It is with great pride that the Chicago Film Archives joins forces with the UCLA Film and Television Archive in the presentation of The Murder of Fred Hampton.
CFA’s goal is to provide and preserve alternative perspectives to our collective past through twentieth century sights and sounds. We believe that to gain a better understanding of ourselves, our neighbors and our future, we must carefully consider our collective and various histories. It is in this light we present this extraordinary and timely feature-length documentary from CFA’s Film Group Collection.
We are also thrilled to partner with the UCLA Film and Television Archive in this programming. The film has special and personal meaning to both archives in light of our connections to the filmmakers and their families.
In 2017 the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s senior film preservationist Jillian Borders wrote on this film, “The Murder of Fred Hampton has never felt so relevant. It serves as a document of the late 1960s, but it is impossible not to draw comparisons to the film’s representation of the Black Panther Party, which started as a way to fight police brutality towards young Black men, and today’s Black Lives Matter movement sparked by police shootings of African American youth.”
Following the screening, Dr. Jakobi Williams, author of From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics, will lead a conversation with panelists Black Panther Party member Henry “Poison” Gaddis; Black Panther Party member and Executive Director of Hope and a Home, Lynn French; and attorney and founding partner of the People’s Law Office, Flint Taylor.
ABOUT THE PANELISTS
Dr. Jakobi Williams is the Ruth N. Halls Associate Professor in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies and the Department of History at Indiana University-Bloomington. He is a Civil Rights, Black Power, Social Justice, and African American history scholar. He has provided more than one hundred invited lectures domestically and abroad on the subjects of Civil Rights and social justice movements. He has served as a consultant regarding Civil Rights issues and history for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Southern Poverty Law Center, The National Civil Rights Museum, The Social Justice Initiative at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and the Kairos-Center for Religion, Rights, and Social Justice—which helped to found the New Poor People’s Campaign led by Rev. Barber. Dr. Williams’ most recent book From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago was published by the University of North Carolina Press under the John Hope Franklin Series. His other peer reviewed publications have appeared in the Journal for Civil and Human Rights; Black Perspectives; Black Women, Gender, and Families; Journal of Pan African Studies; University of Georgia Press; University of Wisconsin Press; and the New Press. His work can also be found in Jacobin Magazine, Tikkun, Mother Jones, Gawker, Vox, and the Indianapolis Star. Dr. Williams’ most recent awards include the Black Metropolitan Research Consortium Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Humanities grant, the National Humanities Center fellowship, and the Big Ten Academic Alliance-Academic Leadership Program award. He received his BA in History from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, MA in African American Studies and PhD in History from UCLA. He has held faculty positions at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the University of Kentucky.
Lynn C. French was a member of the Black Panther Party from 1968 until 1973, working in Chicago as well as Oakland and Berkeley, California. In the Party she worked in a variety of areas including newspaper circulation, labor, finance, breakfast programs, food and clothing giveaways. She walked the picket line during the Bill Boyette boycott in Oakland and was instrumental in starting childcare centers in Berkeley and Chicago.
After leaving the Party, French lived and worked in Cambridge, Massachusetts, from 1973 until 1976, where she co-founded and co-administered the International Day Care Center. During those years she also was employed as the Cambridge-Somerville Community Representative for the Massachusetts Office for Children.
Since graduating from law school in 1979, French has worked in community development and housing policy in Washington, DC, focusing on equitable alternatives to gentrification. She worked at the Council of the District of Columbia until 1987, drafting legislation and supporting the work of two Council Members in a variety of bills affecting rent control, the Comprehensive Plan, community parks and most notably drafting the Homestead Housing Preservation Act of 1987.
French joined the DC Department of Housing and Community Development in 1987 as Homestead Program Administrator. She served in that capacity until 2001, thereby reclaiming over 2,000 formerly substandard and dilapidated housing units in both single family houses and apartment buildings and facilitating their renovation and sale to low- and moderate-income first time homebuyers.
From 2001 until her retirement from city government in 2006, French served as Senior Policy Advisor for Homeless and Special Needs Housing in the Executive Office of the Mayor. She led the team that drafted Homeless No More: A Strategy for Ending Homelessness in Washington, DC, by 2014. During these years Ms. French also coordinated implementation of sweeping improvements in shelter conditions and facilitated the development of supportive housing.
French now serves as Executive Director of Hope and a Home, Inc., a transitional housing program for low-income, homeless families – supporting their efforts to break the cycle of poverty and achieve self-sufficiency and independence. She also works with tenant groups and nonprofits seeking to develop affordable housing.
French, a District of Columbia native, completed her elementary and high school education in Washington, DC. She graduated with honors from Wellesley College and earned her Juris Doctorate at the University of Virginia Law School, where she was an Earl Warren Scholar.
Henry “Poison” Gaddis is a native of the South Side of Chicago. Gaddis began his foray into social justice activism while still a student in elementary school. At the age of nine, Gaddis led a march with A. Phillip Randolph, Roy Wilkins, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and 10,000 others on the 1960 Republican National Convention at the Chicago Amphitheatre to demand that a civil rights plank be included as part of the Republican Party platform. In the fall of 1968, while enrolled at Northeastern Illinois State College, Gaddis traveled to East St. Louis, IL to attend the Illinois Chapter of the NAACP State Convention. Also in attendance was the newly elected Chairman of NAACP Youth Council, Fred Hampton. As a result of this encounter and impressed by Hampton’s eloquence and world view, Gaddis agreed to join the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party (ILBPP) and served on the Chicago Central staff. He was commissioned as Foreign Service Officer in 1980 by President Jimmy Carter and went on to serve in various assignments including United States Consul to the Republic of Cote D’Ivoire. Gaddis has traveled to six continents, worked in several countries, and served as an advocate for issues affecting the African diaspora. Throughout his professional career, Gaddis has had a variety of experiences including serving as a Boy Scouts of America District Executive, Deputy Coroner of Allegheny County Pennsylvania, and as Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at Texas Southern University. He currently resides with his family in Houston, Texas and is a volunteer with the Harris County Aquatics Program.
G. Flint Taylor, a graduate of Brown University and Northwestern Law School, is a founding partner of the People’s Law Office in Chicago, an office which has been dedicated to litigating civil rights, police violence, government misconduct, and death penalty cases for 45 years. Among the landmark cases that Mr. Taylor has litigated are the Fred Hampton Black Panther case; the Greensboro, North Carolina case against the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis; the Ford Heights Four case in which four innocent men received a record $36 million settlement for their wrongful conviction and imprisonment; and a series of cases arising from a pattern and practice of police torture and cover-up by former Chicago police commander Jon Burge, former Mayor Richard M. Daley, former State’s Attorney Richard Devine, and numerous other police and government officials, five of which have been settled against the City of Chicago and Cook County for a total of approximately $26 million.
Taylor’s work in fighting against police torture in Chicago over the past 29 years has been instrumental in obtaining the conviction and imprisonment of police torture ringleader Jon Burge and the precedent setting decision that upheld the inclusion of former Mayor Richard M. Daley as a co-conspiring defendant in the Tillman civil rights case. He also worked with the movement to obtain reparations for 60 survivors of Chicago police torture. He has also represented Nanci Koschman in her case against the CPD and SAO for covering up the truth about the death of her son in order to protect the Daley family, was one of the lead lawyers in obtaining a $5 million settlement for 74 victims of illegal strip and body cavity searches by the Milwaukee Police Department, and now represents three victims of torture and abuse at the CPD’s secret interrogation site, known as Homan Square.
Mr. Taylor is also an accomplished appellate advocate, and successfully argued the cases of Cleavinger v. Saxner and Buckley v. Fitzsimmons before the United States Supreme Court, as well as numerous cases before Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal and the Illinois Supreme Court.
In 1975 Mr. Taylor was honored, along with his law partner Jeffrey Haas, for his work on the Fred Hampton case by being named by the Chicago Reader as members of the “Heavy 75,”, in 1977, with Haas, as an Advocate For Our Freedom for “representing a rare breed of legal advocates who take on the contemporary Sacco and Vanzetti or Scottsboro cases,” in 1986 he was nominated for the Durfee Foundation Award for his work in “enhancing the human dignity of others through legal institutions,” and, in 1989, again with Haas, received the Citizens Alert Fighters For Justice Award.