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Rainbow Coalition (Fred Hampton)

The Rainbow Coalition of Revolutionary Solidarity (Rainbow Coalition for short) was a multicultural political organization active in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was founded in Chicago, Illinois by Fred Hampton of the Black Panther Party, along with William "Preacherman" Fesperman of the Young Patriots Organization and Jose Cha Cha Jimenez of the Young Lords. It was the first of several 20th century Black-led organizations to use the "rainbow coalition" concept.[1]

It included Jack (Junebug) Boykin, Bobby Joe Mcginnis and Hy Thurman as leading members of the Young Patriots along with many other leading members from the Black Panthers and Young Lords. Fred Hampton met the Young Lords in Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood, the day after Young Lords were in the news after they had occupied a police community workshop meeting of the 18th District Police Station. He was arrested twice with Jose Cha Cha Jimenez at the Wicker Park Welfare Office and both were charged with Mob Action at a peaceful picket of the office.

The Rainbow Coalition soon included various radical socialist community groups like the Lincoln Park Poor People's Coalition, [2] Later, the coalition was joined nationwide by the Students for a Democratic Society ("SDS"), the Brown Berets, A.I.M. and the Red Guard Party. In May 1969, Hampton called a press conference to announce that this "Rainbow Coalition" had formed.

The coalition also included several other local groups like Rising Up Angry, and Mothers and Others. The Coalition brokered treaties to end crime and gang violence. Hampton, Jimenez and their colleagues believed that the Richard J. Daley Democratic Party machine in Chicago used gang wars to consolidate their own political positions by gaining funding for law enforcement and dramatizing crime rather than underlying social issues.

The phrase "rainbow coalition" was co-opted over the years by Reverend Jesse Jackson, who eventually appropriated the name in forming his own, more moderate coalition, Rainbow/PUSH. Some scholars, including Peniel Joseph, assert that the original rainbow coalition concept was a prerequisite for the multicultural coalition that Barack Obama built his political career upon.[3]


  1. ^ Amy Sonnie and James Tracy, Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times (Melville House Publishing, 2011)
  2. ^ Jakobi Williams, From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 2013.)
  3. ^ Williams, Jakobi, "Fred Hampton to Barack Obama: The Illinois Black Panther Party, the Original Rainbow Coalition, and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago". Paper presented at the 96th Annual Convention of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Richmond, VA, October 4, 2011.

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