Dawn Downey
Dec 4, 2021

It’s 4:30 AM, December 4, and I am stricken by survivor’s guilt. On this date in 1969, Chicago police, colluding with the FBI, executed Fred Hampton while he slept. He was twenty-one. On this date in 1969, I was midway through my freshman year of college, oblivious. What have I done in the fifty years I’ve been gifted since then? What have I done to deserve my grief? Fred Hampton said, “If you ever think about me, and you ain’t gonna do no revolutionary act, forget about me.” How revolutionary is the act of writing? I can’t forget the Chairman, or the black innocents who preceded him and followed him in death at the hands of American white supremacy. Grainy images still shock: a mutilated boy in an open casket, a blood-soaked mattress, a knee on a neck. Say their names. Today, their names are Fred Hampton.