We'll use the premiere date of this movie I am dying to see, about one of my greatest heroes in life, to drop a Black History bomb on a weekend that will feature three straight posts.
Once this is posted I'll go watch it on HBO Max, but I worked on this little accompanying project all week to coincide with its opening.
The film is called Judas and the Black Messiah, and it's all about probably the most notorious state-sponsored, extrajudicial execution in US history, at least that we know about.
Had he not been subject to the egregious atrocity that befell him, there is simply no telling what its subject might have become, and where he might have borne the rest of us on his mighty, fearless back.
There aren't too many Marxist revolutionary heroes in American history; the books are not saturated with tales of altruistic socialist warriors, committed to a never-before-achieved Communist Utopia.
The usual story arc goes that once any leader declares some sort of inclination towards wealth redistribution of any degree -- whether they be Martin Luther King or today's honoree -- the powers that desire above all else to get paid to keep that power splatter that person all over a sidewalk somewhere prominent and visible.
This, as a message to the next insurgent anti-Capitalist that might suggest there could possibly be a less destructive way to live than a system that knows the price of everything, yet the value of nothing.
It's for the sin of unapologetically articulating -- and by demonstrating, through the myriad social programs of the Black Panther Party of which he was a regional Chairman -- even the inklings of the possibility of a viable socialist alternative to Capitalism that Fred Hampton didn't live to be 22 years old.
Back in 1969 when his execution by the Chicago PD -- acting under direct orders from the uppermost echelons of the FBI -- happened, people might not have been as cognizant of the fact that US law enforcement agencies (particularly in inner city areas like Chicago) are the direct descendants of the slavecatcher patrols of the antebellum South, and contain probably upwards of 50% white supremacists, like people are becoming aware of today.
The director of this new film, even now, had to semi-deceive potential bankrollers of his project and not fully tell them his intent to make a full-on biopic all about Chairman Fred.
Which illustrates just what sort of third rail figure this man was, barely out of his teens, that 50+ years later his triumphantly tragic story would still send red flags popping off around Hollywood like unprompted bullets from the itchy trigger of a cop at a traffic stop of a Black person.
In some ways, it seems doubtful there can ever be another Fred Hampton, because today's Americans are just too selfish and inwardly-obsessed to care enough about themselves and each other to make the kind of absolute commitment to a cause greater than themselves, like he so selflessly did.
That he willingly espoused and practiced Communism, in a time where that was literally the worst possible thing for someone to be called, tells you all you need to know about how available his beliefs were to watery and centrist-complicit compromises.
If I had to bottom line it, I'd say that if there were but 100 people like him today, we and our dying world might somehow learn to stop the inexorable march to extinction for "profit".
So yeah, I made this audiofilm about him and what happened to him. It's hard to hear what he's saying at different points because the source audio was often dodgily recorded, but I structured it so the speaking parts all eventually repeat and the message -- no less relevant than it was when he was around decades ago -- can get across.
01 Fugi - Mary, Don't Take Me On No Bad Trip
02 Art Ensemble of Chicago - Theme de Yoyo (instrumental edit)
03 Joe McPhee - I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door, I'll Get It Myself)
04 Donald Byrd - Weasil
05 Monk Higgins - Collision In Black
06 Herbie Hancock - Oh Oh! Here He Comes!
07 Miles Davis - Pharoah's Dance (excerpt)
08 Brother Jack McDuff - The Vibrator
09 Bobby Hutcherson - The Creators (edit)
10 Eddie Harris - Free Speech
11 Reggie Andrews - Everyman's Brother
12 The Fourth Way - Everyman's Your Brother
13 Politicians - Free Your Mind
14 Three Sounds - Repeat After Me
15 Yusef Lateef - Livingston Playground
16 Archie Shepp - Back Back
17 Bar-Kays - Humpin'
18 Dennis Coffey - Iceberg's Thang
19 Jeremy Steig - Alias
20 James Brown - Popcorn with a Feeling
21 Shirley Scott - You
22 Grant Green - I Don't Want Nobody to Give Me Nothing (Open Up the Door, I'll Get It Myself)
23 Lou Donaldson - Say It Loud! I'm Black and I'm Proud
24 The Moonlighters - Right On Brother
Total time: 2:20:41
disc break goes after Track 10
EN radiofilm featuring Afrocentric Jazz and Soul of 1969, smashed up to documentary footage from various period sources including ABC News, CBS News, and the films The Death of a Black Panther and The Murder of Fred Hampton
795 MB FLAC/February 2021 archive link
795 MB FLAC/February 2021 archive link
I'll be Black tomorrow and Saturday, first with a tribute to someone really foundational that just passed away a few hours ago, and then Sunday with yet more Afrocentric heroism for your headphones.
Do enjoy this and if you can, try to catch the movie out Friday about Chairman Fred, who'd tell you -- had he not been summarily and illegally exterminated by some of the most corrupt, depraved and inhuman animals ever to shit on their phony, authoritarian badges -- that people learn best by observation and participation.--J.