William Hart, and moved to California. Relatives say that he betrayed the president of his party to reduce his years in prison, but that his true punishment was guilt. That’s why, at age 40, he took his own life: he ran into a running car and died. 

 

Amelia Warner– After graduating from NYU with a master's degree in history, She was also a columnist for many local newspapers. Amelia Warner mostly covers Entertainment topics, but at times loves to write about movie reviews as well.

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