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The Real History Behind Fred Hampton’s Rise in “Judas & The Black Messiah”

A scene from Fred Hampton's biopic, Judas and the Black Messiah starring Daniel Kaluuya and Lakeith Stanfield

Judas & The Black Messiah plot follows the rise of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party (BPP) including the events that led to the death of the chapter’s then chairman, Fred Hampton.

Fred Hampton // Photo: Chicago Tribune file photo/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Fred Hampton was the chairman of the Illinois chapter of the BPP and the deputy chairman of the national BPP. As chairman, he promoted BPP programs such as the Free Breakfast program for children and the Free Food Program for those in need. He also created the Rainbow Coalition. The Rainbow Coalition was a program created to promote racial unity between poor Blacks, Whites, and Latinos. The Black Panther Party organized with the Puerto Rican group, the Young Lords Organization, and the poor White migrant group, the Young Patriots Organization (YPO). 

Fred Hampton at a Rainbow Coalition conference in 1969
On October10, 1969 Fred Hampton (left) spoke as the Chairman of the Black Panther Party during a press conference with the Young Lords Organization at the Holy Covenant United Methodist Church. // Photo: Dave Nystrom/Chicago Tribune

Judas & The Black Messiah Trailer

In the film, Fred Hampton is played by Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya. Kaluuya plays Hampton in his role as the Black Panther Party chairman. Within a year of acting as chairman, Fred Hampton becomes a target of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program. The FBI recruits William O’Neal (played by Atlanta’s LaKeith Stanfield) as an informant to help in their efforts against Hampton. The film follows the historical events that led to the rise and death of Hampton. Therefore, those that are aware of Hampton’s story knows how the film ends. 


Judas & The Black Messiah is set to air in theaters on February 12, 2021. The film will also be available for streaming on HBO Max.

Check out: Bobby Seale & The History of the Black Panther Party

Don’t miss: The Real History Behind “One Night In Miami”


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