[the FBI’s secret COINTELPRO program] targeted members of the Black Panther party and other leftist groups in the 1960s and early 1970s, surveilling and infiltrating them to sow discord. “COINTELPRO was designed to destroy black liberation organizations starting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X,” Flint Taylor, the civil rights lawyer who fought in court to expose the facts about Hampton’s killing and the existence of COINTELPRO, told Teen Vogue. FBI head J. Edgar Hoover, who started the program, worried that a black “messiah” would electrify the movement for black rights.
In Chicago, at the age of just 21, the charismatic Hampton had realized Hoover’s fear, starting a number of popular programs, including a free breakfast program. He also founded the Rainbow Coalition, an alliance uniting poor blacks, poor whites, and Latinos. The Panthers organized with the Young Lords Organization, a Puerto Rican group, and the Young Patriots Organization (YPO), comprised of poor white migrants from Appalachia.
Black Panther Fred Hampton Created a “Rainbow Coalition” to Support Poor Americans by Tana Ganeva, Teen Vogue, July 2019.