Bill “Preacherman” Fesperman, Bob Lee, Lamar Billy “Che” Brooks, and Fred Hampton at a Rainbow Coalition rally in Grant Park, 1969. #blackpanthers
[—-] The Young Patriots had been invited to speak about police brutality. Bob Lee was surprised by the intense hostility and class dialogue between the two white groups, and he was unaccustomed to the way that the middle-class group verbally attacked the Young Patriots. [—-] “Coming from the South, it was a culture shock for me. I had never seen that before, because in the South whites were united around race . . . I had never seen whites attack poor whites before. I had never seen poor whites having to explain themselves to other whites before . . . When I was called upon to speak, I made my speech, and it was an emotional tie-in with the Young Patriots because I felt the hostility toward them. And that was the beginning of our alliance.” [—-] Bob Lee introduced the youth gathered that night to the ideology of the Black Panther Party and its community service programs. The Young Patriots were easily persuaded to work with the Panthers, being receptive to the concept of class solidarity. The YPO’s introduction to class solidarity that transcended racial divisions, courtesy of Bob Lee, also forced members to reassess its vestigial identification with the Confederate flag.