Independent Lens


The First Rainbow Coalition

In 1969, the Chicago Black Panther Party formed alliances across ethnic and racial lines with other community-based movements in the city, including Latino group the Young Lords and southern whites the Young Patriots. Banding together in one of postwar America's most segregated cities to confront issues like police brutality and substandard housing, they called themselves the Rainbow Coalition.

AIRED: July 08, 2020 | 0:56:05

- The Rainbow Coalition is symbolic,

because we proved that it can work,

multiethnic people together,

fighting for a common cause.

- This here is the Rainbow Coalition button.

Didn't matter what color you were.

- As we worked together, we saw,

"Wow, we're really a lot stronger

if we do this together."

- The Rainbow Coalition was about uniting communities

so that we can make revolutionary change.

- Filmmaker Ray Santisteban

explores how communities banded together

in one of the most segregated cities in America.

- There was this sense of solidarity internationally.

- We were connected to the world

and uniting with all these struggles.

That was the beauty of it.

The world was on fire and we were part of that flame.

- We're gonna fight racism not with racism,

but we're gonna fight with solidarity.

- "The First Rainbow Coalition,"

now only on Independent Lens.

[uplifting music]

[suspenseful music]

- If you're white, you're right.

If you're black, stay back.

- But I don't think the majority

know how to live like the white people.

- Well, like I said, there's a place for them.

They have their own place. They could stay there.

- In Chicago, we have no ghetto

and we have no Negro ghetto.

- Chicago has the largest concentration

of Negroes in an urban ghetto

of any major city in the United States.

- The biggest and most serious problem

confronting the city of Chicago is her race problem.

- Do you think we're going to have racial warfare?

- I certainly see that coming.

- We need to teach the police,

we are citizen and that we deserve the same respect.

- People are learning to struggle together.

People are learning to fight together.

- If you say I'm black and I hate white people,

I'm white and I hate black people,

I'm Latin American and I hate hillbillies,

I'm hillbilly and I hate Indians.

So we're fighting amongst each other.

We're gonna fight racism not with racism,

but we're gonna fight it with solidarity.

[train wheels squeaking]

[wind howling]

- When I was young, I did everything

all the other gang members did

and I would get into a lot of trouble...

a rough kid.

[suspenseful ambient music]

I was in the house of correction, in the hole.

Martin Luther King gets killed

and the rioters are coming into the jail en masse.

And at the same time,

I'm hearing about the Black Panther Party

on the loudspeaker on the radio.

- We're gonna defend ourselves rightfully

with guns and bullets!

- I said that's what we need to do,

like the Black Panthers, in the Puerto Rican community.

[train clattering]

- People call me Bobby Lee, Bob Lee,

but my birth name is Robert E. Lee, Jr. III.

In the black community,

it's like naming a Jewish kid Adolf Hitler.

You gonna have a lot of fights.

I was born in Houston, Fifth Ward.

You were told how not to stare at white people.

Get off and get over

when you saw them coming down the street.

You were aware that when you left home,

you left your community,

you could be killed, you can be beaten.

Arrived in Chicago,

no, Chicago was no different.

It was segregated.

[trains creaking]

[insects chirping]

I'm from a small town in Tennessee, eastern Tennessee.

And people ask me

why I got into the revolutionary politics

and it's because of poverty.

I started to work in the field with my family

when I was about three years old.

We were very poor.

We would pool our money together

and that's how we would eat in the evening.

So I came when I was 17 years old--

looking for a better job,

a better life-- into the uptown community.

- Chicago was a really important migrant destination.

It was attracting a lot of Southern African-Americans,

Southern whites, and Puerto Ricans from the island.

There was this perception that

there were really good wages to be had in Chicago.

They were encountering a white ethnic population

that had already been settled there for many decades.

- We were from Puerto Rico

and we settled in the northern part of downtown.

[train rattling]

Lincoln Park became about 40% Latino.

[surf rock music]

Everybody was neighbors, everybody was family.

[suspenseful music]

If you were Puerto Rican

and you went into an Italian or Irish neighborhood,

you could get killed.

So there were certain boundaries that we knew,

the whole community knew, that they couldn't go there.

"We don't allow Puerto Ricans in this restaurant."

"You can't be in this beach."

The Young Lords, that's how we began fighting for our people.

A nationality gang.

And the Young Lords went looking for the fight.

We went to Benny's Pizzeria and demanded to be served.

Or going to the beach

and cracking open heads with beer bottles,

just so that we can go to the beach.

[dramatic music]

And then there was "West Side Story,"

the first movie about Puerto Ricans.

And so all the Young Lords went to the Biograph Theater,

and that's where we got our colors,

the Puerto Rican gang in the movie.

Everybody went and used red dye

and dyed their shirts purple, and that became our colors.

[suspenseful ambient music]

- When I went to Chicago,

I noticed everything was segregated;

everybody was with their own kind.

You didn't go into their community,

they don't come into your community.

And that's the way it was in uptown

because it was Southern white.

- ♪ This old world that's so hard to understand ♪

- Well, the uptown area was a slum.

It was, you know, a ghetto.

- ♪ You love so

♪ But it's wonderful to know when you leave ♪

[solemn orchestral music]

- A series of articles came out

classifying us as a very dangerous population.

We were incestuous,

we were violent, ignorant racists.

And that was the first time

I'd ever been called white trash

was when I came to Chicago.

Initially we had gotten together a street gang,

young guys who were hustling like anybody.

You cannot get a job.

I had to go in and literally sell blood

just to survive.

all: ♪ I'm working on the building ♪

- Students for a Democratic Society

came into the community

and they formed JOIN, Jobs or Income Now.

They were talking about the civil rights movement.

We started getting a political ideology.

- Trying to help the people in the neighborhood

with the landlords.

It sounded better to me

than what I was doing.

I mean, I wasn't doing nothing.

I was a kid running the street.

[suspenseful ambient music]

- I want to show you what has happened to the neighborhoods

surrounding the Negro community.

This is the Negro community as it existed in 1950.

The green color is the Negro community

as it existed in 1960; it doubled its size.

This area cannot take any Negroes

because it will be inundated and never integrated.

- Right! - We're not going to take it.

[crowd shouting]

- When you looked at a map

that showed the South Side and the West Side

joining in a gigantic L,

that is the largest contiguous area

of 90 or more percent black population

in the world outside of Africa.

Segregation in Chicago was locked in.

Mayor Daley had used

virtually every instrument of government

to keep it segregated.

[ominous music]

- Daley, who served as mayor from 1955 to 1976,

was, at his peak, the most powerful,

the most influential urban figure in America.

- From the Cook County Democratic Party

down to the precinct captains,

it was a well-oiled machine,

the Democratic political machine.

- Chicago was known for a long, long time

as one of the most segregated cities in America.

What Daley did is not to challenge that on any level,

and that was very important for him politically

because so much of his base were extremely resistant

to the idea of blacks moving into their neighborhoods,

and Daley served their interests.

[ominous music]

- Now is the time

to get rid of the slums and ghettos of Chicago.

Now is the time.

We must realize that there must be alliances now

between Negroes and white people of good will

to get rid of poverty that engulfs so much of our nation.


[crowd shouting]

I've been in many demonstrations

all across the South,

but I can say that I have never seen,

even in Mississippi and Alabama,

mobs as hostile and as hate-filled

as I have seen in Chicago.

- Oh, yes!

It's definitely a closed society

and we're gonna make it an open society.

- The white flight went to the suburbs

to flee minorities coming into the communities,

and Mayor Daley wanted to bring them back into the city.

Urban renewal was a racist plan

and supported by the federal government with funds.

[machinery chugging]

- I would hope that tomorrow,

every slum building in Chicago would be demolished

and we'd have a decent home for every family.

This is the aim of the present administration

and we're gonna go through with it.

- We were just talking on the street corner and at the bars

about how the neighborhood was changing and that.

And then we found out about a meeting

at the Community Conservation Council.

We walked in there;

there was a model display with areas that are vacant,

and these were Puerto Rican areas.

And we saw nothing but

about 12 white men there directing the meetings,

so we told them,

"No more meetings here

"unless you have black, Latino,

and poor white representation in your council."

And they looked at us like we were crazy.

So to prove our point,

we picked up chairs and started throwing them around,

tore up all the plumbing, trashed the entire place.

We shut down the Department of Urban Renewal

for about three months.

That was a victory. [chuckles]

- I come from a people in the neighborhood

that never worried about threats from anyone.

And as far as... - I know, but have you--

- I'm concerned, there'll be law and order in this town

as long as I'm mayor.

- What were you doing when this rookie cop hit you?

- I wasn't doing anything.

I wasn't doing anything.

- Police brutality.

Police everywhere aggravating everybody.

[siren wailing]

And just any reason to get us in that police station.

[siren wailing]

And they had a bench...

with the handcuff on the side

so they can cuff you

and beat the [bleep] out of you

with a phone book

or whatever they wanted to hit you with,

as long as they didn't leave any marks.

[sirens wailing]

- They were free to do their own activities,

whatever they want, you know,

to treat people any way they wanted to treat them.

And we knew that we could either give up

or we could fight, so we decided we'd fight.

[dramatic music]

- You would get beat up before you even walked in the jail.

I just got beat up, you know, that was it,

and I had to accept it.

Who do I complain to?


[fire crackling]

- When King was killed, all of us was affected.

There was rage, there was anger.

[gunfire and sirens wailing]

- Shoot to kill any arsonists

or anyone with a Molotov cocktail

in their hand in Chicago.

[foreboding music]

[crowd shouting]

- Daley showed his power through the use of his police

during the Democratic Convention, 1968.

That was Daley.

- No one lost their lives in Chicago.

And all I did was what I thought was my duty

under the Constitution and under my oath of office.

I've never tolerated brutality.

- The Democratic Convention,

we had seen the hippies being beaten in Lincoln Park.

We could relate to that.

What was going on in the Vietnam War,

Martin Luther King and Malcolm X being killed,

our families being evicted from their homes.

All that affected us and awakened us.

The Young Lords started transforming themselves

from a gang into a human rights movement.

The mission was self-determination

for Puerto Rico.

That meant that we were powerful as a people,

as a nation, to promote a sense of pride

for being Puerto Rican.

And we wanted neighborhood empowerment.

[pensive piano music]

[train creaking]

- What we have to do now is pull ourselves together

into a functioning groupof people

who could go outand rebel against them.

- See, one of the things

that's good aboutthe Young Patriots

is, they're all interested in the problems they got here,

you know, and they want to change them.

We're gonna be patriotic to the community,

not necessarily patriotic to the system.

That's our way of being patriotic.

If we're gonna try to help our community,

then we are patriots.

- I'm the deputy chairman

of the state of Illinois Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton.

all: Right on!

- We're not a racist organization

because we understand

that racism is an excuse used for capitalism.

It's a by-product of capitalism.

- Fred was such a powerful speaker

that, you know,

once people heard Fred speak,

they were just, you know, drawn.

We want freedom.

We want the power to determine our own destiny.

That's the first point.

We want true education, decent housing.

We want people to have fair trials

with a jury of their peers.

We want an end to police brutality.

Pretty much the same things

that ring true now, unfortunately.

- Everybody in the state of Illinois

is gonna have to be involved or even around the revolution,

'cause we're gonna have one.

- For all of us in the party,

Fred Hampton was someone we all respected.

- We, the Black Panther Party,

at this time is a political self-defense,

a military, armed political unit.

That's the definition of the Black Panther Party.

- You could touch Fred. He was a servant leader.

He read a lot.

And I was very impressed.

- There's no educational program here?

- No. - You know, are you...

- Fred came to me, as his field secretary,

and he said, "Lee, you handle the North Side."

[trains clattering]

[disconsolate ambient music]

- One day, Bob Lee said,

"Hey, man, I want you to take a ride with me tonight.

"We got to go to this place called Uptown.

I need you to be my security man."

- They were poor, man. Uptown was a slum.

You could smell it.

See, you could smell a slum.

- We all went to this community meeting

with the JOIN organization.

- Panthers are here.

Are here.

Panthers are here. - Yeah.

- For Uptown. - Okay.

We come here with our hearts open

for you cats to supervise us where we can be of help to you.

What do you want in your community?

What do you want here?

Are you afraid?

You want us to take the berets off, man,

or what, man?

- There were a lot of suspicions

about the Black Panthers,

that they were gun-carrying terrorists.

- It was a scenario that I had never been in before.

I see some guys with Confederate flag patches.

I was a little concerned.

- See, the thing we got to deal with

is the concept of poverty, man.

We got to erase the color thing, see?

- These buildings are not fit for dogs to live in,

but humans have to be pay $144 a month for the thing.

They sold the building, you know, to new ownership.

What we need is understanding among the people,

coalition between the people

to stick together and take them owners

and put them over here in the lake somewhere.

- Right on!


Once you realize, man,

that your house is funky with rats and roaches,

you know, same way a black dude's house is,

you know, once you realize

that your brothers have been brutalized by the cops,

the same way the West Side and South Side is,

once you realize that you are paying taxes,

taxes for the cops to whup your ass!

You're paying them!

- Yeah, man.

- You're paying them to kill you!

You deal with that.

The same things happen on the South Side...

- Bob Lee turned out to be quite an organizer.

And he says, "Yeah, my name is Bobby Lee,

but my real name is Robert E. Lee."


And we all laughed.

We said, "You gotta be kidding me!"

- Who's here that want to see this thing move?

- Yeah, man.

- Right on, well, the first thing we talk about now

is how we're gonna organize,

you know, where are we gonna organize?

- And, you know, we're all gonna

get run out of here eventually.

That was a good meeting.

It was. It got everybody...

It got everybody riled up.

It was a good start to a coalition.

- We worked very, very hard in the Uptown community.

It was two weeks.

We went there every day, every night.


[heavy ambient music]

Here is a white community

asking for help from the Black Panther Party, man.

I knew that this was serious.

[dramatic music]

- We went to the 18th District police station

as a community.

We locked the doors and we pushed them to the side

and we spoke.

It was a nonviolent takeover of a police workshop meeting.

The very next day, it came out in the news

and that's when we met Fred Hampton.

We were talking about how we can work together.

Then they told us about

the Young Patriots in the North Side.

- We said that we'll work with anybody

and form coalitions with anybody

that has revolution on their mind.

- We called a coalition meeting...

[suspenseful music]

To bring them all together.

It came together, man.

We all sat together, warriors.

We looked good, boy.

- This here is a Rainbow Coalition button,

and there's white, brown, yellow, red, and black.

It didn't matter what color you were.

You wore this with pride.

- The Rainbow Coalition was about uniting communities

so that we can make revolutionary change.

Our communities were all struggling for the same cause.

In unity, there was force.

- Urban Southern whites with Puerto Ricans and blacks.

I don't think there had ever been anything that substantial

in any urban environment.

What was going on in your neighborhood,

the same thing was going on in my neighborhood, you know?

And how you gonna change that?

You ain't gonna change it

by hating the people in the other neighborhood.

But the fastest way to change that

was for those neighborhoods to come together.

Housing issues, police brutality,

just being fed up.

That's what we could all agree on.

- The Panther Party in Chicago,

they're not only organizing the Young Lords.

They're creating coalitions

with another vanguard revolutionary group

called the Young Patriots.

Poor white people

have begun to relate to the ten-point platform and program

of the Black Panther Party.

The young Appalachian white people.

- That flag meant blood and murder.

Who in the [bleep] wanted to be around that flag, man?

Let's be realistic now.

- I just want to deal with black and black liberation.

Everybody gets uptight

when a few honkies get their heads beat.

What did they do when we was getting our heads beat?

- So you had some Panthers that couldn't handle it, man.

They couldn't handle it.

They left.

- We always had the flag.

We were brought up with the Confederate flag.

We were trying to confront people on their racism.

You know, wear the flag with the "Black Power"

or "Free Huey" and it would spark up conversations.

The contradiction makes people think.

Fred Hampton understood what we were trying to do

and therefore he welcomed it into the Rainbow Coalition

and allowed us to even go to rallies wearing that flag.

- If you gonna organize with folks...

you first respect

their top values.

- We started going around with him.

He took us under his wing

and basically helped us, you know, guided us.

- We say to pig Daley, hammerhead Hanrahan,

pig Conners, and the rest,

no more brothers will be taken from us without cause.

- Class consciousness cuts across

all kinds of strata.

For poor white people to be working

with poor black people was unheard of.

- Black people and white poor people

and red poor people and Puerto Rican poor people

and Latin American poor people

and poor people of all descents,

they have them caught up in movements based on racism

when the Black Panther Party stood up and said

that we don't care what anybody says.

We're gonna fight racism not with racism,

but we're gonna fight it with solidarity.

- This was during the peak of the Black Power era.

The revolutionary struggle that we were envisioning

was to eliminate racism.

And in order to eliminate racism,

you couldn't practice racism.

- We came together as true brothers and sisters

to stand up together.

- The motto of the Black Panther Party

was, "All power to all the people."

Not all power

to some of the people, all the people.

- Come on in, little sisters. Y'all can sit down.

- Children were going to school hungry,

and there were no federal programs for that.

And the Black Panther Party was the first group I saw

that was talking about taking control of your own destiny.

Instead of just asking people for something,

it was like, "Okay, if our kids are starving,

then let's give them breakfast."

- ♪ We got the free breakfast program ♪

all: ♪ Free breakfast program

- They showed us the importance of programs.

We set up a free breakfast for children program,

a free health clinic and dental clinic,

a free clothing program, a food pantry.

Something that the government, Mayor Daley was not doing.

all: ♪ All of these people

- ♪ We got the free health clinic ♪

all: ♪ Free health clinic

- ♪ Cure sick people

- We started working with the coalition

and were able to get resources from that

to set up a free health clinic.

- We're feeding 3,000 to 4,000 every week already

and I don't know how many all around the country.

We're out there every day and educating.

People learn by example.

I don't think anybody has an argument with that.

And I think the Black Panther Party is doing that.

- It was not a disciplined organization

but more of a symbolic mass movement

that was trying to bring in more and more people

into the coalition.

- The idea of the Rainbow Coalition

made a lot of sense to us and we promoted that.

We talked about Fred Hampton a lot.

- These experiments were happening

all over the country.

In Chicago, there was another organization

called Rising Up Angry.

They organized all over Chicago.

There were rainbow coalitions,

small R and small C rainbow coalitions

all over the place

that included groups like the American Indian Movement,

like the Brown Berets.

- As we worked together, we saw,

"Wow, we're really a lot stronger

if we do this together."

And it made us think that if we really want to change society,

we all had to come together

and support each other's struggles.

- It just felt natural that you would struggle

with other people who have been marginalized

and who have been held down and who have been oppressed.

[crowd chanting] Poor people power!

Poor people power!

- Whether you're from the south, north, east, or west,

whether you're a Negro, hillbilly, or Yankee,

we're gonna stand here and fight together.

Mr. Daley can take his money and his machine,

his Uptown can take his money and his machine,

and go straight to H-E-you-know-where with it.

[cheers and applause]

- There's been trouble, there's gonna be more trouble,

and we're gonna continue to have more trouble.

You see, people are gonna--

are learning to struggle together.

People are learning to fight together.

And I don't think that's trouble, you know.

I think that's self-defense, you know.

I think we're defending ourselves, you know.

I think the trouble has already come

when urban removal came to this neighborhood.

[crowd shouting and chanting]

- The Black Panthers,

we're gonna run this black community!

We are not gonna compromise!

- There was this sense of solidarity internationally.

These are communities who are struggling

for very much of the same goals: end to oppression.

- We were connected to the world

and uniting with all these struggles.

That was the beauty of it.

The world was on fire and we were part of that flame.

[grim ambient music]

- It appeared to me they wanted the white community

to think that they could be violent

if they had to on behalf of their people,

so don't mess with our people.

They were meant to scare the police,

but it was turned against them.

It played right into the hands of Daley to say,

"You see how these violent people are?"

- We're talkingabout revolution.

- This was a complete challenge to the structure, you know?

It wasn't saying, "Let us in."

That was not, you know--

that was not the position of the Rainbow Coalition.

We didn't want in, so he didn't have a handle on us.


[train wheels grinding]

- Every meeting that's been held in Threshold's hall

has been observed by the Red Squad and photographed

because I've watched them.

I want to know what the purpose of this is.

- The Red Squad,

they take your picture,

just as these people are taking my picture here.

[ominous music]

- The Red Squad.

Their purpose was to identify

and observe and even arrest

people that were considered

to be communist or socialist or on the Red side.

- They tried to discredit us.

You know, "These guys are criminals.

They're being arrested."

So that's the image that people would get

in the community.

[indistinct shouting]

- The police department's Gang Intelligence Unit--

the unit that I was in formed a Panther Squad.

We were at this particular rally.

Some kind of way, the grumbling was,

"There's a lot of pigs in here," you know?

So from the front of the room,

Fred Hampton said, "Will the pigs please leave?"


So about six people got up

and we all kind of eyeballed each other in there,

scattered out, then we started to talk amongst ourselves.

What this mind-set was

and how threatening was it really

to just everyday police work?

And it wasn't.

It was a threat to misconduct. It really was.

[dreamy ambient music]

- Counterintelligence Program,

it was spying on groups to disrupt forces

that we found objectionable.

That's what we did.


a good word is neutralize.

Black Panthers, you know, all these groups,

they were the enemy.

There was a mind-set,

we were gonna lose the country, you know?

It's us versus them and we worked with the police.

We all generally thought the same way.

- There's been a glorification

of this gang structure

and that's why it's so serious today.

Here's the state's attorney. He can--

- Hanrahan was very tight with Mayor Daley.

He was one of his cronies.

He wanted to destroy us.

He declared a war on gangs.

- They are brutalizing their own neighbors.

- They were not criminals

even though the Chicago Police Department

lumped them together with street gangs.

It allowed the police department to chase them

as if they were gang members.

[discordant ambient music]

- Reverend Johnson has madean offer about the first...

- Reverend Bruce Johnson was the pastor of the church

that became the headquarters of the Young Lords.

- We do not consider it a youth gang.

We consider it a viable community organization.

- We began working immediately with the church.

- And we're already begun taking in applications

for children-- for the children's center.

- Now the city of Chicago began attacking the reverend

like they were attacking the Young Lords

and they began fining him $200 a day

every day that the Young Lords remained at the church.

All we wanted was to get some help for our community.

[suspenseful music]

- In the Gang Intelligence Unit, our unit,

this is all gang crime stuff.

They went in where the people

were doing the breakfast program,

busted eggs out of the refrigerator on the walls.

They poured flour and bust eggs in the flour.

They unnecessarily set back something

that was a legitimate breakfast program.

But that dry run, they were so frustrated

because of who they were looking for

was not there that day.

And that was the day I decided

that I didn't want to be in that unit anymore.

- The reason whywe haven't been able

to open a day care centeris because the city

has found ridiculous violationsin the buildings

such as the floor is too lowor the ceiling is too high.

They knew that we were going to begin to get

a lot more support from the community

and the only way that they could stop us

was by using bureaucracy.

I think thatthey should also

look around insome of those apartments

where the children will have to stay,

you know, where they are getting lead poisoning,

and not in a church

where we are trying to take care of them.

[siren wails]

- It turned out to be a very powerful coalition.

It was kind of making them look bad.

- We hear constantly the attack on the establishment

as though it is some invisible force

that does nothing good for the community and for the country.

I have no apology to make to anyone for our country.

- To a great extent,

I think Daley was simply unable to understand

a lot of the societal changes at that time.

Perplexed, frustrated, he fell back on repression.

- This three-day conference may well be the turning point

for what has up to this point

been an increasing but loosely organized

revolutionary phenomenon

that will probably streamline and solidify

what is now called "The Movement."

- Now, we come from Chi-town.

We come from a monster.

We come from a monster.

And the jaws of the monster...

in Chicago

are grinding up the flesh...

and spitting out the blood

of the poor and oppressed people,

blacks in the South Side, West Side,

and the browns on the North Side

and the reds and the yellows

and, yes, the whites.

And we got together, the Young Lords

and the Young Patriots

and the Black Panther Party in Illinois,

and we said, "Now, what are we gonna do?"

And we said...

"We're gonna intensify the struggle, mother[bleep]."

[cheers and applause]

- I was in the hole in Double Lock,

which is where they usually put me in the jail.

The warden of the jail came

and he took me to his apartment

and he put the TV on.

- This being the first Sunday since the Reverend

and Mrs. Bruce Johnson were murdered--

- He was stabbed 17 times and his wife 9 times

because he wanted to work with the Young Lords.

I believe that's why he was killed.

[gun cocking]

- We're praying that Hanrahan leads the charge.

- Before a raid, the police would hit the field...

[siren wails]

Start arresting people.

[tires squealing]

The postman's face would change.

You knew they were coming.

I would be lying if I said that we wasn't afraid.

- I tried, man, but I just wish they would come tonight.

- Yeah, well, I want them to come.

- Hey, man, who was that?

- We had two attacks on our office.

- We wasn't raided this time.We were attacked, man.

You can look at the windows, man.

- Was there a fire in the, uh--

- They set a fire after they got through.

- November, Spurgeon Jake Winters

got into a shoot-out

on South Side with the police.

And, uh...


He shot two police, who died, and they...

shot him about 1,000 times.

So you have those type of developments going on,

it's difficult to have

not only an organization but a coalition.

You know?

- The police were harder on us when we were political

than when we were in a gang.

If we were in a gang, we would be picked up

on a Friday, released Monday.

When we were political,

they were talking about life in jail.

Yeah, I think that the issue here

is that judgesand the state's attorney

have been working withthe GI Unit and everyone else

to try to suppressthe Young Lords organization

who are trying to speak out.

You know,we're a poor organization.

I had 18 charges on me.

They were all felonies

for mob action and other demonstrations.

Basically lived at the courthouse,

and so did Chairman Fred Hampton

and some of the other leadership.

[gospel choir singing]

- And why they want to get rid of me?

Because I'm saying something that might wake up

some other exploited people or some other oppressed people,

and if all these people ever get together,

then these pigs that are exploiting us,

we'll be able to run them into the lake.

That's why they want to get rid of us.

[gospel choir singing]

- We went to jail together.

They put us in the same hole

to segregate us from the rest of the population.

They were afraid that we would

organize the rest of the jail population.

- I'm out on appeal for a trumped-up robbery

and we got around nine people still locked up in jail.

It's not a question of nonviolence or violence.

The question is between resistance to this fascism

or even nonexistence within fascism.


one of the aspects of that program

was to prevent the rise

of what they call a "messiah"

that could have the ability and charisma

to bring together and to further empower groups.

- We say all power to all people.

all: All power to all people.

- We say white power to white people.

all: White power to white people.

- Brown power to brown people.

all: Brown power to brown people.

- Yellow power to yellow people.

all: Yellow power to yellow people.

- Black power to black people.

all: Black power to black people.

- X power for those of you left out.

all: X power for those left out.

- The 20-year-old chairman

of the Illinois Black Panther Party, Fred Hampton,

was shot and killed in a predawn shoot-out

with state's attorney's police in his West Side apartment.

Another party member,

22-year-old Mark Clark of Peoria,

also died in the shoot-out.

- Chicago police, COINTELPRO,

Red Squad,

they were all collectively responsible

for the murder of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark

and the wounding of others.

- Chicago police took 'em out.

If they didn't want you around,

you weren't gonna be around.

And that's the way it worked back then,

and it was scary.

I went home and got my gun out, and I sat there.

I sat there and waited.

I didn't know what the next move was gonna be.

Nobody did.

- When Fred Hampton was killed around 4:00 in the morning,

they were calling us.

That's when I found out about it

and we took a group to the apartment.

People from all over the city came to be witnesses

in case the police came back to remove any items.

[dramatic orchestral music]

- Government couldn't make him and couldn't destroy him.

They shot him and he multiplied.

- I recall Jesse Jackson speaking.

- More than we need mourning...

- I tried to--tried to not show any emotion,

act like a macho.

- Fred...

this is a good way to go.

- When he finished,

I just couldn't hold it anymore.

I just went into tears.

A lot of people underestimated what the government would do

to oppress a real, true poor people's movement.

- And what did he do? He formed coalitions.

That's what he did.

- I am personally grieved over the death of Fred Hampton

because he was a personal friend of mine.

So it is that those who are symbolic

of challenging America's injustice

tend to have to die unless we make a real radical

and revolutionary change in this society.

- They sprayed this wall with .30-caliber machine gun fire.

They shot people who were on the bed asleep.

[tense music]

- The physical appearance of this apartment

does not reveal any shooting out.

It reveals shooting in.

- All indications to me, personally,

that this was obviously a political assassination.

- By whom? - By whom?

- Who was there? - Ordered by whom?

- I have no idea.

Who does the state's attorney get their orders from?

These bumbling police officers that carried that out,

I don't even think they thought

they were committing a crime.

I think they thought they could get away with murdering people.

- Witnesses who have seen the apartment

say there is no evidence of bullets

from the direction where the Panthers supposedly were to be.

- I said that

after our officers announced their purpose

and their station several times,

they were fired upon from within the room.

- Hanrahan, a good Irishman like that,

I'm on his side. [chuckles]


My kind of guy, that was the thought.

These are bad guys, they're after us,

they're hoodlums, and they're fair game.

- They knew exactly what they were doing, you know.

They weren't killing Fred Hampton, you know.

They were killing the whole movement.

[ethereal ambient music]

- People were confused. There was chaos.

People didn't know which way to go.

People began to turn on each other.

And it forced us as an organization

to completely go underground.

- If Cha Cha is underground, Fred dead,

they created the nexus.

So it was a down time, man. It was bad.

[train creaking]

- All of us had to go on our own separate ways.

I had gone back to my hometown

and had gotten harassed there.

They considered me to be a communist.

It always followed us around everywhere we were.

- Everybody was losing contact.

Everybody was spreading all over the country.

A lot of areas were displaced, you know, gentrified,

so people had to move,

so we lost contact for many years.

Bit by bit, we were regaining some of the contacts back.

- I talked to Bobby Lee.

He was telling me that he just doesn't feel very good.

He called me... [sniffles]

A couple of days and said he had...


and that he was...

he's not gonna take any chemo.

And that's why I knew I had to come, you know, here.

- Good to see you, my brother. - Hy Thurman!

- How you doing, Mr. Panther?

Hey, brother. - Love and peace to you, man.

- Yeah, you too.

Man, it's good to see you.

- Who would dream that you and I would be together today?

- Yeah, I don't know.

- You know?

And Cha Cha coming behind, Rainbow Coalition Part 2.

- Mr. Robert E. Lee, sir.[laughs]


- All power to the people, man.

- Oh, man. - This is it, oh, yeah.

- How Fred would say it, you can kill a revolutionary

but you can't kill a revolution.

- That's right.

- And we're an example of that.

both: All power to the people.

- Faiza. - Yeah?

- These are the warriors. - Mm-hmm.

You know, they're in the room. - Mm-hmm.

- You know,

you have white Panthers and you have black Panthers.

- You havePuerto Rican Panthers too.

They're just calledYoung Lords.

- Yeah. - They're just a subsidiary.


- We didn't know that we were gonna be lifelong friends,

but we've ended up being lifelong friends.

- We're leaving pretty soon.

I just wanted to know,

what do you want meand other people to remember?

- Just keep serving the people, man.

You know, for just three or four hours a day,

you do something.

You know, like my mom would say,

"Save your own soul, son.

Do something for somebody."

And that's pretty much how simple it is, man.

- He didn't really see skin color.

He saw more of the people inside,

the power that people could have

to unite and to love each other,

and that's what he wanted.

[deep ominous music]

- It was a display of violence

that caused a state of emergency

to be issued in Virginia.

- Now the same white nationalist group plans

to hold two rallies right here in middle Tennessee.

- This must be the area that they're coming from over here.

I think that's the checkpoint

of the Nazis and the white supremacists there.

- Tell me what democracy looks like!

all: This is what democracy looks like!

- Tell me what diversity looks like!

all: This is what diversity looks like!

all: White lives matter! White lives matter!

- The Young Patriots in Chicago

discontinued the use of the Confederate flag.

We got into the Rainbow Coalition,

we had to take a completely different look

at the meaning of that flag.

After a point, we thought

there's no use for that flag here anymore.

What that flag really stands for is hate.

[wind howling]

[train clattering]

- On December 4, 1972, I ended up turning myself in,

which was the date Fred Hampton was killed.

Intentionally turned myself in

to let people know that the reason I was coming back

was to continue our movement, the Rainbow Coalition.

[heartening ambient music]

- We didn't think that elections

were gonna give us revolution,

but we saw it as a tool to continue the struggle.

My campaign for alderman

was used as an organizing vehicle for change.

- We did voter registration drives.

That was the first time that many Latinos were voting.

- Hanrahan, he was on the ballot to run for reelection.

Members of the Rainbow Coalition

circulated petitions asking for people

to make a commitment of conscience,

to remember that he had been behind the murder

of Fred Hampton and Mark Clark.

- The entire black community revolted

and voted for a Republican state's attorney.

- There's nothing I hate worse than defeat, Bob,


but you can't, uh-- you can't, uh,

roll over and cry.

- That began a fracturing of the grip

that the machine held on the community.

It was the last of the big city machines

to be cracked in any way.

- When the curtain comes down,

and it's bound to someday,

I'll just say I did the best I could.

[train creaking and clattering]

- That concept of the Rainbow Coalition,

it brought a lot of people together.

The concept helped elect Harold Washington

mayor of Chicago.

- Blacks, whites, Hispanics

have joined hands to form a new Democratic coalition.

- The Rainbow Coalition, it presented a possibility.

You know, it gave us a vision for what could be

in terms of interracial politics.

- Our flag is red, white, and blue,

but our nation is rainbow.

Red, yellow, brown, black, and white.

- They are the members of what Jesse Jackson calls

his Rainbow Coalition.

- The idea of the rainbow, I think that was a beautiful,

beautiful notion of repudiating racism,

that groups could acknowledge their common problems

despite the huge legacy

of racial antagonism and racial hostility

that existed in a place like Chicago.

It's phenomenal.

- I think that the time will come when the people themselves

will take the power that belongs to them

into their hands and move.

Racial profiling has to stop, Mr. Speaker.

Just because someone wears a hoodie

does not make them a hoodlum.

- Barack Obama came to Chicago

because he heard about the rainbow politics

and Harold Washington.

- I think, at the time, we had some romantic notion

of what the revolution would be.

Clearly that didn't happen,

but that doesn't mean that we didn't revolutionize society.

It's still in the psychic memory of people in Chicago.

We still have the hope that we can come back together

and fight to change things.

- They didn't beat us.

I don't want nobody to think that.

They didn't beat us.

We did what we set out to do.

We made a better community.

- The Rainbow Coalition gave voice to the voiceless,

and their activism demonstrated that ordinary people

can change society through collective action.

- Today many of the cities are facing the same issues

of housing, of police brutality,

of poor health care.

The Rainbow Coalition is symbolic

because we proved that it can work,

multiethnic people together fighting for a common cause.

- You're listening to WLPN-LP Chicago, 105.5 FM.

- You know, the whole concept of coalition politics

is what propelled us to another level of consciousness.

- Fred was saying, we didn't start the movement.

We're not gonna finish it.

We're part of a protracted struggle

that's gonna continue on.

- That's still going on, yeah.

- And so we need to reenergize ourselves

and continue to struggle and go forward.

- Right on.

- Bobby Lee, before he passed away,

he told me,

"If you don't know where to start organizing,

"you walk to your front door and you look in front of you,

"you look behind you,

"you look to the left, you look to the right,

and then you pick a direction."

[train creaking]

[dramatic music]


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