Interview with Flint Taylor
QUESTION 3
INTERVIEWER:

Now can you think back, can you, uh, about the first time you met Fred, the situation, and what were you doing with him, and what did he do that evening?

FLINT TAYLOR:

Well, there's two things that--

FLINT TAYLOR:

There's two things about when I met Fred. The first time I actually saw Fred was quite remarkable, and that was, uh, the work I was talking about of getting the bond petition together, and this is one of the ironies, I think, of the whole thing. We were successful and we got him out of jail towards the end of that summer. Because a Supreme Court Justice in the state of Illinois looked at what kind of a person he was, looked at the kind of case it was, and gave him an appeal bond. So, uh, he got out towards the end of the summer. And he had been in jail down state in Menard. And he came back, and there was like a celebration speech type of thing at a church, on the near West side here in Chicago. That's the first time I saw Fred Hampton, and I was a young, White student in a predominantly, uh, Black, uh, church full to the rafters, uh, welcoming Fred Hampton back**. And this man was just so impressive. Ah, and, uh, he just, he talked about hearing the beat of the people all the way down state in Menard, and he just kind of went from a speech into like almost a song. And, uh, it was just the people were all on their feet, and, and just rising as one in kind of the this, uh, you know, unity with him and, and what he stood for. And, obviously that had a very large effect on me. I didn't meet him then. I met him a month or two later. Um, I organized, or people at Northwestern Law School where I was and I organized, uh, him to come to speak at the Law School. And I went out to pick him up. And I thought that, you know, that, uh, Panthers, maybe there'd be a few people there at the, the Law School. Um, picked him up, and this was a month or two before he was assassinated, and at that time my perspective was, wow, this man's paranoid. Because he kept talking about the police were going to get him, and, and talked about the FBI, and he just talked about, uh, it was just on his mind. And, not really comprehending what he was going through, uh, and what in fact was really the, the program, it seemed a little bit extreme to me at the time. In any event, we head back to Northwestern and we walked into the hall there, and I expected to see 25 people and there were 350 people sitting out there waiting to hear from Fred Hampton. These are law students, predominantly White, upper class place. And I was to introduce him, and it was about my first public speaking, uh, event. And, uh, I stammered my way through, and got him up there, and, uh, and then he spoke, and he made some comment about, a very light but pointed comment about how I was a bit tongue-tied. And I've never forgotten that to this day! But he was just so impressive. And, I, I think probably I was a good comparative point to him! Ah, and he just talked to these law students, and, uh, uh, for however long it was. And it was, again, very impressive, and just what kind of a leader he was, and how he was able to move people, and to communicate with people was remarkable. And I mean I wasn't very sophisticated, either politically or legally or anything else at that point. But I knew what was happening. I had a sense of what kind of a man he was, and just, you know, 20, 21 years old. So that's how I both came in contact with him, and how I, uh, first time I met him.