Table of Contents
Button from Jesse Jackson’s National Rainbow Coalition.
What was the Rainbow Coalition?
The Rainbow Coalition was an antiracist, class-conscious, multicultural movement founded on April 4, 1969 in Chicago, Illinois. The Black Panther Party’s Fred Hampton created the group in collaboration with gang leaders William “Preacherman” Fesperman of the Appalachian Young Patriots Organization and José Cha Cha Jiménez of the Puerto Rican Young Lords.
Working against socio-economic injustices towards people of color was a pillar of the Black Panthers 10 Point Program. The Rainbow Coalition, one of the Panthers’ many charitable survival programs, served as a spiritual successor to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign. King’s initiative sought to bring economic justice for all the impoverished U.S. citizens, regardless of their race or ethnicity.
The Zero Theft Movement is working to bring together citizens from all backgrounds in the fight against the rigged economy. The history of the Rainbow Coalition demonstrates just how powerful we can be when we come together to achieve a common goal. Creating a fair and ethical economy benefits everyone, and it’s about time we fought for what we deserve.
Hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management (LTCM) went from the ‘It’ company to collapse in just a few years. The government bailed out the company even though a Warren Buffet-led group was willing to purchase the pieces. Should LTCM have been saved?
Origins of the Rainbow Coalition
Chicago’s streets had long been awash in blood and tears due to gang violence. Hampton made it clear to the leaders of Windy City’s most potent street gangs that racial and ethnic conflict would only perpetuate suffering and poverty. This was the seed, planted in 1969, that soon bloomed into a nonaggression pact between once-warring gangs.
Hampton had built the foundations of an anti-racist, class-conscious, multiracial alliance among the Panthers, the Young Patriots Organization, and the Young Lords. The alliance we now know as the Rainbow Coalition.
Photograph of Fred Hampton (1969)
Source: Black Past
Southside Weekly, a nonprofit newspaper, interviewed Jimenez in 2019 for a retrospective on the Rainbow Coalition. He is quoted as saying the following: “Fred took the Young Lords under his wing. He gave us the skills that we needed to come right out of the gang and start organizing the community…We were already fighting for our rights in our neighborhoods, and we needed to form a united front. Our mission was self-determination for our barrios and all oppressed nations.”
In May 1969, the Panthers leader held a press conference to announce the formation of the Rainbow Coalition. He spoke on the importance of common action, tackling joint issues (e.g. racism, police brutality, and substandard housing) as a “unified front.” The turbulence of the 1960s provided the right conditions for the Rainbow Coalition to thrive. People were looking for stability, solidarity, and unity.
Hampton’s Rainbow Coalition consequently attracted a wide range of groups: Students for a Democratic Society, the Brown Berets, the American Indian Movement, the Red Guard Party, and many others. When one group held strikes, protests, and demonstrations, members would make sure to attend in support of the events.
The Rainbow Coalition Ends
The FBI, through the help of informants like William O’Neal, came to view Hampton as a threat. In general, the Agency had grown wary of the Black Panther Party. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover even referred to the Panthers as the “greatest internal threat to national security.” Not for their confrontational methods or gun-toting members, but for their philanthropic survival programs that were winning over the public and challenging the status quo. The Rainbow Coalition represented one such program, and the FBI feared Hampton’s ability to unite the bitterest of rivals in the fight for justice and equality. On December 4, 1969, Hampton was allegedly assassinated as part of the FBI’s COINTELPRO program.
Hampton’s sudden death left the Rainbow Coalition without direction. The group unofficially disbanded and some members disappeared in fear for their lives. Close to two decades later, the Rainbow Coalition would make its return.
Have you ever heard of the LIBOR scandal? Investors from major financial institutions allegedly rigged LIBOR, a global benchmark interest rate, to artificially boost their profits.
Find out if you or someone you know was ripped off…
Reverend Jesse Jackson Revives the Rainbow Coalition
After Harold Washington made history by becoming the first Black mayor of Chicago in its mayoral election in 1983, Democratic leaders started to push for a Black presidential candidate. Reverend Jesse Jackson, a leader of the civil rights movement, decided to take on the challenge. His two campaigns—in 1984 and 1988—would set the foundations for his revival of the Rainbow Coalition.
In his 1984 bid, Jackson became the second African American to mount a nationwide campaign for the presidency. He achieved historic success, winning five primaries and caucuses for over three million votes. It was around this time that the Reverend decided to revive and adapt the Rainbow Coalition, making it a crucial part of his platform.
Jackson, having earned a key spot in the 1984 Democratic National Convention, delivered a memorable speech in which he championed diversity and the Rainbow Coalition numerous times.
“Our flag is red, white and blue, but our nation is a rainbow—red, yellow, brown, black and white—and we’re all precious in God’s sight.”
In a Washington Post article, historian Robert Greene II mentions how Jackson, like the Hampton and the Panthers, drew inspiration from King’s efforts to unite diverse Americans in his Poor People’s Campaign.
Jesse Jackson speaking at the United Nations (2012)
Source: United States Mission to Geneva
In 1988, Jackson declared his candidacy with his wife and a diverse cohort of campaign aides alongside him. In his speech, he again referenced the Rainbow Coalition, speaking of the disadvantaged and abused from all races and backgrounds. Jackson sought to “serve the nation at a level where I can help restore a moral tone, a redemptive spirit and a sensitivity to the poor and the dispossessed of this nation.”
His second presidential run proved even more successful than the first. He won seven primaries, four caucuses and nearly 7 million votes. Despite the strong push, he came in second behind Michael Dukakis, the eventual Democratic nominee.
The Rainbow Coalition in the Modern Day
Jackson, to this day (June 2021), continues to push for racial and economic justice in the following years. He merged the National Rainbow Coalition with Operation PUSH (People United to Serve Humanity) to form the Rainbow PUSH Coalition in 1996. His vision of diversity and inclusion helped shape the modern Democratic party as we know it today.
Furthermore, Jackson’s historic presidential campaigns set the stage for a new wave of African American leaders. Many believe Barack Obama, in his successful bids for the presidency, built on the foundations set by Jackson, King, and even Hampton. According to The Guardian, he appealed to voters across different generations, races, classes, and genders.
“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America—there is the United States of America. There is not a Black America and a White America and Latino America and Asian America—there’s the United States of America.”
President Obama, keynote speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention
Fight the Rigged Economy with the Zero Theft Movement
Through the evolution of the Rainbow Coalition, the spirit of diversity remained strong. The oppression and suffering of even a single community are all of our failures to bear.
The rigged economy could be a massive multi-trillion dollar problem that does not discriminate. Powerful and profit-hungry, the corrupt among the corporations and the super-rich could be manipulating the system in order to make as much money as possible from the average American.
But how do you fight this potential problem?
The Zero Theft Movement has created an independent voting platform where you and your fellow citizens work together to calculate the most accurate estimate for the monetary costs of corruption in the United States.
The public investigates potential problem areas, and everyone votes on whether (1) theft is or isn’t occurring in a specific area of the economy, and (2) how much is being stolen or possibly saved. Through direct democracy, we can collectively decide where the problem areas exist and start working on addressing them systematically.
Only through hard evidence can we prove where the rigged parts of the economy exist and force Congress to hold all the bad actors accountable.
The Zero Theft Movement does not have any interest in partisan politics/competition or attacking/defending one side. We seek to eradicate theft from the U.S economy. In other words, how the wealthy and powerful rig the system to steal money from us, the everyday citizen. We need to collectively fight against crony capitalism in order for us to all profit from an ethical economy.
Terms like ‘steal,’ ‘theft,’ and ‘crime’ will frequently appear throughout the article. Zero Theft will NOT adhere strictly to the legal definitions of these terms (since congress sells out). We have broadly and openly defined terms like ‘steal’ and ‘theft’ to refer to the rigged economy and other debated unethical acts that can cause citizens to lose out on money they deserve to keep.