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From Melville House Books:

Hy Thurman was one of the early members of the Young Patriots Organization, a group of Southerners who organized in the Uptown (Hillbilly Harlem) neighborhood of Chicago. The YPO worked hand in hand with the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense and the Puerto Rican Young Lords Organization in the original Rainbow Coalition. While short-lived, the Rainbow Coalition (no relation to theJessie Jackson inspired project with the same name) provided an example of how the politics of self-determination can co-exist with the politics of intercommunal solidarity.

For various reasons, Amy Sonnie and I were not able to interview Thurman for Hillbilly Nationalists, Urban Race Rebels and Black Power: Community Organizing in Radical Times. In this long overdue interview, he adds a lot to the historical record of the YPO, especially their controversial use of the Confederate Flag. Today, Thurman is working on his own memoirs, as well as re-organizing the YPO for a new generation.

JT: How did you come to be a part of the Young Patriots Organization?

HT: I became involved in the Young Patriots was contact with the Good Fellows. My brother, Tex was a leader in the Peace Makers a street gang that morphed into the Good Fellows and eventually became the Young Patriots and then became a part of the original Rainbow Coalition.

We organized the Young Patriots in 1968 in Chicago`s Uptown neighborhood to help alleviate the oppressive conditions that residents faced on a daily basis and to give the poor a voice to fight Mayor Richard J. Daley`s oppressive machine of class hatred and racism. The Uptown community was made up of mostly poor southern white migrants who began migrating north soon after World II to find jobs and to escape from the clinches of poverty only to enter another monstrous conditions that were in several ways worst that what had been experienced in the South. Estimates of southern residents over a ten year span was over 70,000 southerners entered the gates of Uptown. At any given time as many as 40,000 tried to put down roots to scrap out a living.

JT: It might surprise some readers that police brutality was so prevalent in a white neighborhood.

HT: Daley would use the police as his personal gang and they were allowed to use their own interpretation of the law while performing their jobs as police officers. Also it seemed that any cop that was determined to have behaviors of a psychopath or couldn`t fit in the city’s middle class neighborhoods were assigned to Uptown, south and west side and poor Latino or other poor neighborhoods in Chicago. They would not give it a second thought to shoot, torture or beat you. Women and young girls were not exempt from their perverted behavior either.