Lee Walker Statement on the Fred Hampton Controversy

Published March 2, 2006

(Chicago, IL March 2, 2006) — Lee Walker, president of the New Coalition for Economic and Social Change and a senior fellow for The Heartland Institute, commented today on the controversy brewing over the honorary naming of a Chicago street after former Black Panther Fred Hampton.

Mr. Walker can be reached for further information at 312/377-4000, email [email protected].

I am very surprised that one little street on the west side of Chicago has become such a big controversy. It’s too bad we can’t get communities this upset about how poorly schools are educating our kids.

Anyone who lives in this city knows the honorary naming of its streets is a community-driven activity. In the future, the city may decide it wants to end the program, but the policy so far has been to let the community decide. We should stick with that policy.

We may not agree personally with all of the honorary street-namings. Many of us don’t even know who half these people are. The namings are always political. If a person affects the city enough, and a community of people is inspired enough, they can get an honorary street name.

The street that will be renamed in honor of Fred Hampton is not a major thoroughfare. It’s not like anyone is trying to rename Lake Shore Drive after a Black Panther. Regardless of whether we agree with Hampton’s politics, we should leave it up to the neighborhood to decide whether he’ll have a street named after him.

Lee Walker ([email protected]) is president of The New Coalition for Economic and Social Change and a senior fellow of The Heartland Institute.