My Favorite Instagram Hacks


Instagram is my favorite place to interact with readers outside of this blog, Twitter follows this, and then Facebook is last. If you are an author on Instagram or have ever thought of using it as a platform, here are some of my favorite hacks for increasing engagement.

Less is More: Pick a Few Kinds of Posts and Stick with It

I heard David Shands of the SleepisforSuckers brand and the Social Proof Podcast mention something like this and realized I was already doing it. This awareness encouraged me to stay consistent with this strategy, which has been working wonderfully. If you’ve been paying attention, I only post four kinds of content. 

  • Black History
  • Books I Read / Recommend
  • Author / Entrepreneur Stuff
  • Family / Travel Stuff

I have incorporated reels, but that’s more along the lines of the medium to which I present the content.

Whether it is in the form of a reel, IGTV video, or image, the core of my content is the same.

It seems like I do a lot, but when you break it down, I really don’t. Everything I post falls into one of these four categories. A poetry contest post falls into the author business category. A t-shirt promo is an entrepreneur post, too, because I am promoting someone’s brand. A post of my twin sister or hubby or doggie is a family post, and so on.

While I still struggle sometimes with what to post, knowing I only have to focus on one of these four (depending on the last time I posted about it) makes it much easier to stay consistent. 

I learned you don’t have to have a lot going on to be productive.

This is a lesson in “less is more.”

I don’t even post a lot. Some recommend posting at least 3x a day on Instagram to stay on top of the algorithm. Welp, I am behind on that. But I will say that has not affected my engagement, and I think it’s because the kinds of posts I publish are consistent. Remember, consistency is not about speed or quantity. To be consistent means something that does not vary.

Use Saves and Shares to Learn What’s Working / Not Working

Instagram, like every other app, is constantly changing. In 2021, the platform’s algorithms favor saves and shares over comments and likes. Below is an image someone posted that sums this up perfectly.

Likes still play a role. It is just not the most important in terms of pushing the algorithm.

You can’t see how many saves someone’s post has or know who has saved your post or shared it, but the act alone helps understand the kind of content your audience engages with the most, which lets you know what types of content to post.

UPDATE: Below is a screenshot of how the save, share, like, and comment buttons look on IG. Saving is not reposting. It’s just clicking that ribbon looking icon on the far right and the post is saved instantly. On the left you have the like button, comment and share.

To view the insights for a post (assuming your page is a business page), click on the insights tab under your post.

It will pull up your insights…

…including the number of accounts you reached, the percentage of people who weren’t following you before, the number of people who followed you, and your impressions.

This will help you see what kinds of posts people engage with the most, which is your audience’s way of saying what types of posts are getting their attention. 

I measure the success of a post based on the number of saves, then shares, comments, and then likes. Notice likes are last, and that is because the algorithm wants to cut down on bots. Some people also buy followers for some strange reason. A bot can like a post, but true engagement is measured by more thoughtful action. Comments of five or more words are better than emojis, and shares and saves are better than likes. The Women with Blue Eyes post did far better than I thought it would, which lead to preorder sales from new people.

Create Folders for Saves

When I come across a post, I like I save it for later—especially a Black History post I may want to repost in the future. 

When you save a post, it will show you something like this. 

Click Save to Collection

The list of your folders will come up. If you do not have folders, click on the plus sign and create one.

To view your saves in folders, go to Saves, and there they are. This makes it easier to go back to those dope posts to share, like, or comment on them.

My folders are:

  • Black History
  • Entrepreneur
  • Inspiring
  • Authors

Separate Business Messages from Personal Messages in the DMs

I don’t know if you know, but many good business deals happen in the DMs. I’ve sold lots of books from the DM alone. Here’s how I keep up with it: I separate my business messages from personal/family messages.

Direct Messages from family and friends go under the general tab, and business messages go under the primary tab.

I also have my messages set up to limit who messages me, so I am not bombarded by spam and freaks. Here’s how to do it:

Go to Settings > Messages > Message Requests On

This means that their message comes in as a message request you can either approve or decline for anyone not following you.

You can see a preview of the message, so you can decline it if it looks weird and then block that person.

We have all heard about the other things I do before, such as always using the best picture possible, including a caption that describes the image and using relevant hashtags. For the photos, make sure they are not pixelated and that the text on the image is not hard to read. Instagram focuses on photos, so your pictures must be eye-catching.

And those are some of my hacks! Feel free to use them and tell me how it’s going. Do you have any social media strategies you use to interact with your readers and strengthen your author brand? I’d love to hear about it!

Follow me @yecheilyah on Instagram!


Don’t forget to preorder your copy of The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen! Releasing June 8th.

Preorder: The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

Without further ado, I hope you will enjoy my introduction to Urban / Contemporary / Black AFAM Fantasy Fiction.

About.

When Tina’s nephew, Ronnie is killed, she is left to care for his siblings and to solve a series of mysterious murders involving only black men. Investigating each murder thrusts her and her team into a world of deities, demons, and fallen angels, leading Tina to battle a serial killer beyond this realm.

Title: The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen

Author: Yecheilyah Ysrayl

Editor: Dr. KE Garland

Publisher: Literary Korner Publishing/Yecheilyah Books LLC

Genre: Urban Fantasy / Contemporary Fantasy / Black & African American Fantasy Fiction

Release Date: June, 8, 2021

TWWBE: PreOrder a Signed Paperback

TWWBE: PreOrder Ebook From Amazon

Mark as Want to Read on Goodreads

Give Me My Flowers Today

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

I don’t usually post on Saturdays but on discovering a dear blogger friend’s death at the same time the world is mourning Earl “DMX” Simmons, a thought struck me.

“I just wish we could love people when they live the way we do when they die.”

As I scrolled through my LinkedIn page (and I am rarely on LinkedIn), I came across this post and was surprised to learn of Sue Vincent’s passing. 

I know Sue from her promotional posts for authors and her generosity in opening up her space to give others time to shine. I’ve been featured on her blog a few times, and each time that we emailed, she was always welcoming to have me. 

I feel sadness about Sue because I have not been as immersed in the blogging community as I used to be. My schedule is crazy these days, and I have not had the time to dedicate myself to my own blog, much less engage with others. On searching her name, I found tons of posts dedicated to her and posts she wrote about her illness. I am so very sorry for missing it all. 

I also want to note that Sue was a poet, and with it being National Poetry Month, I dedicate this post to her honor.

As per the title of this post, I want to remind us to give people their flowers while they live.

If there is someone you appreciate or someone you love, or someone who has added value to your life in any way, I encourage you to make it known to them now.

Why now? 

Why not now?

Photo by Mel on Unsplash

Last June 2020 was the last time I saw my mother alive. I had taken a quick trip to Chicago to celebrate the life of another person I knew who had passed and stopped by my mom’s place. I was literally only passing through. My husband had to make a run, so I ended up staying with my mother for longer than I had anticipated.

At the time, I was irritated Moshe was taking so long to come back. I did not see how much of a blessing it was he took this run.

Before I left, I put a necklace on her neck that I had meant to ship but never got the chance to. As I snapped it on her, I kissed her cheek and left. This wasn’t out of the ordinary. It is something I did all the time, kiss her cheek and tell her I loved her. The difference this time is I didn’t know this would be the last time I would do it, as she would pass on in September.

I have been away from home since 2009, when we moved to Louisiana. I now live in Georgia, but most of my family still lives in Chicago. That said, I didn’t see my mom daily because we did not live in the same city. If I had not come to Chicago that June, the last memory I would have of her would have been December of 2019 when we celebrated her 60th, and unknown to us, her last birthday.

Photo by Jeremy Yap on Unsplash

We never know when will be the last time we see or speak to someone, but we still take it for granted. We still treat each other like every day is promised. We still love people more in death than we do in life. We see this every time a celebrity passes.

I hope that one day this will change.

I hope that one day we will live with such immense gratitude that hindsight is no longer 20/20 because we will see things clearly at the moment.

I’ll leave you with this excerpt from If My Books Shall Die:

“Give me my flowers today

and accept the life I offer you

in the form of metaphors on silver platters,

for I am feeding you with silver spoons

and all you’ve got to do is eat.

I offer you the best of me.

And when I am dead

no longer among the living

crack open a book written by me

and feel my breath on your skin.

Hear my voice resurrect

from inside an ancient pen,

Watch my tongue dance.

See my lips move

and witness passion soar 

from beyond the grave.

If my books shall die

then my words did not really contain life.

But if my books shall live

What are you waiting for?

Go to your bookshelf,

resurrect me

and carry

my bones.”


Read the full poem in I am Soul

Don’t Forget to Enter this Year’s Poetry Contest. Click Here to Learn How.


PS. I am not a fan of the new WordPress editor. I like the ease of embedding tweets, but I think the blocks are unnecessarily complicated.

Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021: Rules, Guidelines, and Prizes


Yecheilyah’s 4th Annual Poetry Contest 2021

Theme: LOVE

This year’s theme is love. The difference between this year and our first year is this is not only about self-love or romantic love. You can certainly talk about self-love or the love of your life, but you can also talk about the love for family, the love for a hobby or career path, truth, history, and so on.

The grand prize this year is HUGE, so I am looking for some dopeness. If the poem doesn’t move me, I’m not accepting it, so bring your A-game. This is year four, and we are not accepting anything less than our best so let’s goooo!!

Here is a snippet of a poem from author and poet Jayla John on love. Let it inspire you!

“What love touches heals. What love reaches feels. What love bows to kneels. Love glances at sewage and turns it sacred. Love turns slander into praise. Love is a sacred storyteller. Love destroys all castles, drains all moats, rubbles royalty and thrones. Love answers. Prayers. Poetry. Passion fires. Love revolts. Love constantly births. Lets go. Remembers. Wakes your embers. Love is not romantic blindness. It is searing vision. Love sees. Love kills what is already dying, diseased, polluted, corrupted. Love makes all things new. Love is not in you. You are in love. And all of this is love.” –  Jalya John, Author of Freedom.

Submissions Accepted:

Thursday, April 1st – Tuesday, June 1, 2021 

*If your poem is ready, go ahead and submit it!*

Winners Announced: Wednesday, September 1st and 6th 2021*

*The 2nd-4th Place Winners are announced 9/1 with the Grand Prize Winner announced on 9/6.

Guidelines

  • The poems submitted must be original work. This means that the poems must be written by you. If we find a poem that resembles any previously published poem in any way that poet will be disqualified from the competition. Please send the poem as a Word Doc attachment, 12p font with your name on the document.
  • The poem must not be previously published in a book or anywhere online (including your blog)
  • The contest will be judged based on writing, style and how closely the poem adheres to the theme. This year’s theme is LOVE. Keep in mind this isn’t limited to romantic type love. You can also write about love for family, love for the creator, love for a passion or hobby, self-love, e.g.
  • All poets are welcomed to enter regardless of race, religion, political views or location. All poems must be written in English and there will be no shipments of books outside of the U.S. If a poet wins this competition and their residence is outside of the U.S., any prize requiring shipping (if any) will be awarded in digital form. Ex. Ebooks instead of paperbacks.
  • All poets must be at least 18 years of age to enter.
  • There is a $5 Entry Fee to enter the competition. This will help go toward the sponsoring of the prizes for the winners (See Below). If you are a member of the email list your fee is waived. If you would like your fee waived, sign up  HERE and email your poem to enter. Anyone who subscribes only to unsubscribe before the competition is complete (any time before the winners are announced) will be disqualified for the win. Any subscription that has not been made before 11:59pm EST on June 1st will  be disqualified.
  • Authors of the winning poems grant Yecheilyah of Yecheilyah Books LLC and Literary Korner Publishing the right to publish their winning poem on her blog located at www.thepbsblog.com. Permission is granted upon entry of the contest for publishing to The PBS Blog. The poets retain all rights and copyrights of their own work.
  • Multiple entries to this contest are allowed. If submitting multiple poems there is a 2-poem max.
  • Entry is taken as acceptance of ALL of these guidelines.

Submission Instructions:

Click THIS link to pay the entry fee.

Or Click on THIS link and subscribe to Yecheilyah’s email list.

This will automatically give your name and email address.

*If you are already subscribed to my list you are halfway there! Just email me your poem*

Once you’ve paid the entry fee OR subscribed to the list, please send your poem(s) to yecheilyah@yecheilyahysrayl.com.

Submissions are accepted NOW through June 1st 2021.

Winners are announced September 1st and 6th, 2021 on The PBS Blog and across social media.

Video submissions are welcomed! This is a chance for you to get creative.

Prizes:

2nd, 3rd, 4th Place Prizes

  • $25 Amazon Giftcard nested inside a specialty gift box. The card has no fees and no expiration date and is redeemable towards millions of items storewide at Amazon.com (ecards for International Winners)
  • Signed Copy of I am Soul + My Soul is a Witness + Matching Bookmarks (ecopies for International Winners)
  • Writing Journal and Diamond Pen
  • Poem Published to The PBS Blog at thepbsblog.com (exposure to over 3100 subscribers)
  • Interview on The PBS Blog at thepbsblog.com (exposure to over 3100 subscribers)
  • Social Media Promotion Across All Platforms (IG, Twitter, FB)

1st Place Winner / The Grand Prize

The first-place winner receives everything under 2-4th place with an exclusive publishing package courtesy of Yecheilyah Books LLC’s publishing arm Literary Korner Publishing. Yes, you heard me right! I will finance the publishing of your next (or first!) poetry ebook. As the grand prize winner, you get the following (in addition to everything else):

  • Book Cover Design (ebook only)
  • Copyediting
  • ISBN Assignment
  • Digital Format for e-readers such as Kindle
  • KDP Set-Up
  • PreOrder Set-Up (Optional)

The most exciting thing about this prize is I will work with you one-on-one every step of the way so you can know what to do the next time you want to publish a book. I am not here to fish for you. I am here to teach you how to fish so you can keep eating.


Let’s GOOO!!

Deadline to Submit is 6/1/2021

Yecheilyah’s 1st Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2017

Yecheilyah’s 2nd Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2018

Yecheilyah’s 3rd Annual Poetry Contest Winners 2019

Black History through Poetry

I hope you are all doing well and all that good stuff. I have not blogged much lately because I am working on The Women with Blue Eyes and tons of other projects, including our 4th Annual Poetry Contest I want to get underway next month.

If you are new here, welcome to The PBS Blog! This is a great time for you to learn more about who I am through my most recent interview

Below is a snippet of the interview and links with WRDE-TV, an affiliate of CBS. Also find links to Fox 34 and WBOC, affiliate of NBC. (If you read one, you’ve read the others cause it’s the same article, just on different platforms.)

Interview Snippet:

What’s your best piece of advice for readers who desire to find success in their life?

Y: Faith without works is dead, so my best advice is to do your work. Get on your knees and pray and then get on your feet and work. I hate to sound so overly simplistic, but sometimes things are a lot simpler than we make them out to be. We must be willing to do the work necessary to manifest all that we believe we can achieve. Belief is good, but alone it is not enough so I cannot tell you to just believe in yourself. You must prove this belief with action. What you say you believe is one thing, but what you do exposes who you really are. Whatever it is you say you want, you must act on it for it to become a reality.

Not only must we love ourselves and believe in our ability, but we must also be prepared to do the work necessary to turn the unseen into the seen. Consistency is also key because while actions speak louder than words, consistency speaks louder than both. These skills Yah has blessed us with are not intended to serve only us. They are meant for us to multiply. This is possible when we combine a steadfast belief with a compelling work ethic.

Speaking of success, what does the word mean to you?

Success to me means to genuinely enjoy what you do with your life without sacrificing your authenticity. It means to multiply your gifts to serve as many people as is destined for as long as the breath of life is in your body and you are walking this earth. To do so with as much grit and love as possible, and to do it all while staying true to your integrity.

Read more at one of these links:

FOX 34: https://www.wdfxfox34.com/story/43500189/author-and-poet-yecheilyah-ysrayl-teaches-black-history-through-powerful-poetry

WRDE: https://www.wrde.com/story/43500189/author-and-poet-yecheilyah-ysrayl-teaches-black-history-through-powerful-poetry

WBOC: https://www.wboc.com/story/43500189/author-and-poet-yecheilyah-ysrayl-teaches-black-history-through-powerful-poetry


Read I am Soul or My Soul is a Witness? Don’t forget to leave an honest review! Links below.

Click here to review (or buy for 99cents!) I am Soul

Click here to review (or buy) My Soul is a Witness

Signs You Are Not Ready to Self-Publish Part 1: Skipping Revisions

I am deep in revisions for my first fantasy novel, The Women with Blue Eyes: Rise of the Fallen. I am on the clock because I want my editor to start work on it next month. As I go over my work, I realize how horrified I would have been not going back over this. As usual, I want to share what I am learning with you. In this new Indie Author Basics series, I am sharing some signs I have noticed that indicate that you are probably not ready to Self-Publish that book.

You Skip the Revision Process

Step one in the process of Self-Publishing is to write the book. It is unnecessary to self-edit during this stage because it would be challenging to finish the book if you are editing as you are writing. Step one is like a brain dump where you are getting everything down on paper. It is the most exciting part of the journey as you let your ideas and creativity flow. Step one is creating the rough draft of your story, the version of your manuscript that is complete but not polished.

I know a writer is not ready to Self-Publish when they skip the revision process.

Revisions are rewrites of the manuscript before sending it to a professional editor.

It is AFTER the book is finished because you don’t want to edit as you write (you’ll never finish) but BEFORE the professional edit.

The rewrite is more challenging than the rough draft because you are not only putting your ideas on paper, but now you are organizing those ideas, cutting out what doesn’t work, and working with what does work. The revision stage (rewrites) strengthens your work into something worthy of publication.

If you skip this stage, you are publishing your rough draft. If you send the rough draft to an editor, you will still ultimately publish your manuscript’s rough draft version. While the editor can clean it up some, it is not the editor’s job to write the book for you. If you are looking for someone to write the book for you, you need a Ghostwriter. If you want to write your own book, it is essential not to skip the revision process when you are Self-Publishing.

The rough draft is not the final draft and will not be the best representation of your writing.

How to Know if You Have Skipped Revisions:

  • You just finished writing the book. You have made it to the end, and you are done. You take this book , create a PDF, and upload it to Amazon. You have not gone back to rewrite or make corrections, and you have not had it properly edited. If I have described you, you have skipped the revision process.

 

  • Technology has been your godsend. You have finished recording your book using speech-to-text technology that has translated your words to the page. You finish the book, but you don’t rewrite what you spoke into the document for comprehension. Everything is kind of all over the place. If I have described you, you have skipped the revision process.

 

  • You just finished writing the book. You have made it to the end, and you are done. Then, you take this version (the rough draft) and send it to an editor. If I have described you, you have also skipped the revision process. And unfortunately, for your editor they have the job of rewriting your book. If they are a quality editor, they will send the MS back to you and request a rewrite.

If you have not gone back over your rough draft to make changes, this is a sign you are not ready to Self-Publish.

Check out more Indie Author Basics Here.

Also, here are some ideas for revising!

Revisions: Self-Editing #amwriting

Revisions Part 2

Yecheilyah’s Movie Reviews: Judas and the Black Messiah

We were knee-deep in a new pandemic when I noticed this film in August 2020. Immediately upon seeing the trailer, I was hooked. I could not wait to see the movie. Well, it is 2021, and the film is finally here, and you better believe I saw it. Here are my thoughts.

If you are familiar with biopics, you know they are based on a true story, so you already know how this ends. Still, I must tell you this review contains spoilers if you have not seen the movie.

Judas and the Black Messiah

First, let’s talk about this title.

Judas was one of the original twelve emissaries chosen by the Messiah, but he was a traitor. So, when the Scribes and Pharisees were looking for a way to kill Yahoshua, the Biblical Messiah, they found what they were looking for in Judas. He spoke with the chief priests and captains, who agreed to pay him for his services. (Luke 22:3-6) He is called “the son of destruction” in John chapter seventeen verse twelve because he set out to destroy the savior. After selling out Yahoshua, Judas ended his own life by committing suicide. (Matt. 27:5)

William O’Neal was only seventeen-years-old when the FBI recruited him to infiltrate The Black Panthers after stealing a car and speeding across state lines. Like the biblical Judas was chosen by Yahoshua, O’Neal was selected and promoted to head of security by Chairman Fred. Just as Judas met with high priests and captains of his day, O’Neal met with FBI agents like Roy Mitchell.

Judas was paid thirty pieces of silver, and O’Neal was paid $300 after the raid of December 4, 1969. Judas sold out Yahoshua with a kiss, and O’Neal sold out Fred with a floor plan.

Both committed suicide.

The title of the film is fitting.

Historical Accuracy

Like most movies based on a true story, I expected Judas and the Black Messiah to take some creative liberties. It is not possible, for instance, for us to know exactly what the conversations was like, especially between William and Roy.

However, I found the film to be mostly accurate with only minor exceptions.

Hampton and O’Neal’s Perceived Age

While in the movie, the actors look 30-ish, it’s important for viewers to know they were young in real life. Fred’s activism started when he was just a teen organizing a way for black kids to go swimming in Maywood, a suburb of Chicago. The white kids swam at the pool at a private Veteran Industrial Park, but black kids weren’t allowed. Even though he couldn’t swim, Fred and his friends carpooled black kids from Maywood to a Chicago Park District in Lyons several miles away.

Fred’s outspokenness caught the attention of Don Williams, head of the West Suburban Chapter of the NAACP. In 1964, at just sixteen years old, Fred was head of the NAACP Youth Branch.

William O’Neal was also young, only seventeen, as stated, when he was recruited for the FBI. According to O’Neal’s 1990 testimony in the documentary Eyes on the Prize, he (Williams) was looking for an opportunity to work off his case, which made it easier for Roy Mitchell to recruit him.

I want us to think about this for a moment.

A young man stealing cars and joyriding is not a hard thing to imagine. Young people do stupid stuff as we also did stupid stuff when we were young. This is not to excuse O’Neal’s actions. But, the men’s youthfulness, in my opinion, adds depth when you realize the FBI took extraordinary measures to destroy a movement led by teenagers. The FBI started their investigation into Fred Hampton in 1967, a year before they recruited O’Neal. Fred was nineteen years old.

These were kids and America feared them.

O’Neal’s Repentant Heart

They may have been kids in the beginning but O’Neal grew up working for the FBI and it shows.

In the movie, the fictional O’Neal seemed more repentant than the real O’Neal. Based on his interview in part two of Eyes on the Prize (and in part one as well), I couldn’t help but feel an uneasiness watching him. His eyes shifted a lot, and he had a hard time looking directly at the camera. I could tell recounting the story was bothering him. He seemed kind of cold.

Nick Pope describes what I mean:

“Watching his infamous ‘tell-all’ interview with the 1990 docuseries Eyes on the Prize II, you’d be hard pressed to find a semblance of guilt or shame about his role in the Chicagoan group’s violent downfall. Equally, he refused to accept any blame for the murder of Black Panther chairman Fred Hampton at the hands of the Chicago Police Department in 1969.

“Do I feel like I betrayed someone? Absolutely not. I had no allegiance to the Panthers,” O’Neal told the interviewer, in a section that ultimately didn’t air. He simply thought of himself as a man who “had the courage to get out there and put it on the line”; a man who had been made a “better person” through his work with the FBI. By the end of the conversation, he seemed sanguine about his legacy. “I think I’ll let history speak for me.”

I don’t know how much we can trust that came out of O’Neal’s mouth that day, so it makes sense that filmmakers took it with a grain of salt.

“In an interview, the writers told Decider that the biggest assumptions they made involved Hoover’s knowledge of the raid that took Hampton’s life (which was recently confirmed) and O’Neal’s relationship with Mitchell. For the latter, they had to fill in some gaps, as O’Neal’s information – available via the docu-series Eyes On The Prize featured at the end of Black Messiah – is understandably unreliable.” (Gabriel Ponniah)

“Nine months after conducting the explosive interview, in the early morning of 15 January, 1990, the 40-year-old committed suicide by running out onto the westbound lanes of Chicago’s Eisenhower Expressway.”

Although O’Neal does not appear repentant, that’s not for any of us to decide. “In an article from the Chicago Reader titled “The Last Hours of William O’Neal,” O’Neal’s uncle Ben Heard details his nephew’s fear, saying, “He said they had someone tied up and they were pouring hot water over his head. They were trying to get him to do something.” perhaps referencing informant George Sams. Heard went on to suggest O’Neal was plagued by guilt for the rest of his life after Hampton’s murder: “I think he was sorry he did what he did. He thought the FBI was only going to raid the house.” O’Neal’s suicide attempts would back this up – and in the end, one of those attempts succeeded.”

Stanfield did a great job in his role as the Judas that was O’Neal, although it was so stressful for Stanfield that he mentioned needing to go to therapy afterward.

50/50: Did O’Neal Personally Lace Hampton’s Drink?

I had to look into O’Neal personally poisoning Hampton and delivering the drink. I am still skeptical about if he did it personally, but I did discover multiple sources that confirm this part of the story is true.

It’s still 50/50 for me though.

First, why am I skeptical?

When discussing whether he was personally responsible, in one instance he doesn’t outright reject the accusation but in another he also seems to reject it, saying:

“I don’t buy it. There’s just no way. Fred was the type of person that you didn’t have to drug anyway. Fred was always tired. He could get in a car, and we couldn’t ride two blocks without him dozing off. I mean, he, he just, he was a high-energy person that ran on very little fuel, and wherever he’d sit down, he was well-rested. I have never, I have never believed that, I mean…”

Sooo…what happened?

In everything O’Neal spoke about, he never seemed comfortable admitting to poisoning Hampton. This isn’t to say Fred wasn’t drugged because they found it in his system, but perhaps O’Neal was conflicted within himself.

“Per a 2021 report (via Esquire), O’Neal once admitted “while high” that he did indeed drug Hampton. Specifically, the former FBI informant used “a substantial dose” of secobarbital (a barbiturate) in a glass of Kool-Aid, at least according to a “criminal associate” who testified in court.”

O’Neal says Hampton never consumed marijuana or any drugs and that most party members didn’t even drink alcohol so the Kool-Aid thing makes sense. Additionally, In The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI and the Chicago Police Murdered a Black Panther, Hass talks about the report from Cook County chemist Eleanor Berman who ran two separate tests that presented evidence of barbiturates in Hampton’s blood, though he was not known to take drugs.

The FBI did not find such evidence in their own tests, but then, of course they didn’t.

Did William O’Neal personally poison Hampton or did they pin this on him?

What I Know is Real

Outside of these exceptions, I found a lot about the movie to be accurate. Thanks in large part to Fred Hampton Jr., and Akua Njeri, formerly Deborah Johnson, who Dominique Fishback plays in the film.

Hampton’s arrest on the charge of stealing the ice cream happened, the shootout with the officers and the building set on fire and the community helping to restore the building is all true.

The bit about Fred’s mom babysitting Emmett Till is also true.

The Emmett-Till Home in Chicago is becoming a Great Migration Museum

Mamie Till and Emmett were neighbors to the Hamptons. Mamie Till had come to Chicago from Mississippi a few years earlier, and Emmett’s father found a job at the Corn Products Company in Argo (a suburb on the southwest side of Chicago) just as Fred’s father had. Fred’s mother, Iberia, became friends with a woman named Fannie Wesley, Emmett Till’s regular babysitter. Because Iberia stayed home with her children (until Fred was eight), she sometimes babysat Emmett too, who she described as “a handful” (haha). Fred was only six years old when Emmett was brutally murdered in 1955.

In the movie, the FBI wrote a letter to one gang pretending it was from the Panthers to cause disunity in the community.

This is accurate.

The Panthers persuaded members of the Black Stone Rangers and Chicago’s Puerto Rican gangs to call a truce and be of service to the community. From my perspective, Hampton saw their grit and no non-sense demeanor not as a weakness but as something that could be a strength and add value to the movement.

“We all were living in shoddy housing. We all were not receiving education. We all were getting our asses kicked by the police,” says Felipe Luciano. “Why shouldn’t we get together?”

But following FBI director J. Edgar Hoover’s orders, O’Neal and others* undid much of Hampton’s work to foster peace in the community.

FBI agents wrote a letter to Jeff Fort, the Black P Stones leader, saying the Panthers were putting a hit on him. This kind of disinformation happened all the time. Today there is disinformation through Social Media and email. Back then, it was through handwritten letters and phone wiretaps.

The FBI tried to make The Black Panther Party out to be a hate group. Hampton destroyed this idea every time he preached “All Power to All People,” including white power to white people, yellow power to yellow people, red power to red people, and black power to black people. Hampton worked with white-dominated groups like Students for a Democratic Society and the Weather Underground. He called the multiracial groups he collaborated with his “Rainbow Coalition.”

“People learn by example. Huey P. Newton said people learn by observation and participation,’ so we understand by observing that we need to do more acting than writing. We didn’t talk about a breakfast for children program; we got one.”

Photo: History.com

The Black Panther Party’s Free Breakfast Program did so well that the FBI claimed the program indoctrinated and disrupted children. They then vowed to do away with this “nefarious activity” of feeding children.

These are just some examples of the “imaginative and hard-hitting counterintelligence measures aimed at crippling The Black Panther Party.”

This is the extent the government went to discredit, disarm, and do away with the panthers to prevent what they referred to as “the rise of a Black Messiah.”

You know you gotta be doing outstanding work to be considered “the greatest threat to the internal security of the United States.”

*O’Neal was not the only agent. Mitchell had as many as nine informants within the Black Panthers leading up to Fred’s murder. O’Neal went into a Federal Witness Protection Program in 1973, four years after Hampton’s death.

The Quotes

Can we talk about Daniel Kaluuya’s Fred Hampton accent? He nailed it!

Now, look past the fact that Kaluuya looks nothing like Hampton (Tee Hee)

But his accent and acting is on point.

Fred Hampton was an intelligent young man who studied pre-law at Triton College and already had experience working with the NAACP. He spoke quickly and with authority. If you are not careful, you will miss some of what Fred says because he spoke fast. The Hampton quotes recited by Daniel in the movie were spot on, and I enjoyed the creative direction in its delivery.

“We are an organization that understands politics, and we understand that politics is nothing but war without bloodshed, and war is nothing but politics with bloodshed.” – Fred Hampton

The real Fred said this to reporters while standing outside of a Panther office in Chicago during an interview with ABC News. In the movie, they showed him teaching this to members in a classroom setting. I liked this direction because it showcased the teaching role of the Panthers’ activism. In a 1989 interview O’Neal says:

WILLIAM O’NEAL: “We would go through political orientation. We would read certain paragraphs and then Fred Hampton and Rush would explain to us, the new membership, basically what it meant, and what was happening, and they drew parallels to what was going on in the past revolutions in the various countries, like, for instance China or Russia, and they was drawing parallels to what was going on in the current political scene within the United States. So they were drawing associations between the revolutions in, in, in the Communist countries, as I understood it, as to what was happening in the United States. And, and so I understood them to be a little bit more sophisticated than a gang. I expected that there would be weapons, and we would be out there doing turf battles with the, the local gangs, but they, they weren’t about that at all. They were into the political scene: the war in Vietnam, Richard Nixon, and specifically freeing Huey. That was their thing.”

Speaking of politics, my favorite part by Dominique Fishback as Deborah was when she walked up to Fred and told him he was a poet. It reminded me of a speech Amanda Gorman did when she said that Poetry is Political. Their romance scenes were cute.

Even the negative quotes in the movie were pretty much word for word.

“He’s barely alive. He’ll barely make it.”

“He’s good and dead now.”

We heard this in the movie but according to the testimony of Akua Njeri (Deborah Johnson), the police also said this when they killed Fred in real life.

The reason he was barely alive was because of the amount of fentanyl they laced in his drink. Hampton’s autopsy revealed he had enough in his system to knock out a horse.

 

A horse??

Sadly, even if Hampton had not been shot, it is a good chance he would still have died of the poisoning.

Preventing the Rise of Black Saviors

Yahoshua, the Biblical messiah’s purpose was to save his people from their sins, but there were many messiah’s throughout history that saved the children of Israel like Moses.

The Panthers and other organizations like them’ engaged in activities and programs that could save, redeem, and restore the black community in the same way these messiah’s rescued the children of Israel from their oppressors back then. This strikes much fear into the heart of America.

There has always been a separation between righteous revolution and pseudo-revolution. Do not be thrown off by that word revolution. It only means change, and those who set out to positively change the conditions of black people have always been attacked by those who wish for things to remain as they are.

Controversy Over Who Shot First

This is the scene at the Black Panthers headquarters in Chicago after a shootout in which two Panthers were killed in a police raid on Dec. 4, 1969. (AP Photo/Edward Kitch)

The movie gave additional details about what happened in the aftermath through text at the end but did not detail the controversy of the trial.

It would have been a bonus to show how the Black Panther Party took people in the community through the apartment to show what they had done to Fred, Mark Clark, and the others after the raid.

Cook County State Attorney Edward Hanrahan went on TV to say that the Panthers attacked the officers first. The Panthers conducted their own investigation by hosting visuals of the apartment to members of the community. They could do this because although the raid/murders happened on Dec 4th, the apartment wasn’t sealed until Dec 17th, so the Panthers used that time to get evidence that proved it was, in fact, the officers who shot first. Evidence included pictures of bullet holes that were not bullet holes but nail heads.

“Our goal was to really make a movie that captured 1968. But so little has changed between 1968 and 2021, that we don’t really have to draw parallels to the present.” – Shaka King


Sources

“Judas and the Black Messiah” (Film, 2021) Prime Video

The Assassination of Fred Hampton: How the FBI Murdered a Black Panther by Jeffrey Haas (Chapters 1-3)

Eyes on the Prize Documentary (1990)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f0xjBcih9a8&has_verified=1

The True Story of William O’Neal (Esquire)

https://www.esquire.com/uk/culture/film/a35487281/william-oneal-judas-and-the-black-messiah-true-story/

Judas & The Black Messiah Ending Explained

https://screenrant.com/judas-black-messiah-movie-ending-explained/

Washington University Gateway Texts
Interview with William O’Neal

More Movie Reviews Coming! You can find them under the Movie Night Friday page of this blog. From this point, forward movie reviews will be titled like book reviews using the words: “Yecheilyah’s Movie Reviews,” or “Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews.”

Up Next: One Night in Miami