From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago

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by Jakobi Williams

University of North Carolina Press

2015, paperback

SKU: 9781469622101


In this comprehensive history of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party (ILBPP), Chicago native Jakobi Williams demonstrates that the city's Black Power movement was both a response to and an extension of the city's civil rights movement. Williams focuses on the life and violent death of Fred Hampton, a charismatic leader who served as president of the NAACP Youth Council and continued to pursue a civil rights agenda when he became chairman of the revolutionary Chicago-based Black Panther Party. Framing the story of Hampton and the ILBPP as a social and political history and using, for the first time, sealed secret police files in Chicago and interviews conducted with often reticent former members of the ILBPP, Williams explores how Hampton helped develop racial coalitions between the ILBPP and other local activists and organizations.

Williams also recounts the history of the original Rainbow Coalition, created in response to Richard J. Daley's Democratic machine, to show how the Panthers worked to create an antiracist, anticlass coalition to fight urban renewal, political corruption, and police brutality.


"Williams has produced the most comprehensive and thoughtful study of Fred Hampton and the Panthers in Chicago. He has given us a brilliant study of the anatomy of grassroots organizing across race . . . From the Bullet to the Ballot is more than a contribution to our local knowledge of the BPP; it will compel all Panther scholars to rethink or readjust the national narrative." --Robin D. G. Kelley, University of California at Los Angeles

"Williams has produced an engrossing narrative of grassroots black urban politics during the era following the passage of landmark civil rights reforms. His account will compel subsequent historians to avoid simplistic generalizations distinguishing between the civil rights era and the black power era." --Clayborne Carson, Stanford University