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Black Panther icon Fred Hampton’s boyhood home facing foreclosure

Fred Hampton Jr., the son of the slain Black Panther Party leader, is making a fundraising push to avoid the foreclosure of his dad's childhood home in Maywood. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times

Fred Hampton Jr., the son of the slain Black Panther Party leader, is making a fundraising push to avoid the foreclosure of his dad's childhood home in Maywood. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times

The Maywood home where Black Panther Party icon Fred Hampton spent much of his childhood is facing foreclosure — and his son is scrambling to save it from being auctioned off next week.

Hampton’s parents bought the two-story apartment building at 804 S. 17th Ave. in 1958. It’s remained in the family since. It was passed on to Hampton’s brother, William “Bill” Hampton, after their mother Iberia Hampton passed away in 2016 and then to Fred Hampton Jr. when his uncle died in February.

Hampton Jr. said he and his organization, the Black Panther Party Cubs, have been trying to get a grasp of the house’s finances since his uncle’s death. He doesn’t know how the family fell behind on the payments for the house, but says they are $70,000 in debt.

“My family’s had to deal with a lot of pain these last two years,” said Hampton Jr., who lives in the home whose walls are adorned with photos of his dad and other Black Panther Party members. “It’s been a whirlwind.”

Court records show the scheduled auction of the home is set for 10 a.m. Oct. 23 through the Judicial Sales Corporation.

Hampton Jr., however, believes he will get the money in time before he loses the home.

“The timing is too significant for us not to pull through,” he said. “This year is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Black Panther Party in Illinois, and next year it’ll be the 50th anniversary of the killing of Fred Hampton Sr. and Mark Clark. Failure is not an option.”

Photos of Fred Hampton at his boyhood home. | Sun-Times/Nader Issa

Photos of Fred Hampton at his boyhood home. | Sun-Times/Nader Issa

Activists and community organizers have launched two online fundraisers to save the property over the last couple of weeks. Neither has gathered much steam.

Anthony Clark, a special education teacher at Oak Park-River Forest High School and a member of the Democratic Socialists of America’s Chicago chapter, started a GoFundMe campaign asking for $70,000 on Saturday, Oct. 13 to save the house.

“The house should be recognized as a historical landmark,” he said. “Fred Hampton’s legacy should be honored and remembered. Keeping the house within the Hampton family is what’s right.”

As of Tuesday night, Clark’s campaign had raised more than $1,800.

Another online fundraiser was launched by Carrol Fife, a housing advocate and organizer in Oakland, birthplace of the Black Panther Party, on Friday.

Fife’s campaign has a goal of $500,00 to shore up the debt and fund much needed repairs. That campaign has so far raised $1,300.

Hampton Jr.’s immediate goal is to get enough money to bargain for more time with the mortgage company before next week’s auction. He’s also working on transforming the house into a museum dedicated to the memory of his father.

“The children of Maywood deserve to learn about Chairman Fred Hampton,” he said.

Iberia and Francis Hampton bought the home in Maywood after moving their family from Blue Island in 1958. Their youngest son Fred was 10 at the time and attended Irving Elementary School across the street and later Proviso East High School.

He went to Triton Junior College and became a youth organizer for the NAACP’s west suburban branch. In 1968, he joined the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party. He later became chairman and he grew the chapter into one of the biggest and most influential in the nation and organized several free breakfast programs and even opened free medical clinics across Chicago.

He is also credited with forming the “Rainbow Coalition,” an alliance between the Chicago Black Panther Party, the Puerto Rican Young Lords, and the Young Patriots Organization.

In 1969, Hampton, then 21, was living in a West Side apartment when he was killed in a raid carried out by a tactical unit of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in conjunction with the Chicago Police Department and the FBI. Fellow Black Panther Mark Clark was also killed during the raid and several other members were severely injured.

At the time, officers were cleared of any wrongdoing for killing Clark and Hampton after having said they were locked in a “shoot out.” But subsequent federal investigations revealed officers had fired up to 99 shots into the  apartment with only one return shot.

In 1982, the federal government, Cook County and City Hall reached a settlement with Hampton and Clark’s mother and seven other plaintiffs for $1.85 million.

Fred Hampton Jr.

Fred Hampton Jr., the son of the slain Black Panther Party leader, is making a fundraising push to avoid the foreclosure of Hampton’s childhood home in Maywood. | Nader Issa/Sun-Times

The efforts by Hampton Jr., who was born less than a month after his father was killed, to save the home has gotten the attention of U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (7th), who said he’s pledged $1,000 to help pay off the debt in honor of the Hampton family’s contribution to the history of Chicago and the country.

“For 25 years, I’ve been going to that house for meetings and discussions surrounding the community,” Davis said in an interview Tuesday. “We’re not gonna let that house go down.”

Maywood Mayor Edwenna Perkins said she supports Hampton Jr.’s efforts in making the house a museum and hopes it stays within the family.

“This house matters because it’s good for the young people and for residents to recognize Fred Hampton’s Maywood roots,” she said.