It’s been strange and somewhat comical to me to hear conservatives, and in particular former President Trump, call for the creation of a new Patriot Party, in an effort to coalesce the tenets of Trumpism—which as far as I can tell is whatever thought pops into Trump’s mind at any given time.
The reason that conservatives are embracing a “Patriot Party” label is so bizarre to me. In 1969, I was a co-founder of the Young Patriot Organization, a group of young radicals living in Uptown, Chicago at the time. Our group of poor southern white migrants were publicizing and trying to resolve the chronic problems of the poor, mostly white residents: police brutality, unemployment, slum living conditions, urban renewal, class hatred, racism, hunger and lack of medical care, all inflicted upon them by Mayor Richard J. Daly’s political machine and the capitalist system, which did not recognize them as significant people. YPO would eventually become one of the original member groups of the Rainbow Coalition, co-founded by Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton, an alliance which brought together the Panthers, the Young Lords (a Puerto Rican gang turned revolutionary), and southern whites like myself, to work together in order to empower Chicago’s poor communities toward self-determination and the control their own destinies. The Young Patriots were radical revolutionaries who redefined the meaning of the word ‘Patriot’ by identifying themselves as descendants of the early American revolutionaries who fought for freedom. The difference was that the Young Patriots fought for equality for all oppressed people and not for the capitalist system. We were driven by a strong desire for independence and challenging classism/racism to eliminate the conditions that breed oppression and misery.
Our movement, the Young Patriot Organization, eventually split, with a portion of us moving to New York City to form the Patriot Party. Although the name had changed slightly from its Chicago origins, the goal of the Patriot Party was still radical social change and revolution. It moved toward a more national scale, while the YPO retained its concentration in the Chicago area. Both organizations worked to empower poor communities to fight against racism and classism.
Trump’s ignorance is astonishing. He is hardly known for doing research or reading or informing himself about things he should have known when he was president. But let me be clear: The Patriot Party, Young Patriot Organization of the 1970s, or the Rainbow Coalition would never be aligned in any way with Trump and his enablers. The Young Patriot 11 Point Program, inspired by the Black Panther 10 Point Program, could not have been more explicit:
1. Class: The wealth of the world should be shared by all people who produce the wealth.
2. Welfare of the People: All people are entitled to adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical care.
3. Pigs and Pig Power Structure: We demand an end to pigs murdering and brutalizing our people
4. Schools-Education: Education should be the same for all people. “Poor people are trained to be poor people; children of factory workers are trained to be factory workers; children of rich people are trained to take their parents’ places.”
5. The Draft: We oppose the draft because it means that poor and working-class men fight the rich man`s war.
6. Unions: We demand an end to discrimination on the job and in the unions.
7. Exploitation of the Community: We demand that if the businessmen intend to stay in the community, those profits will be invested in the community in the form of goods and services.
8. Racism: Racism is a tool of capitalism to make the people fight among themselves, instead of fighting together for their freedom. Divisions of race and sex serve the interest of the rich ruling class and not the people.
9. Release All Political Prisoners: We demand the release of all political prisoners.
10 Cultural Nationalism: We believe that to fight only for the interest of your close cultural brothers and sisters is not in the interest of all the people and perpetuates racism. We understand that our struggle is a class struggle.
11. Revolutionary Solidarity: We support all wars of national liberation and demand an end to the war in Vietnam.
A total lack of historical awareness seems to permeate our world today. Recently, I`ve spotted posts that say that our movement, The Young Patriots, were an equivalent to the Aryan Nations and that Fred Hampton worked with a group of White Supremacists in Uptown Chicago. The Black Panthers would never align themselves with that kind of a group.
In 1969, the Young Patriots did use the Confederate Stars and Bars as an organizing tool. Fred Hampton hated the flag but trusted the Patriots to meet the people where they were, and he knew that if it could make inroads to confront racism, then he would agree to its use. A racist symbol had never been used
before to reach racist people to confront their racism. The Patriots wore the flag on their jackets and hats, along with a Free Huey button or a symbol of a struggling third world country, as well as the Rainbow Coalition button. We did this because we found the juxtaposition of these messages sparked dialogue with people. Community residents were curious as to why we were wearing the flag along with these other buttons. It was effective by opening the door to conversation and potentially organizing people, as well as offering much needed services such as the YPO free health clinic, the Breakfast for Children program, legal services and giving a voice to express ordinary people’s demands in the face of an oppression that kept them poor. Eventually we realized that what that flag represented was not something we could reimagine, and that it was a symbol of hate which did not represent our heritage. We discontinued the use of the Stars and Bars and abandoned it. We continued organizing in our community to confront oppression and racism in all forms, and this included dealing with our own racism.
So in 2021, we find increasing talk about the name “Patriot Party” and “Patriot Society” being created by Trump and his supporters. But there is only one Patriot Party and Patriot Organization, and in the short period that it existed, it worked to confront everything that Trump and his supporters represent. By the mere use of these names by Trump`s supporters, the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party has been accused of associating with white supremacists, Aryans and KKK in Chicago during the formation of the Rainbow Coalition. Surprisingly, even some old Leftists have not done their research and have identified the Young Patriots as fascists and neo-Nazis. Words are weapons and Trump uses them to destroy his enemies. We must use our words to unite and destroy the hatred, racism, classism and oppression that threatens to destroy our collective existence.