It was very essential to make sure we presented the Panthers in a more realistic way and not the character they have become, you know, black militants with black berets carrying guns. That was one aspect of them, and especially the open aspect, but in the Chicago, Illinois chapter, they were on the ground organizing the community. And Hampton was a prototype community organizer and he also turned out to be a great speaker. So he was able to combine those Dr. King’s oracle skills with Malcolm X’s fire at a young age. I think people also get lost in the fact that they were so young, they were children. But they had the foresight to say, ‘This capitalist system is not for us. The only way we can fix our communities is to fix our community. ‘
And Hampton, I knew that intuitively, and we wanted to make sure: if you’re going to make a movie that features Fred Hampton, you have to make sure you present his message. And his message was about unity, love, bringing people together and working as a group, as a community to uplift. That was Hampton. It doesn’t matter what you think of the Panthers. If you study Hampton and read about his history, talk to people who knew Fred Hampton, like everyone everywhere, no doubt says, this was a man who was for the community and for the people. It wasn’t about being a terrorist. It was about uplifting his community.