- "Maybe there are forces in this universe we don't understand. But I still believe we make our own miracles."
- —Huey Freeman
Huey Freeman is the main protagonist of The Boondocks syndicated comic strip written by Aaron McGruder, as well as the protagonist and recurrent principal narrator of the TV series with the same name.
Politically sapient and borderline militant, Huey, being a self-described revolutionary left-wing radical, regularly reflects upon current events as well as the plight of African Americans as it relates to a greater American society. Huey's character has often been described as "misanthropic," and "cynical," as often presented in his pessimistic personality. Huey is also a retired "domestic terrorist". He is named after Huey P. Newton, one of the co-founders and leaders of the Black Panther Party. He is voiced by actress Regina King.
Huey, who grew up with his younger brother of two years Riley (also voiced by King) on the south side of Chicago, was moved along with his brother to the peaceful, predominately white Baltimore-suburb of Woodcrest, Maryland by their Granddad. It is strongly suggested that Huey and Riley's birth parents are deceased. This is, in part, based on Robert's dialogue from the first episode stating that he spent the boys' "inheritance" on their new house in Woodcrest.
Huey is a highly intelligent 10-year-old boy, who rarely smiles or laughs, and recognizes and detests the absurdities (both obvious and perceived) of the society in which he lives. His cynicism often touches upon subjects such as politics, religion, the media, businesses and corporations, African-American culture and American society as a whole. Tending to be obstinate in both manner and speech, Huey has demonstrated a depth of understanding that would seem to surpass his young age, such as knowing roughly what is going to happen in the future based on the actions and personalities of the people involved. For example, in "The Fundraiser," Huey accurately predicts what will become of Riley's candy-selling racket, going so far as to give him a bulletproof vest that eventually saves his life. Huey has an amazing fighting style seen through his fights with Riley and other characters throughout the series. Huey is the strongest out of the group due to both his combat abilities and intellect.
Oratorically gifted, Huey has shown the ability to seize and hold the attention of entire crowds of people when he wants to do so. He uses this gift during individual interactions as well, during which he can gain a desired effect depending on his intention. In "The Red Ball", he is also shown to understand and speak Mandarin. Huey is depicted as owning a large collection of books and other reading materials, as he often reads the newspaper, watches the televised news and otherwise makes a point to keep up with current events.
Huey seems to show some fondness for Star Wars, and quotes the series often. In "The Story of Gangstalicious Part 2" he states that he likes Elton John. On at least one occasion, he demonstrated an aptitude for writing fiction in the form of script writing (he wrote a play entitled The Adventures of Black Jesus in "A Huey Freeman Christmas"). He has also written poignant letters and emails to public figures imploring them to support various political causes. He has started petitions, made and handed out flyers, and created and edited his own newspaper titled The Free Huey World Report. He uses such media to express his own opinions and ideas, though their impact is generally limited given their nature and his minimal resources.
Shown to be a highly skilled martial artist, Huey oftentimes demonstrates on various occasions an ability with nunchaku, katana, bo staff, as well as hand to hand combat that far surpasses the expected capabilities of a 10-year-old. Though he has won several fights against Riley, a pair of theater guards, Stinkmeaner on one occasion (although with the help of his grandfather and brother), Ming on another occasion, Uncle Ruckus in the season 3 finale, and his former friend Cairo on another occasion, he has been defeated several times (Stinkmeaner, Luna, Stinkmeaner's crew, and Uncle Ruckus), his fight with Bushido Brown ended in a draw (Bushido Brown left the fight to protect his ward Oprah Winfrey), Luna was a Kumite fighter and a White Lotus expert, and Stinkmeaner was, at the time, a supernatural presence, and although Uncle Ruckus beat Huey the first time it is not shown who won the rematch; the beginning of the fight was the end of the episode. He also fought a few of Winston Jerome's men. Huey regularly beats Riley with ease in their fights despite the fact Riley often uses objects such as frying pans, or golf clubs in their fights implying Huey is very disciplined and skilled against armed opponents. As shown, his style appears to be a mixure of several forms of Kung-Fu, Karate, and Ninjitsu.
In the first season episode "The Real," Huey has several encounters with an undercover government spy in which he dubs as "The White Shadow." At the end of the episode, he is left uncertain whether these encounters were real. The man reappears in the third season finale "It's Goin' Down" to warn Huey that government agents actually are on their way to Woodcrest to apprehend him, forcing him into a desperate attempt to flee the city. Huey is seen praying in the season one finale.
Huey does not consider himself to be religious and has mentioned so several times in the comics. Nevertheless, he very passionately insists that Jesus Christ was black and US president Ronald Reagan is the Devil. As of the third season of the series, the only support he has explicitly given to this theory is that many individuals of African descent lived in the Middle East during the time of Christ. Huey is seen praying in the season one finale.
Huey is shown to admire several historical figures. In "Return of the King", he is the only person who still respects Martin Luther King, Jr. after King awakens from a 32-year coma and is misconstrued by the public as a terrorist. As mentioned before, Huey is named after Huey P. Newton, the co-founder of the Black Panthers. During "The Story of Gangstalicious Part 2" Huey states that Muhammed Ali is a hero of his. He also has many posters of Che Guevara, Malcolm X, MLK, and Hugo Chavez. Three figures he has quoted before are Langston Hughes, Karl Marx, and Khalil Gibran.
While Huey is always portrayed as being a left-wing radical, his specific political ideologies are never actually portrayed in detail in the series as it is in the comic. On several occasions, such as "The Block Is Hot," he has demonstrated a following of Revolutionary Socialism. This is also backed up because Huey has posters of revolutionary socialists in his room. A belief in Anarchism is also plausible, as several of his statements have paid respect to it. In "...Or Die Trying" he teaches a theater ticket taker about Anarcho-Syndicalism and Marxism. However, a moderate belief in Black Nationalism is common, since a desire for a greater unity between the black people of America is a recurring theme. Huey has also quoted Karl Marx, suggesting an understanding of communism. In "The Real", Huey claims to be the founder of 23 radical leftist organizations, including the Black Revolutionary Organization or B.R.O., Africans Fighting Racism and Oppression or A.F.R.O., and the Black Revolutionary Underground Heroes, or B.R.U.H.
In terms of public opinion, the national media within the Boondocks' universe often mistakenly (or rather, satirically) mislabels Huey as a "domestic terrorist" throughout various newscasts seen during the third season. The only deep insight into Huey's spiritual beliefs is when he believed an innocent man on death row whose release Huey had worked for was about to be executed ("The Passion of Reverend Ruckus"). Alone in a field, Huey dropped to his knees and sobbed as he offered up prayers to God; almost simultaneously, a bizarre chain of events led to the man's sentence being commuted by the governor. Upon learning of this, Huey says: "Maybe there are forces in the universe we don't understand. But I still believe we make our own miracles".
Being extremely pessimistic, Huey is rarely seen smiling in the episodes. He is either in a neutral expression or is seen frowning or shrugging. In season one, episode "Let's Nab Oprah" frames 05:11 - 05:14, Huey was seen smiling during a fight with his brother Riley while he teases Riley by pointing a sword to Riley's neck; twice in "The Passion of Reverend Ruckus" at 03:40 when he asks Jazmine to come with him to prison (though the smile is quickly replaced with anger towards Jazmine), and at 15:17 answering the telephone; and twice in "The Block is Hot" at 03:26 when he set up his soap box and 05:45 when he watched Jazmine speak with Ed Wuncler, Sr. In the second season, he is seen smiling in two episodes. Once was in episode "Home Alone" at 18:40 when Granddad returns home after his trip to Costa Rica. The rest are in episode "Ballin'" at 17:07 when Riley finally insults Cindy, the opposing team's star player, enough to make her cry. 12:07, After scoring multiple baskets, Huey is seen smiling at his brother along with Granddad. He is also seen barely smiling at 17:34 during the timeout that Tom called to congratulate the team on their playing. Of any of these few instances, the smile is only a very small grin. Other than those few instances, Huey has never been caught smiling. This is not to say that Huey lacks a softer side, as he will take steps to help and protect those he considers friends or family (ex. Tom, Jazmine, Riley, etc.)
Huey is shown to disagree with the popular beliefs of Christmas. As Christmas has roots in a Pagan holiday, he has suggested Jesus Christ probably hates people for celebrating it. It is assumed that Huey is an agnostic. In the comic strip, he claims that Santa Claus is an Illuminati agent working toward the New World Order. In Season 4, Huey tries to help his granddad find a solution for the money problem. When his granddad signed a form for slavery, Huey was immediately angered and upset about how stupid he was. Huey who claims he is a retired domestic terrorist, still make chemicals and bombs to assassinate Eddie Wuncler so they can get their freedom back.
He feels emotion and has shown a capacity for empathy and warmth towards those he cares about but, generally, he does not let his real emotions and feelings be outwardly shown.
Riley is Huey's younger brother, and regularly represents everything Huey loathes and generally disapproves of.Huey is politically minded and critical while Riley remains uninterested, showing great affection for things like gangsta rap, violence, and "bling", which Huey finds to be culturally poisonous. Despite their constant fighting and his disagreement with Riley's beliefs, Huey cares very much for his brother, and he usually tries to steer him in the right direction, and performs acts which Riley initially ignores, but result in Riley facing the consequences of his actions later on. They also get into furious battles with each other.
Robert Freeman is the paternal grandfather and legal guardian of Huey and Riley Freeman, who often disagrees with many of Huey's political ideas. While in the comic strip, Huey and his grandfather have a much more affable relationship, in the series, they are almost constantly at odds, in part due to his constant favoritism shown to Riley, who supports his grandfather's various crazy schemes. Huey seems to offer Granddad advice in certain situations, such as during "Granddad's Fight", "The S-Word", and "The Story of Thugnificent," attempts that almost always fall flat.The Passion of Reverend Ruckus"), essentially trusting her as an accomplice. Despite treating Jazmine coldly, Huey has shown a proclivity to empathize with her on occasion, and he also shows visible concern for her at times, (for instance, in "The Block is Hot") he campaigns for her release from under the near-child labor contract that she unknowingly signs with Ed Wuncler, Sr, and he gives her his scarf at the end of the episode when she gets cold. Also, when it seems the world is going to end in the episode "The Fried Chicken Flu" Huey let's Jazmine stay at his house so she won't die.
Tom DuBois, represents almost everything Huey is primarily against. Tom, being a strait-laced liberal democrat assistant district attorney, is part of the structure that Huey views as inhibitive and self-destructive. He also dislikes Tom because he is very unmanly and encourages his daughter to conform to a more European look rather than emphasizing her African features, as shown when Tom mentions that he has tried everything to make Jazmine's hair more straight.
Despite Huey's disagreements with Tom, the two are shown generally to be on good terms as he often acknowledges Huey's intellect and maturity to the extent that he will often turn to Huey for advice on subjects ranging from help with his marriage, politics, and his career as a prosecutor (with Huey supporting Tom's prosecution of R. Kelly for statutory rape). When he is put in holding for false accusations of murder and finds out that he will be sent to a real "butt pounding" jail for the weekend - Tom uses his one phone call to beg Huey to catch the real killer before that day's end.
Ed Wuncler serves as a villainous foil for Huey, as Ed Wuncler, Sr., represents indeed everything Huey is against. In spite of this, Wuncler retains a friendly relationship with the Freeman family, despite Huey seeing through his friendly facade as far as the true person Wuncler is inside. Interestingly, Huey considers Wuncler's biases to stem from his greed and influence rather than actual racism.
Huey distrusts Ed and Gin, having seen the two young men perform many criminal and immoral actions and does not hesitate to point out the obvious stupidity behind their careless conduct. He also does not care for the way that they help contribute to Riley's delinquent attitude, leading him to often warn his brother to stay away from them.
In the third season's premiere, neither Huey nor Uncle Ruckus vote for Barack Obama to be elected President, but for different reasons: Ruckus's reason is that Obama is black and he wants McCain to win. Huey, on the other hand, aside from the fact he is not old enough to vote, does not like either one; although he voices little actual opinion during the episode, but it is apparent that he thinks that Obama being President is not going to change anything as many people presume. Huey and Ruckus both plan on leaving the country in a plan called "Operation: Exodus". Huey claims that while he and Ruckus are by no means allies, the association is convenient - Ruckus has a car, and Huey has gas money. Their association is only meant to extend to the Canadian border, at which point they will go their separate ways. The plan fails, however, when agents arrest Uncle Ruckus for threatening Obama. Huey, now unable to get a ride since Ruckus is in lockup, is forced to cancel Operation: Exodus.
During the comic strip's run, Michael Caesar (known by his surname) was Huey's best friend and classmate.Like Huey, Caesar is very much self aware of current events and experienced culture shock after leaving a big city like New York, and moving to the predominately white suburb of Woodcrest. Caesar shares many of Huey's political views but lacks his serious demeanor, preferring instead to engage in critical mockery rather than extreme activism. He never appeared in the animated TV series.
In the 2006 Glyph Comics Awards, Huey Freeman was named Best Male Character.
- "What about the time when Riley and Ed were playing with a loaded shotgun, and Riley shot Ed out of a 2nd story window?" (Let's Nab Oprah)
- "Granddad, Riley's doing the celebratory booty dance!" (The S-Word)
- The truth hurts Jazmine. The world is a hard and lonely place, and nobody gets anything for free, and you wanna know what else? One day, you and everyone you know is gonna die." (The Real)