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  Stokely Carmichael

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Stokely Carmichael Speech given at Garfield High School, Seattle, Washington
April 19, 1967

Moderator: After Mr. Carmichael's speech, there will be a question and answer period.

Stokely Carmichael: We wouldn't want to just let white folks have the chance to pose...

I don't know which one belongs to the CIA. I'm trying to figure it out. [Audience Laughter]
Listen to audio file
Good evening. It's good to be here. You know what usually happens is that in the newspapers they call us racists and anti-white and say we hate white folk and all that irrelevant nonsense. And they do that 'cause they use white people as the measuring stick, you know. But I want you to look clear before and you notice that in all their beautiful, liberal press media there isn't one black man. [Applause]

So when the honkies talk tomorrow about violence and anti-white and hating white people, tell them they ought to have a black man reportin' it cause they don't understand 'cause we talkin' to black folk anyhow.

Now tonight we want to (mic bump and "later for all that other junk"). Tonight we want to do several things. We want to talk about some of the basic assumptions from which the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee moves, and then move into an area of pragmatics and what, in fact, black people are gonna have to do if we gonna survive in this country and live as human beings.

The first thing we want to talk about is the theory of self-condemnation. And then we want to move on, talk about denying one one's freedom as opposed to giving one one's freedom. Then we want to talk about the importance of definition and the need for black people to define themselves as they see fit in this society and to have those definitions recognized by our oppressors—white society.

And we want to talk about violence. Because it's going to be important, cause I don't know why everybody's so scared about it. They're going to draft you all and send you off to Vietnam, I guess you gonna go over there and make love to the Vietnamese. [Laughter]
Listen to audio file
Then we want to talk about the lies that this country has told about black people to make us ashamed of ourselves. I want to move on and talk about developing a concept of peoplehood which we desperately need in this country today. And we want to instill among our people, particularly among the young in our generation, the will to fight back when messed over by anybody. [Applause]

We want to talk about self-condemnation. Self-condemnation is impossible. Nobody can condemn themselves or no people can condemn themselves. If they do they have to punish themselves. See, if I did something wrong, and I admitted that I did it wrong, then I have to punish myself, see. But if I can keep telling lies or if I can rationalize away my guilt, then I'll never feel guilty. Hmm, let me give you some examples.

The Nazi's who were brought to trial after Hitler was—after the Hitler regime was brought down, they said, the one's who allowed themselves to live, they said that they killed Jews but that Jews weren't human beings—they were inferior—so they didn't really commit a crime. Or they said they didn't know what was going on in Germany at the time that Hitler was killing all the Jews. Or they say what most white Americans are saying today, we were just following law and order.

Now, if they... if they said that, they rationalized away their guilt—they just served their sentences and waited until they got out. But now the ones who admitted that they killed human beings had to commit suicide—they had to commit suicide. You got to understand that. For us in this country, a clear example of that would be in Neshoba County in Philadelphia, Mississippi, a honky by the name of Rainey, decides with eighteen other honkies to kill three people. Now the entire county of Neshoba cannot indict Rainey because they elected him to do just what he was doing, to kill anybody who troubled with the status quo. If they indicted him, then all of them will be guilty, and they can't do that. See, they cannot admit that they're guilty. And in SNCC we say that white America, the total community, cannot condemn herself for the acts of brutality and bestiality that she's heaped upon us as a race—black people. It's impossible for her to do it. She must rationalize away her guilt. She must blame us or blame everybody else but herself cause if she were to blame herself she would have to commit suicide. My brother Leroi Jones reminds me that wouldn't be a bad idea. [Applause]

Now we want to move from there to the concept of denying one one's freedom. And this is very, very important because white people have assumed that they're God; that they can give somebody your freedom, and so if they don't like the way you act, they won't give you your freedom. [Applause]

But now what you have to get crystal clear in your minds is that nobody gives anybody their freedom. People can only deny somebody their freedom. It's very important. We are all born free. We are enslaved by the institutions of racism that white America produces. Our job is to stop America from being racist; not to... not to give us our freedom. So in reality, our fight is to civilize white America, 'cause it's uncivilized. [Applause]

Now then, if you take that to its logical conclusion, you would say that any civil rights bill that was passed in this country might have eased the struggle for black people but had helped civilize white America.

Let me give you an example. I'm black. I know that I'm black. I know that I'm a human being. And I know with that comes certain dignities that all human beings have. One of those is that I'm able to enter a public place. But now there are some dumb honkies who don't know that. [Audience Laughter]

So that every time I try to enter a store, the honky gets in my way, shoots at me, bombs my church, kills my children, or beats me up. Cause he doesn't know that I'm a human being. So the white folk in Washington, D.C. got to write a civil rights bill to tell this honky, "When I come, get out my way..." [Applause]

So that what they've done is they've civilized this honky—because I'm the same man I was, I still go into the store. The only trouble is that he's now forced to recognize my humanity. That's very important. It's the same thing is true about the Voting Rights Act. We're black, we know we should be able to vote, every time we try to vote some honky stops us. So they got to pass a civil rights bill to stop him from denying us our rights. They don't give us anything! You've got to get that clear in your mind. [Applause]

Now then, we want to talk about definitions 'cause they're very, very important. See, white, western society—and you should use the words "western society," never "western civilization," 'cause they don't know nothin' about it. [Laughter and Applause]

White western society has been able to define everybody. And he just defines 'em and put 'em in places. And when they're defined, they can't get out of those definitions. And people just stay there. Let me give you some examples so you can understand it much better.

You've watched the red man and the white man on TV? Fighting each other? You know, if the red man is winning, then the white man calls for the cavalry. And then here comes the cavalry, and they're riding very white and very proper [Makes horse galloping sounds — Audience Laughter].

And uh, when they get up to where the battle is, they all get off their horses and they get out their guns and they systematically shoot all the red men; you know, kill 'em dead. They get back on their horses and they ride back to the fort, and at the fort there's always a white woman standing there and she says, [in falsetto] "What happened?" [Audience Laughter]

And there's always this lieutenant who says, "We had a victory. We killed all the Indians." This is very good, you know. Now the next time when the reverse happens, when the red man beats the hell out of the white man. [Audience laughter]

And there's one of them left draggin' on the horse, and she says, [in falsetto] "What happened?" "Those dirty Indians; they massacred us." [Applause]

See, what they are saying, is that a massacre is not as good as a victory. A victory is much better. See, so here are these poor red people who all their lives go fight and they never gonna have a victory. Here's Sitting Bull, the greatest strategist you have in a war; he's won all these wars, but he ain't never gonna have a victory; he's always gonna win a massacre. And a massacre is dirty, so you gotta understand that in your minds.

You see that on television all the time, even today about the Vietnam War. You ever see 'em? "Those dirty, filthy, rotton, Communist rebels, they threw a Molotov cocktail and killed civilians." And then the other guy comes on and he says, "And in the meantime, our good G.I. boys have been bombing the hell out of North Vietnam." [Applause]
Listen to audio file
Or even better, would be a group of students at Nashville decide to take care of some honky cops 'cause they pickin' on 'em and it's "Fisk Students Riot!" You know... And in Fort Lauderdale, honkies gonna throw bottles and beer at the policemen and they gonna say "College Students go on a Spree." [Stokely and Audience Laugh]

So that white people have been defining us all our lives and we've been forced to react to those definitions. And see they call us Negroes. Now I guess you all came from "Negro Land." [Stokely and Audience Laugh... Stokely to audience, "You got it, yeah"]. You have allowed white people to name you. When we were in Puerto Rico a couple of months ago, and we were speaking in Spanish I looked through the dictionary to find a word for Negro in Puerto Rican. There is no such word. The closest word in negro, it means "black." In French, there is no word for Negro. In German, there is no word for Negro. In Swahili, there is no word for Negro. [Audience laughter] You wouldn't want me to leave out Swahili, it's what's happening.
Listen to audio file
So that they have defined that and with the word Negro comes people who are dumb, stupid, apathetic, love watermelon, and got good rhythm. [Applause]

But now they do something even more insidious with definitions. Let me give you an example so that we can get into Black Power and the definitions of Black Power. Now you remember, especially for my generation, when the whole thing broke out with integration and we used to sit glued to the TV sets. You know, and our black leaders would got up and say, "We want to integrate." And in our minds we knew the cat was talking about good schools, good houses, good jobs, and a good way of life. That was in the minds of all black people. But some dumb honky gonna jump up and say, [In a drawl] "You wanna marry my daughter don't you?" [Applause]

And instead of our black leaders being aggressive and saying "Later for you honky," at that time they would react to the honky. See they would let him define their own term "integration" and they would say, "Uh, uh, we don't want to be your brother, no. We wanna be your brother. Ah, ah, ah, ah." Yeah, yeah! And they just go to sweating and puffing, "Oh, we don't want to sleep in your bedroom. Oh, we just want to live next door to you." You know, yeah! And so what they were doing was that here was a honky who defined their term and they were reacting to his definition. They don't pull that junk with us at SNCC 'cause we tell them right out when they come with that nonsense about "marrying my daughter." Your daughter, your sister, your mama, we tell them to the point! To the point, to the point! [Applause]

We tell them crystal clear: "The white woman is not the queen of the world"—she's not! [Applause]

She's not the Virgin Mary. She can be made like any other woman. Let's move on to something important! Let's move on to something important." [Applause]

So that we will not be caught in a bind about reacting to their definitions. And the same thing happens, see, we say Black Power and some honky goin' to jump up and say, "You mean violence." And he wants us to say, "Uh-uh, boss man, we don't mean violence." Later for the honky! It's our term—we know what it means. Later for him! Later for him! Later for him! [Applause]

Black Power is the coming together of black people to fight for their liberation by any means necessary. [Applause]

Now we want to talk about violence. Because I understand now that some of your so-called Negro leaders have been saying that we violent. I won't deny it. Yeah, I'm violent. Somebody touch me, I'll break their arm. But the problem isn't one of violence, see. The problem is one of hitting back white people when they hit you. That's the real problem 'cause we've never done that all our lives. They've been able to walk over us, bomb our churches, beat us up, shoot into our houses, lynch us, and do everything they wanted to do and we would just sit there and whisper about it behind closed doors. It's a new day today! It's a new day today! [Applause]

But what really upsets me is that these people who talk about violence are not concerned about black people. Because there is more violence in our neighborhood on Friday and Saturday night than there is anyplace else, anyplace else. Yeah! We cut and we shoot each other more then we touch anybody in the world, and don't nobody talk out against that violence—nobody talking about it! [Applause]

And the reason they don't do it is because they don't give a damn about us. They're only concerned about white folk. [Applause]

If they were against violence, they would be preaching nonviolence in the black community, 'cause that's where we need it most. We need it there. We need to learn to love and to respect each other and stop cutting and shooting each other. But they don't care about us! They don't care about us, no! [Applause]

The only time you hear these preachers talk about nonviolence is when a honky hits you and you gettin' ready to take care of business. That's the only time you hear them, yeah! [Applause] Then you see 'em on television, the only role they have is to condemn their own people. "Oh, we don't believe in violence, those vagabonds throwing rocks and bottles... Oh, yes we believe in the war in Vietnam. We think our boys should go over there and shoot. But we don't believe in violence at all." What is that junk? They gonna put you in a uniform and send you 8,000 miles to shoot a man who ain't never called you a nigger? Get outta here! Yeah! [Applause]
Listen to audio file
And you get cats like Lyndon Baines Johnson get up on TV and say, [In a drawl] "My fellow Americans, every night before I go to sleep, I ask myself what have I done to preserve peace in this country." [Audience Laughter] Yeah. And yet he talking about preserving peace and dropping bombs all over Hanoi. Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb. And then he gets up before national TV, and he says, "Violence never accomplishes anything." Well if the honky believes it, tell him to use nonviolence in Vietnam! [Applause]
Listen to audio file
What they're saying is violence is OK against everybody except the white man, that's what they're saying. [Applause] And you ought not to get fooled by it. You ought to understand, that in the world there exists, especially in this country, a victim and executioner relationship. We are the victims, and white people are the executioners. And they have kept us down by force and by violence. And that if we are violent, it's just that we have learned well from our teachers. Thank you very much. [Applause]
Listen to audio file
They have bombed our churches, they have shot us in the streets, they have lynched us, they have cattle-prodded us, they have thrown lye over us, they've dragged our children out in the night. We have been the recipients of violence for 400 years. We've just learned well how to use it today. Don't you ever condemn people for using violence. And those black preachers get up, you tell them to get the guts to condemn white folk for the violence they've heaped on us. If they can't do that, if they can't condemn the white folks, tell them to keep their mouths shut! [Applause]

So don't you get caught up in no discussion about violence. We just making it crystal clear to the honky today that if he try to shoot us, we gonna kill him 'fore God get the news. Period! [Applause]

Now if he doesn't want to get shot, tell him to stay home. Cause they leave their beds and their wives at three o'clock in the morning and come to our community and go work out their frustration by shooting into our community. If they got frustrations, tell'em, "Go see a psychiatrist." [Applause]

So you got to understand that one in your mind, and don't got carried away with that nonsense about riots. You ought to understand, you ought to be proud of your black brothers in Nashville. You ought to be proud, because what happened was on Friday night two honky policemen going to walk into the middle of the neighborhood and gonna start beating up on a black brother. And when the other brothers told them they didn't have to, they gonna turn on them. But they forgot: It's a new day! It's a new day! [Applause]

See they didn't recognize that this generation is saying if you wear a sheet at night, or a badge in the day, if you put your filthy white hands on our beautiful black skin, we gonna TCB, period! Period! Period! [Applause]

So that, you just dismiss that nonsense about violence. When they tell you about violence, you tell them 'yeah we dig your nonviolence in Vietnam. We dug your nonviolence in Hiroshima and Nagasaki'. You tell 'em we dug that, yeah. [Slight Audience Laughter, Applause] We ain't gonna forget the Congo baby, we dig it there too. [Audience Laughter] They dug... they tried violence in Cuba, but Castro took care of them. [Laughter] Yeah.
Listen to audio file
Now we want talk then pragmatically about how these things affect our lives as black people. What white America has done in order to rationalize away her guilt for what she's done to us, is that she's told a number of lies about us that she believes. Now that's expected. Hitler said if you tell a lie long enough, and hard enough, everybody will think it's the truth. And white American has done that. But what is pathetic and what is bad is that some black people believe those lies about themselves. Yes. And so what we have to do tonight is begin to clarify those lies for ourselves.

You all don't mind if I take off my jacket, do you?

[Audience: "No"]

Us draw heat you know!

[Audience Laughter and Applause]

Now the first lie that white America told about us is that we are a lazy people. Are you hip to that? And here goes some of us down the street, "Oh, oh, we just lazy. We could be just like white folk, they always working hard and trying to get somewhere. But we so lazy." You ought to get it in your minds, we not lazy. We hardworking. White people are lazy. Look here. They were so lazy they came to Africa to steal us to do their work for them. [Applause]

We're not lazy. We are the hardest working people in this country. We are! The trouble is we are the lowest paid and the most oppressed and the most exploited people in this country. In this country, yeah! We're not lazy people. If you ride up and down the Delta in the South today, you will see black people chopping and picking cotton for two dollars a day while white folks sit on the porch, drink Scotch, and talk about us. We're not a lazy people. It is our mothers who take care of their own family and then go cross town to take care of Miss Ann's family. So you should get that out of your mind. We're not lazy. We are a hard working, industrious people. Always have been—our sweat built this country. Built this country. [Applause]

Now the next lie she tells is what she tells our kids in school. If you work hard, you will succeed. Now you all ought to know that's a lot of junk. Cause if that were true, black people would own this country lock, stock, and barrel. [Applause]

It's not a question of hard-working. It is a question of he who has power and he who has control. That's all. That's all it's about. Because we are the people who really built this country. We are the domestics. We are the sharecroppers. We are the fruit pickers. We are the janitors. We are the elevator men. We are the garbage men. We are the hardest working people in this country. We are. See and if it were true that you had to work hard to succeed, then the contrary of that would be true, that people who didn't work hard would be poor. And Bobby Kennedy would be the poorest honky in this country. [Applause]

So then we must begin to get it crystal clear in our minds, it is simply a question of he who has power. And we don't have that. We got everything else but that and the white man ain't got nothing but that. You ever dug it? We got love, we got nonviolence, we got morality, we got Christianity, we got rhythm, we got everything you need. But we ain't got power. But we ain't got power. Yeah! [Applause]

The honkies don't have love, can't spell nonviolence, they don't know what religion is all about, and you know they ain't got rhythm. [Applause]

But they have power! That's what they have. Power over our lives! So we got to get it clear, the thing we need is power. Yeah.

The next lie they tell us is this thing about education. If you go to school and get a degree you gonna make it, you know. All our college students when they get out of college with a college degree, make less money than a honky with a high school degree. Not only that, the education system that they teach us is riddled with racism! It is filled with racism! We can't see ourselves projected anywhere. They show us as a stupid people to let us keep thinking we're stupid. They start off with their elementary books about Tom, Dick, and Jane. Tom is white, Dick is white, Jane is white, even their dog Spot is white! [Applause]

And the only time we see ourselves is little black Sambo on the last page eating watermelon. [Applause]

But not only is it riddled with outright racism, it is riddled with subtle racism, and the history books just lie! They lie! Yes. And they have to lie because white people got to lie to themselves! They cannot tell the truth about themselves! Yes. And what happens is they fill our minds with all those lies and have us accept them as truths. Let me give you an example of one that's very hard but you gonna dig it.

If I said to you that Mr. Kwame Nkrumah, who's a brilliant black man—he's out of sight, he should be your hero. Don't let them white folk fool you, he's out of sight. And if I said to you that Mr. Kwame—you wouldn't know about him because he's a leader in Africa, or was until the CIA overthrew him. And if I said to you that Mr. Kwame Nkrumah discovered England in 1961, you'd laugh, huh? But if that was the first time that that black man had stepped foot on England, and if we as black people did not recognize the existence of non-black people, he would have discovered England, huh? If I said to you that Christopher Columbus discovered American in 1492 you would say that that's right. If you were my teacher, you'd give me an A. Alright? Now dig. Here comes this honky from Europe, steps foot on this country, there are red people are here, but they don't exist, so he discovers it. [Applause]

And this has been the history of white society. They have never recognized anybody who is non-white! So nothing happens until they come and find you! [Stokely Laughs and Audience Applauds]

But now you've got to dig this thing about Columbus real deep. Cause they tell you that he discovered America and he was a dumb honky. I mean he's stupid. He died thinking he was in India that is how dumb he was! That's how dumb he was, yes! [Applause]

And because he was stupid, he titled the red man, "Indians." And to this day they have the name 'cause some dumb honky thought he was in India.

So you've got to understand that. That's how riddled with racism it is—that you can't even recognize it. They don't even recognize how racist it is to say that Christopher Columbus discovered America. And they never will admit it. They can't, they can't.

Not only that, if you go read the history of this country we would say that this country is a nation of thieves. It started off by stealing the country from the red man and committing genocide against him. Genocide against him, yeah! [Applause] Not only did it steal the country from the red man—it wasn't satisfied—it turned around and it stole us from Africa. Yeah! Yeah! [Applause] You've got to understand that this country has been a nation of thieves and is moving to become a nation of murderers in Vietnam, and we've got to stop it! We've got to stop it. Because we have to save our humanity. Let white America do as she will, but as black people we will save our humanity.
Listen to audio file
That's very, very important .

They start our kids off with the Roman Empire, with the Greek Empire. They never teach you about Africa. They make you ashamed of Africa.

You ask kids, "Where you from?"

"My mother from Seattle."

"Where your grandmother from?"

"From Kansas."

"And where your great grandmother from?"

"From Texas."

"And where your great-great-grandmother from?"

"Mmm-umm" [I don't know.]

She is from AF-RI-CA! AF-RI-CA! [Applause]

But you don't know anything about Africa 'cause you let white people define Africans as savages. Yes, see? You let 'em define 'em for you and you don't want to be a savage. You want to be white. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Um-hmm. [Applause]

You want to be so white that you don't want to part of your brothers in Africa! You want to be so white that you go to the movies to watch Tarzan! Yeah! Um-hmm. You want to be so white that you sit up on your movie seats and yell for Tarzan to beat up your black brothers! That's how white you want to be! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! [Applause]

You should recognize what they're doing to you! Here you are jumping up and down identifying with a white man—and he's dumb! He's dumb—he can't even speak. All he says is [Tarzan Yell]. Yeah! Yeah! [Applause]

And you over there identifying with this white man 'cause what they telling you is here comes a honky from Europe, and because he's so smart and so intelligent, and we black and stupid, he comes over to Africa and he knows the jungle better than us, and we been living there all our lives. Yeah! Are you hip to that? [Applause]

And whenever we get into trouble with the elephants, we got to go to the great white father to talk to the elephants for us. Ain't that some junk? What you have to recognize is that what they have done is brainwashed us! When you see Tarzan on TV, you yell for your black brothers to come together and beat the hell out that white man. Beat him up! Beat him up! [Applause]

But see that has been calculated by white America, that we will never find out about ourselves! Because a people without its roots, a people without it history is like a tree without its roots and we been floating for 400 hundred years! Just floating. Just floating. [Applause]

They didn't tell you that the first university in the world was the university in Timbuktu in Africa, did they? Africa, did they? [Applause]

They couldn't tell you that because you would begin to identify with Africa and be a part with other black people! They tell you about the Roman Empire conquering the world, they don't tell you that Hannibal, a black man, crossed the Alps and beat the living daylights out the Romans! That's right! Hannibal did it! [Applause]

And when they get ready to put Hannibal in the movies, they put a honky like Victor Mature playing Hannibal. Yeah! Yeah! Cause they don't want you to know that Hannibal was black. But I'm here to tell you that he was a proud black man! Proud black man! That's right! He crossed the Alps and went into Italy and smashed the Romans. You know you see those Italian honkies running around here with dark complexion and brown eyes, Hannibal did that—Hannibal! Hannibal did that! Hannibal did that! [Applause]

The next time some Italian honky calls you a nigger tell him "Get on outta my face, I'm your Daddy!" [Applause]

But they can't afford to tell you about the things that black people did because you would identify with them. They tell you about Napoleon Bonaparte. Did they tell you that a little black man who was a slave named Toussaint L'Overture in Haiti, beat him up and sent him back to France crying like a baby? Crying like a baby? Yeah! [Applause]

They leave that out of your history books because they want you to be ashamed! And when Napoleon got back to France, his wife was pregnant for a Pygmy! Get to that! Get to that! Get to that! [Applause]

And when Napoleon looked at his wife he asked her what happened when the baby was born black. She said the little man was staring at me. Napoleon said, "He must have had an awful penetrating stare my dear!"

But they won't give you that in the history books. They give you white heroes to identify with. They mesmerize our minds. They give you George Washington. He's supposed to be a hero. Here's a man who had you enslaved—sold a black woman for a barrel of molasses—and he's supposed to be my hero? Later for him!

They can't tell you about the Nat Turners and the Denmark Veseys, can they? Can they? They can't tell you about them because they were fighters who beat up all kinds of white folk who were trying to make 'em slaves. That's why they won't tell you, 'cause they want you to keep on being slaves. They want to define your very actions. It ain't going to happen to today!

All of those things in the schools are calculated to make us ashamed of ourselves. But the most insidious things they could have done to us is to make us believe as a people that we are ugly. [Audience murmurs]

The criteria for beauty in this society is set by white folk. In the books you read, in the television programs you see, the movies, the magazines, and the newspaper. If she's beautiful she's got: thin nose, thin lips, stringy hair, and white skin—and that's beauty. Yeah! And they've made you believe this beauty so much that our women run around yet bathing in magnolia cream from morning to the night! From morning to the night! Yeah! [Applause]

They have got us believing that that our young men go out and conk their hair so they can have straight hair to look beautiful. [Applause]

I hope you can take the truth! I hope you can take the truth! Cause they've mesmerized our women's minds that they process their hair every Friday night. [Applause]

And the rest of them get their fifty dollars and buy wigs. We have to as a people gather strength to stand up on our feet and say, "Our noses are broad, our lips are thick, our hair is nappy—we are black and beautiful!" Beautiful! Yeah! [Applause]

So that we don't have to be any longer ashamed of ourselves and make our children think that they're shamed. So our parents won't tell us, "Don't drink coffee, because it makes you black. [Applause] Bite in your lips, 'cause it's too thick." And I was surprised when I was at college to find a young man who wore a nose strip on his nose every night. But that's how they have messed up our minds. They've messed it up so much that every time we get ready to pick somebody who's beautiful, you pick somebody who is light, bright, and damned near white. All right! [Applause]

And our mother's keep telling us, "When you marry somebody, make sure their hair is, you know, up straight. Because I don't want to be... hmm-hmm."

That's how much they have messed up our minds. We are ashamed of ourselves and of our color of our skin.

If you want to start a fight, call somebody black. "I ain't black. They's black, they's black. I ain't black. What you talkin' 'bout?"

You are black and beautiful! Stop being ashamed of what you are! [Applause]

Once we stop being ashamed, we can move on. Cause we can then begin to develop a concept of peoplehood. Oh, we so ashamed of each other. "Now I'm on the bus today and there are five of us standing there. And here she comes. She gonna stand next to us. We so clannish. We gonna go stand over there 'cause we always like to be together." We are so ashamed we don't even want to see each other in a group. We are so ashamed of ourselves that we walk down the street and see a honky cop beating up one of us, and know the honky cop beating him because he's black and keep walking right on by. Right on by. [Applause]

We are so ashamed of ourselves, that we watch our brothers and sisters get put out of their houses, put their furniture on the street, and we wait until night time to go and steal what we want. Yeah! We are so ashamed of ourselves that we're raping, plundering, and murdering each other. We have to build a concept of peoplehood where we recognize that we are all the same people, the same brothers and sisters. So that we can move to the strength to tell them, "When you touch one of us, you've got to touch all of us." [Applause]

And when we can begin to move to that position, ain't none of them gonna mess with any of us. Yeah! But the reason is they know they can come into our communities, beat us up, take our women, and we gonna do nothing 'cause we don't even want to associate with them. You had better wake up. The rest of your brothers and sisters are coming together. They not letting them come in there and picking on one anymore. That's what we got to do. If they touch one, they got to touch all. [Applause]

That is the only way we are going to survive as a people. You got to understand that. Now I want to point out something to the older folk, who get upset about this thing called law and order. They say, "Well the trouble with that nigger and SNCC is they goin' around there and they stirring up trouble and breaking law and order." Yeah! And they say, "Oh, they talk so bad and so mean." Let me tell you, of all the harsh words we say in SNCC, we can never begin to match the treatment that white America has heaped upon us and continues to heap upon us! Continues to heap upon us! [Applause]

We can call them honkies until they turn red. We ain't even begun to match what they have done to us. So don't you get disturbed about the words, it's about time somebody spoke up! [Applause]

But see our older folk talk about law and order, 'cause they don't recognize that you can have law and order and have injustice. This country has law and order. It don't have justice for black people! Don't have none! Don't have none! Yeah! [Applause]

Hitler had the most efficient system of law and order—he couldn't spell justice. Yes, so what we saying to 'em is that you may have law and order, but if you ain't got justice, you ain't gonna have no law and order. You ain't gonna have it. You ain't gonna have it.

You tell them like Jesus Christ told them. "I have come to bring the sword, not the shield. I have come to turn son against father, mother against daughter, nation against nation, for where there is injustice there shall be no peace." [Applause]

And wherever the honkies are heaping injustices upon us, in every city, we goin' tear it up! Tear it up! [Applause]

If they want peace in their country, they had better learn how to administer justice. If they don't know how, we will teach them how. [Applause]

So you just explain to them law and order without justice ain't nothing but fascism. Understand that. Cause we have to understand that these folk ain't playing with us. You see a lot of folk out there thinking they're playing. You remember Noah. He said, "Come on and build this ark. You all come on." "Uh-uh." He said, "You all come out and build this ark. The man gonna rain on you all for forty days and nights." [Audience Laughter] "Uh-uh. We ain't... No, the man good to us. He ain't gonna rain on us. I know the man. I work for him all my life. He give me his old clothes. He good to me." Yeah. Noah went on and built the ark, and he rained on him for forty days and forty nights.

Don't you all forget Moses. He told all those Uncle Toms, you all better come on and leave this Pharaoh. "Uh-uh, the Pharaoh good to me. Uh-uh, he good to me. Yes sir, he pat me on the head. I can speak to him any tine I want to speak to him. I go up to his back door and have tea and cookies with him. Yeah. Moses said you all better come on with me through this Red Sea because this Pharaoh is a mean man. "Uh-uh, you just a troublemaker, Pharaoh [Correcting Himself] you just a troublemaker Moses. Pharaoh ain't done nothing to us." And Moses just went on through the Red Sea. He left them behind. When we walk on through today, we leaving a whole lot of Uncle Toms behind. [Applause]

We have to begin to instill in our young people, the right and the will to fight back. We don't have it. You ever see our young kids? Ask them what their name is—[Mumbling] "What's your name?" [Mumbling] [Audience Laughter] You shouldn't laugh. It is very serious. You ask a white boy what his name is: [Loudly] "My name is Richard!"

We are so ashamed of ourselves that our kids won't even hold their heads up high. They learn to bow down before white folk by the time they are nine years old. And our parents call themselves Christians. Did they forget the first commandment? Though shalt have no other gods before me. [Applause]

They have taught us to bow down before white folk as if they were god. And white people believe they god. And that's been the fault of black folk 'cause we let 'em believe they were gods, see. We let 'em play god. But they don't understand that we telling them that play period is over and they better come on home. [Applause]

They think that everybody was put on this earth to benefit them. And they use us against each other.

Well, I want to say two things before I sit down. I want to develop this concept to fight back and then I want to talk about Vietnam. Now see, the only people that our children can identify with in school, and in a school like this, is George Washington Carver and Booker T. Washington. Booker T. Washington was a Super-Tom. [Applause]

And George Washington Carver was an ignorant Super-Tom. Now the reason they teach our kids about Booker T. Washington, was 'cause he used his mouth to do two things—to eat and to say, "Yes, sir." And they want our kids to do the same thing. And I guess the reason they teach us about George Washington Carver was because if white folk didn't have him, they would eat jelly sandwiches for the rest of their lives. [Laughter and Applause]

And he was so stupid that every peanut butter factory in this country today is owned by white folk. And he invented over one hundred uses for the peanut, and white folk got it all. He was so nice to them. Did you see it? He used to go around and teach 'em how to use the peanut and wouldn't come to his own people 'cause we were too dumb and stupid and weren't cultured enough. Yeah! [Applause]

Before I name our heroes for you, I want to talk about this thing called culture. Because the honkies are still defining us today. Do you ever hear 'em? "They are culturally deprived children." Are you hip to that? And here you send your kids to school and they writing a paper, "The Cultural Deprivation of the Black Race." Ain't that some junk? They say we are culturally deprived. You all better let 'em in because they gonna charge me with inciting to riot. [Applause]

They wouldn't let us have the gymnasium and then they're going to charge us with inciting to riot. Now let me tell you, don't you ever let anybody say you are culturally deprived. Because what white folk talkin' about is that they don't recognize our culture until they legitimatize it. Here they were teaching you in school, "Way Down Upon the Suwannee River" and "My Old Kentucky Home" was written by Stephen Foster. [Stokely and Audience Laugh] Ain't that some junk? They gonna tell you a honky wrote music like that about us and for us? He stole it! That's all he did! That's all he did! That's all he did! That's all he did! [Applause]

How could he know how to write it? The trouble is that they steal our music from us and then give it back to us and call it culture. Here come the Beatles, singing our music. They can't even harmonize and they gonna talk about culture. Yeah! Yeah! [Applause]

And then they come taking our kids to school talking about music appreciation. They teach 'em Bach, Vivaldi, Rachmanikov, and all those other cats. And then they say, now let's bring it down to modern music. And they play Gershwin. And they say, "And now we want to talk about jazz. Kids, here's the man who has lead jazz in America more than any other man—Benny Goodman." [Applause] Brothers and sisters do you know that Benny Goodman can not carry the empty trumpet case of Miles Davis? [Applause]

They say we are culturally deprived. Culture is anything man made. If they say we are culturally deprived, they are denying our very existence. Don't let 'em do it to you. We got culture! We got Dr. W.E.B. DuBois! We got Countee Cullen! We got Leroi Jones! We got Mahalia Jackson! We got... [Applause] Yeah! Yeah!

We got the Staple Singers! We got the Mighty Clouds of Joy. We got James Brown! We got Ray Charles! [Applause] Yeah!

And to put the icing on the cake we got Reverend C.F. Franklin and his soulful daughter, Aretha Franklin! [Applause]

Yeah! Sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me! [Applause]

The problem is that our culture is not legitimatized. They have made us ashamed of it. Forget it! They have never had any culture. They have always stolen ours. That's a fact. The blues ain't theirs. Come on, be serious! [Stokely Laughs] Be serious! The blues? We might let them get away with Bach. Beethoven was black. They won't even tell you that in school. He was a Spanish Moor—black as you and I. But they don't tell us that. It's calculated, it is calculated.

We need for our kids when they go to our school, to learn a number of things. They need to learn about Africa! It should be included in their curriculum! Yes! [Applause]

And we don't want 'em teaching our kids German, they should teach then Swahili! Yeah! Yeah! [Applause]

You should learn Swahili so you can talk to your African brothers and the white man won't know what you are talking about. Yeah! [Applause]

We need to know who our heroes are. Our books must have Frederick Douglass. They must have Denmark Vesey. They must have Nat Turner. They must have Dr. W.E.B. DuBois. They must have Richard Wright. They must have J.A. Rogers. They must have Lerone Bennett. They must have Countee Cullen. They must have Alaine Locke. They must have Leroi Jones. And when you get the guts... when you get the guts, tell them you want to learn about brother Malcolm X! [Applause]
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But you don't know anything about Malcolm X. What do you know except what the honkies tell you. He preached hatred. He hated white folk. Hell, white folk writing the paper. They put black people on the last page on a special sheet, call you niggers, and describe you ever time you rape somebody, and they've got the nerve to tell you one of your own hates white folk. And you believe them. You ought to get you a copy of Malcolm X Speaks or the Autobiography of Malcolm X and read it yourself. [Applause] And then when you read it, you will stand up when you hear his name called. [Applause]

But you ought to know that. The history is that white people never let any black man who is speaking for you speak to you. They always castrate him. They always lynch him. They always kill him. Or today, they kick him out of Congress. Yeah! [Applause]

You ought to know that anything they are against, you should automatically be for. Yeah! That's how come we knew Black Power was so good—we said the word, and the whole white world came out against us! We said, "That's it, we got it! Black Power!" [Applause]

Now, finally, then, about the war in Vietnam. So we can have some questions.

Oh, before we do that, see, black people also have to learn how to support their movements. Yeah. We give money to religion but we don't give money to our movements. Yes! Yeah! Yeah! [Applause]

So they're gonna pass the collection plate during this and you should give some money to support what you believe in. You can't have nobody else pay for the music. Cause if they pay for the music, they gonna call the tune. If you want to call the tune, you got to pay for the music. Dig it? [Applause]

So we not going... oh yes, somebody reminded me to use Paul Robeson. I apologize for leaving him out. A great black man. Marcus Garvey, got to do it! Got to do it! [Audience Member Shouts Something] We know all the rest, we don't want to talk about the senators from, uh Massachusetts.

"Bomb Hanoi! We want more bombs in Hanoi! Look how white we are!" Yeah! [Stokely Laughs] "Don't call me a Negro. Call me a man, first." [Stokely Laughs] Have you ever heard somebody Jewish get up and say, "Change my name, don't call me Goldberg. Call me Smith." Cause they changed their names? They're ashamed of their heritage? Have you ever heard a black man get up and say, "Don't call me black. I'm a man. Me an American first." Yeah. That's what we want to talk about—American first.

Because that has been the dilemma of the black man in this country! We have always tried to be Americans first and black people all the way down the end! And that's why we catching hell the way we catching it today! Let me tell you why. [Applause]

You ask anybody in this country, what they are: "I'm Polish-American," "Jewish-American," "Italian-American," "Irish-American." "Say what are you little boy?" "American Negro." He wants to be American first 'cause he is so ashamed of himself.

The very first man to die for the War of Independence in this country was a black man named Crispus Attucks! The very first man, yes! [Applause]

He was a fool! Yeah! [Shocked Applause]

He died for white folk country while the rest of his black brothers were enslaved in this country. He should've been fighting white folk instead of dying for white folk! But that's been our history as black people—we've always been dying for white folk! In the American Revolutionary War, they wouldn't let us fight, because we were black, and stupid, and ignorant! Oh, but we wanted to be Americans, brothers and sisters. We wanted to be Americans so bad, that we got out in our bare feet and trampled up and down the eastern shores of this country training with wooden rifles, begging the white folk to let us fight. And finally they came and they said, "Good, you can fight." And they had us fight and we went out and fought the Indians in the War of Independence like fools. We should have teamed up with the Indians! Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! [Applause]

But that was all right! We fought and we won the war! Our blood was shed and they gave us a Purple Heart and pat us on the head and said, "That's a good nigger." The rest of our brothers were still in slavery, but we were fighting because we were good Americans. We wanted to prove to America how good we were to her!

The Mexican American War came, and they were yelling about "Remember the Alamo!" They never told you the Alamo was on Mexican Territory. [Stokely Laughs] But that's OK! We went out there and we begged to fight! There we are again, fighting non-white people! Dying for the white man! The war wasn't even over and we still in slavery.

Then came the Civil War. Our great white father, Abraham Lincoln, who was supposed to free us, started the war in 1861 and didn't sign the Emancipation Proclamation until 1863 'cause the South was beating the living daylights out of the North. Wouldn't even let us fight in the Civil War. He said we weren't fittin' to fight.

And Frederick Douglass, a great black man, had to go to him and urge him to let us fight. And when the South was still winning, he let us fight. But in segregated units! Said Mr. Lincoln, we weren't fittin' to fight next to white men! Oh! But we wanted to prove to America how good we were! So we went out and fought in the Civil War!

Then came World War I and they were drafting white people and they wouldn't draft us! And we were ashamed! "Oh, draft us!" we cried! "Please draft us!" The NAACP begged them to draft us! Our forefathers ran to the draft table! "'We are good Americans—let us fight!" And they sent us over to Europe to make the world safe for democracy and we couldn't even spell the word democracy! That was in World War I! We didn't even come back! We didn't have chance to take our uniforms off after World War I when they hung an entire platoon in Texas with our uniforms on our backs! Oh! But we weren't... no not us. We got to prove what good Americans we are.

So here come World War II, and we gonna fight! We gonna prove how good we are! Let us fight on the front lines! Let us stop this war! We must fight! We're good Americans! Let us take Pork Chop Hill! Let us fight in Poland, to stop Hitler! And our fathers gave their lives in Poland to stop Hitler from running over the Poles, and in 1966 a Polish honky in Cicero gonna throw a rock at us and tell us get out his neighborhood! Yeah! Yeah! [Applause]

Oh! But not us—we were good Americans! We were gonna fight!

And you ought to read Mr. Langston Hughes' The Fight for Freedom and History of the NAACP. He tells you in Texas there was a prison camp and black American soldiers who had gone to Europe to fight for this country were bringing home Nazi prisoners and they put 'em on a train in New York and when they get to Washington, D.C., the white Nazis, who were enemies of this country sat in the front of the train, and the niggers had to sit in the back! [Applause]

Oh! But we wanted to prove what good Americans we were! May I remind you that in World War II, we fought in segregated units! Oh, but that wasn't enough. No, we wanted to be good Americans. So, Mr. A. Phillip Randolph in 1947 and '48 mounts a campaign to integrate the troops and Truman gets white enough and he integrates the troops.

And here comes our chance. Korea, at last, our chance to fight with our white brothers. "Oh, we must stop Communism at any price!" was the cry and it was our blood that paid the price. It was our blood that stopped Communism at any price. And our uncles came back to this country with one leg and one arm, only to walk into a store and have some foreigner slam the face in his door and say, "Get out my store, nigger." Yeah. But we wanted to prove what good Americans we were.

In the Vietnamese War, let America prove something to us. We will not fight in their war. [Applause] How could you let them destroy your humanity? How could you let them put you in a uniform and go fight people who have never done anything to you. How could you? When are we going to get the strength to tell this country we will not let her destroy us?
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You see that honky McNamara on television? He ain't nothing but a racist. Standing there talking about, "Yes, we are going to draft thirty percent of the Negroes in the Army. This is where they can have equal, uh, opportunity. Uh, Yeah. Yes... yes it's true they're only ten percent of the population, but this is a better chance for them." When that honky talk about drafting thirty percent black people, he's talking about black urban removal, nothing else! Nothing else! [Applause]
Listen to audio file
You have got to understand that that war on Vietnam is calculated to get rid of us. Thirty-five percent of the people who die in Vietnam are us. By their figures! By their figures! So you know what the true figures really are! You ought to stand up like the greatest, the prettiest, Muhammad Ali. [Applause] And you ought to tell them, "We are not going to fight your war." You get up on your feet and tell them that war is for the birds: Lyndon Bird, Lady Bird, and Loony Bird! Let them go fight it! Let them go fight it! Yeah! Yeah! [Applause]
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You tell them we are no longer gonna kill people just because a honky says "Kill!" You tell them, "When we decide to kill, we will decide who we gonna kill." [Applause]
Listen to audio file
You have to recognize what they're doing. Dr. Martin Luther King was a great leader of his people, until he came out against the war in Vietnam. Dig it? Then all of a sudden, he's not fittin' to lead us anymore because the honky still thinks they picking our leaders for us today. You stand pat behind Dr. Martin Luther King! Stand one hundred percent behind him! Yeah! [Applause] And you tell them that on the question of Vietnam, he's nice to them on how we really feel about it. So you tell them they better be happy with Dr. King, 'cause when some of us get guns, we know who we going to kill. [Applause] So you tell them they'd better be happy Dr. King is as nice as he is about that war in Vietnam. Our blood has been spilt inside out for this country and all we've got to show for it is some honky calling us nigger, rats and roaches and slums, all over the most powerful country in the world! All over the most powerful country in the world! [Applause] Our guts and blood have been spilt for this country and we go to the worst schools this country can produce! We who have spilt our guts and blood for this country. Our guts and our bloods have been spilt for this country, it's time we spill them for our people. Thank you. [Applause]
Listen to audio file

Question: How should Negros resist the draft in Vietnam? Or should they?

Answer: They should say, "Hell no. We ain't going. Period. [Applause] They should follow the greatest, Muhammad Ali, and do just like he done, don't go. And we would urge that of all of you. Black, white and indifferent. They ought not to let people make them high priests. [Applause] And we usually have disagreements with college universities cause people start sissing. And I have no problem cause I just tell them, "If you believe in the war in Vietnam, drop out of school and volunteer. [Laughter] You want to go mess with Ho Chi Minh, it's your business. I don't want to go. That's my business."
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Kief Schladweiler
Librarian, NYC

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