From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago

Jakobi Williams
Publication Date

In this comprehensive history of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party (ILBPP), Chicago native Jakobi Williams demonstrates that the city's Black Power movement was both a response to and an extension of the city's civil rights movement. Williams focuses on the life and violent death of Fred Hampton, a charismatic leader who served as president of the NAACP Youth Council and continued to pursue a civil rights agenda when he became chairman of the revolutionary Chicago-based Black Panther Party. Framing the story of Hampton and the ILBPP as a social and political history and using, for the first time, sealed secret police files in Chicago and interviews conducted with often reticent former members of the ILBPP, Williams explores how Hampton helped develop racial coalitions between the ILBPP and other local activists and organizations.

Williams also recounts the history of the original Rainbow Coalition, created in response to Richard J. Daley's Democratic machine, to show how the Panthers worked to create an antiracist, anticlass coalition to fight urban renewal, political corruption, and police brutality.

“A fascinating work that everyone interested in the Black Panther party or racism in Chicago should read.” – Journal of American History

“A vital historical intervention in African American history, urban and local histories, and Black Power studies. . . . A mandatory addition to the bookshelves of students and scholars.”– History: Reviews of New Books

“A major contribution to the literature and the definitive work on the Black Panther Party in the city of Chicago.” – Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

“[Jakobi] paints a clear and engaging portrait of an organization that successfully blended elements of civil rights strategy and direct individual experience with the aims and possibilities of a new era of black radical resistance.” – American Quarterly


From the Bullet to the Ballot: The Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Racial Coalition Politics in Chicago, University of North Carolina Press (The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture), 2015