Interview with George Clements

I want to move you back to recall when Fred Hampton was murdered and how you chose to reach out to the community and try to help the community cope with that tragedy.


Sure. Well, ah, first of all, Fred himself was an extremely volatile character. Fred, when he came into a room, it was electricity right away. It, it lit up. People knew that this was, this was not some ordinary person. This was somebody who was like a smoking gun. I mean, he was just, he was always on the go and getting things done, and all that. And you couldn't help but admire a guy like Fred Hampton. So, ah, Fred was feared mightily by the, ah, establishment here in Chicago, because they, they never knew just quite what he was going to do next. And, ah, there were very few Blacks who felt free to publicly, ah, praise Fred. I'm sure if you looked into the archives you'll find he got very few awards, or anything like that, because people were- this was a little, this was a stick of dynamite. People were, Black and White, they were afraid to really kind of deal with, with, with Fred. I loved him, from the very beginning. I just thought he was fantastic. Because once again, here was a full-fledged Black man. A man. Not a boy, a man. This was somebody that White folks really had to take another look at. You couldn't play with Fred. And when I say that, I'm talking about even my own religious establishment because at that time I was getting a lot of flak because they wanted to make me the pastor of, of, of the church I was in at that time, St. Dorothy. And we had, people were writing letters, and they were petitioning and they were, ah, making phone calls, and they were, ah, going through the committees and seeing the diocesan authorities, and they, they were doing everything they could think of. Fred Hampton went down there and said, "Either you make him a pastor or we blow the place up." That changed the whole coloration. Next thing I knew there was a big delegation out there at the parish, and wanted to know, "Now what is going on, and so forth?" But by that time we got polite yawns. Fred was quite a man, quite a man.