One of the first things I think young people, especially nowadays, should learn is how to see for yourself and listen for yourself and think for yourself. Then you can come to an intelligent decision for yourself. If you form the habit of going by what you hear others say about someone, or going by what others think about someone, instead of searching that thing out for yourself and seeing for yourself, you will be walking west when you think you’re going east, and and you will be walking east when you think your going west. This generation, especially of our people, has a burden, more so than any other time in history. The most important thing that we can learn to do today is think for ourselves….
I myself would go for nonviolence if it was consistent, if everybody was going to be nonviolent all the time. I’d say, okay, let’s get with it, we’ll all be nonviolent. But I don’t go along with any kind of nonviolence unless everybody’s going to be nonviolent. If they make the Ku Klux Klan nonviolent, I’ll be nonviolent. If they make the White Citizens Council nonviolent, I’ll be nonviolent. But as long as you’ve got somebody else not being nonviolent, I don’t want anybody coming to me talking any nonviolent talk. I don’t think it is fair to tell our people to be nonviolent unless someone is out there making the Klan and the Citizens Council and these other groups also be nonviolent….
If the leaders of the nonviolent movement can go into the white community and teach nonviolence, good. I’d go along with that. But as long as I see them teaching nonviolence only in the black community, we can’t go along with that. We believe in equality, and equality means that you have to put the same thing over here that you put over there. And if black people alone are going to be the ones who are nonviolent, then it’s not fair. We throw ourselves off guard. In fact, we disarm ourselves and make ourselves defenseless. . . .
[W]e of the Organization of Afro-American Unity realized the only time the black man in this country is given any kind of recognition, or even listened to, is when America is afraid of outside pressure, or when she’s afraid of her image abroad. So we saw that it was necessary to expand the problem and the struggle of the black man in this country until it went above and beyond the jurisdiction of the United States. . . .
And today you’ll find in the United Nations, and it’s not an accident, that every time the Congo question or anything on the African continent is being debated, they couple it with what is going on, or what is happening to you and me, in Mississippi and Alabama and these other places. In my opinion, the greatest accomplishment that was made in the struggle of the black man in America in 1964 toward some kind of real progress was the successful linking together of our problem with the African problem, or making our problem a world problem. Because now, whenever anything happens to you in Missis- sippi, it’s not just a case of somebody in Alabama getting indignant, or some- body in New York getting indignant. The same repercussions that you see all over the world when an imperialist or foreign power interferes in some section of Africa-you see repercussions, you see the embassies being bombed and burned and overturned-nowadays, when something happens to black people in Mississippi, you’ll see the same repercussions all over the world.
I wanted to point this out to you because it is important for you to know that when you’re in Mississippi, you’re not alone. As long as you think you’re alone, then you take a stand as if you’re a minority or as if you’re outnumbered, and that kind of stand will never enable you to win a battle. You’ve got to know that you’ve got as much power on your side as the Ku Klux Klan has on its side. And when you know that you’ve got as much power on your side as the Klan has on its side, you’ll talk the same of kind of language with that Klan as the Klan is talking with you. . . .
I think in 1965, whether you like it, or I like it, or they like it, or not, you will see that there is a generation of black people becoming mature to the point where they feel that they have no more business being asked to take a peaceful approach than anybody else takes, unless everybody’s going to take a peaceful approach.
So we here in the Organization of Afro-American Unity are with the struggle in Mississippi one thousand percent. We’re with the effort to register our people in Mississippi to vote one thousand percent. But we do not go along with anybody telling anybody telling us to help nonviolently. We think that if the government says that Negroes have a right to vote, and then some Negroes come out to vote, and some kind of Ku Klux Klan is going to put them in the river, and the government doesn’t do anything about it, it’s time for us to organize and band together and equip ourselves and qualify ourselves to protect ourselves. And once you can protect yourself, you don’t have to worry about being hurt. . . .
You’ll get freedom by letting your enemy know that you’ll do anything to get your freedom; then you’ll get it. It’s the only way you’ll get it. When you get that kind of attitude, they’ll label you as a “crazy Negro,” or they’ll call you a “crazy nigger”—they don’t say Negro. Or they’ll call you an extremist or a subversive, or seditious, or a red or a radical. But when you stay radical long enough, and get enough people to be like you, you’ll get your freedom….