Crain’s Chicago Business has reported that two well-known Illinois congressmen have offered their support for landmarking a two-flat at 804 S. 17th Ave. that is the childhood home of slain Illinois Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton Jr.
Rep. Bobby Rush, who took over the Illinois chapter of the Panthers after Hampton’s assassination in 1969, wrote a letter in support of the historic designation to Tom Kus, the current chairman of the Historic Preservation/Landmark Commission.
Crain’s reported that Rep. Danny K. Davis, whose 7th District encompasses all of Maywood, has not issued a similar letter, but “strongly endorses the move, said his Chief of Staff, Tumia Romero. The congressman believes ‘the Fred Hampton house is an important part of Maywood history,’ and has met with Hampton’s son and others to lend his support, Romero said.”
“Currently, the Hampton House serves as an informal community center, with a community fridge, a community garden, and a space for Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. to record his weekly ‘Free ‘Em All Radio’ podcasts,” Rush wrote in his letter.
“If granted historic landmark status, the Hampton House could continue and expand its role serving the community with additional resources that would enable visitors to learn about and put into practice the spirit of self-determination and community activists cultivated by Chairman Fred Hampton and the Black Panther Party.”
Crain’s said the Bus had previously said “he expects the commission to look on the nomination favorably and that a petition isn’t necessary, only a nomination by the property owner.”
Over the summer, Maywood Mayor Nathaniel George Booker, who along with the Maywood Board of Trustees is cc’d on Rush’s letter, announced that the village’s commissions would be overhauled.
In August, the village consolidated its 19 commissions and committees into six committees helmed by trustees while several existing commissions, including Historic Preservation, would remain. The members of those remaining commissions, however, are required to reapply for appointment by Nov. 19, Booker said last month.
Kus could not be reached for comment on Thursday evening. Crain’s reported that on what would have been Hampton’s 73rd birthday in August, Hampton Jr. launched a petition drive calling for community members to support landmarking his father’s childhood home.
During a phone interview on Nov. 4, Chairman Fred Hampton Jr. said he’s now looking at either Dec. 4 — the anniversary of his father’s 1969 assassination — or sometime early next year to secure the landmark designation.
“The whole process has been inspiring,” Hampton Jr. said of the drive to landmark the historic home. “People from all walks of life have been on board.”