Chicago 1969: When Black Panthers aligned with Confederate-flag-wielding, working-class whites | Colette Gaiter, The Conversation
By Colette Gaiter, January 08, 2017
“In his short time as a Black Panther leader, Fred Hampton wanted to advance the group’s goals by forming a “Rainbow Coalition” of working class and poor people of all races.
Former members of the Chicago Panthers and YPO tell different versions of the same story of how the groups connected: Each attended the other’s organizing meetings and decided to work together on their common issues. Over time, the Black Panthers learned to tolerate Confederate flags as intransigent signs for rebellion. Their only stipulation was that the white Young Patriots denounce racism.
Eventually, Young Patriots rejected their deeply embedded ideas of white supremacy – and even the Confederate flag – as they realized how much they had in common with the Black Panthers and Latino Young Lords.
Assumed to be natural enemies, these groups united in their calls for economic justice. In the Aug. 9, 1969 issue of The Black Panther newspaper, the party’s chief of staff, David Hilliard, admiringly called the Young Patriots “the only revolutionaries we respect that ever came out of the mother country.” Recalling his work with the YPO, former Black Panther Bobby Lee explained that “The Rainbow Coalition was just a code word for class struggle.””