Black August 30th 1948 Fred Hampton SR is Born
We are presenting the speeches here as part of our Reprint Seriespart of our contribution to the effort to overcome the obstacles placed before the regeneration of a New Afrikan revolutionary movement by historical discontinuity.
The present activity surrounding the rebuilding of the national liberation movement constitutes the making of history / social development, and, we believe, along with Regis Debray, that In practice, history, because it is profoundly dialectical, o0nly allows of innovations which develop from an earlier state of affairs, or an earlier stage of development, already familiar to the masses of the people
POWER ANYWHERE WHERE THERES PEOPLE!
Power anywhere where theres people. Power anywhere where theres people. Let me give you an example of teaching people. Basically, the way they learn is observation and participation. You know a lot of us go around and joke ourselves and believe that the masses have PhDs, but thats not true. And even if they did, it wouldnt make any difference. Because with some things you have to learn by seeing it or either participating in it. And you know yourselves that there are people walking around your community today that have all types of degrees that should be at this meeting but are not here. Right? Because you can have as many degrees as a thermometer. If you dont have any practice, they you cant walk across the street and chew gum at the same time.
Let me tell you how Huey P. Newton, the leader, the organizer, the founder, the main man of the Black Panther Party, went about it.
The community had a problem out there in California. There was an intersection, a four-way intersection; a lot of people were getting killedcars running over them, and so the people went down and redressed their grievances to the government. Youve done it before. I know you people in the community have. And they came back and the pigs said No! You cant have any Oh, they dont usually say you cant have it theyve gotten a little hipper than that now. Thats what those degrees on the thermometer will get you. They tell you Okay, well deal with it; why dont you come back next meeting and waste some time.
And they get you wound up in an excursion of futility, and you be in a cycle of insaneness, and you be goin back and goin back, and goin back, and goin back so many times that youre already crazy.
So they tell you, they say, Okay niggers, what you want? And they you jump up and you say, Well, its been so long, we dont know what we want, and then you walk out of the meeting and youre gone and they say,
Well, you niggers had your chance, didnt you?
Let me tell you what Huey P. Newton did.
Huey Newton went and got Bobby Seale, the chairman of the Black Panther Party on a national level. Bobby Seale got his 9mmthats a pistol. Huey P. Newton got his shotgun and got some stop signs and got a hammer. Went down to the intersection, gave his shotgun to Bobby, and Bobby had his 9mm. He said, You hold this shotgun; anybody mess with us, blow their brains out. He put those stop signs up.
There were no more accidents, no more problem.
Now they had another situation. Thats not that gogd you see, because its two people dealing with a problem. Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, no matter how bad they may be, cannot deal with the problem. But let me explain to you who the real heroes are.
Next time, there was a similar situation, another four-way corner. Huey went and got Bobby, went and got his 9mm, got his shotgun, got his hammer and got more stop signs. Placed those stop signs up, gave the shotgun to Bobby, told Bobby If anybody mess with us while were putting these stop signs up, protect the people and blow their brains out. What did the people do? They observed it again. They participated in it. Next time they had another four-way intersection. Problems there; they had accidents and death. This time, the people in the community went and got their shotguns, got their hammers, got their stop signs
Now, let me show you how were gonna try to do it in the Black Panther Party here. We just got back from the south side. We went out therewe went out there and we got to arguing with the pigs or the pigs got to arguing—he said, Well, Chairman Fred, you supposed to be so bad, why dont you go and shoot some of those policemen? You always talking about you got your guns and got this, why dont you go shoot some of them?
And Ive said, Youve just broken a rule. As a matter of fact, even though you have on a uniform it doesnt make me any difference. Because I dont care if you got on nine uniforms, and 100 badges. When you step outside the realm of legality and into the realm of illegality, then I feel that you should be arrested. And I told him, You being what they call the law of entrapment, you tried to make me do something that was wrong, you encouraged me, you tried to incite me to shoot a pig. And that aint coo, Brother, you know the law, dont you?
I told that pig that, I told him You got a gun, pig? I told him, You gotta get your hands up against the wall. Were gonna do what they call a citizens arrest. This fool dont know what this is. I said, Now you be just as calm as you can and dont make too many quick moves, cause we dont wanna have to hit you.
And I told him like he always told us, I told him, Well, Im here to protect you. Dont worry about a thing, Im here for your benefit. So I sent another Brother to call the pigsyou gotta do that in a citizens arrest. He called the pigs. Here come the pigs with carbines and shotguns, walkin out there. They came out there talking about how theyre gonna arrest Chairman Fred. And I said, No fool. This is the man you got to arrest. Hes the one that broke the law. And what did they do? They bugged their eyes, and they couldnt stand it. You know what they did? They were so mad, they were so angry that they told me to leave.
And what happened? All those people were out there on 63rd Street. What did they do? They were around there laughing and talking with me while I was making the arrest. They looked at me while I was rapping and heard me while I was rapping. So the next time that the pig comes on 63rd Street, because of the thing that our Minister of Defense calls observation and participation, that pig might be arrested by anybody!
Wo what did we do? We were out there educating the people. How did we educate them? Basically, the way people learn, by observation and participation. And thats what were trying to do. Thats what we got to do here in this community. And a lot of people dont understand, but theres three basic things that you got to do anytime you intend to have yourself a successful revolution.
A lot of people get the word revolution mixed up and they think revolutions a bad word. Revolution is nothing but like having a sore on your body and then you put something on that sore to cure that infection. And Im telling you that were living in an infectious society right now. Im telling you that were living in a sick society. And anybody that endorses integrating into this sick society before its cleaned up is a man whos committing a crime against the people.
If you walk past a hospital room and see a sign that says Contaminated and then you try to lead people into that room, either those people are mighty dumbyou understand me, cause if they werent, theyd tell you that you are an unfair, unjust leader that does not have your followers interests in mind. And what were saying is simply that leaders have got to becomeweve got to start making them accountable for what they do. Theyre goin around talking about so-and-sos an Uncle Tom so were gonna open up a cultural center and teach him what blackness is. And this n****r is more aware than you and me and Malcolm and Martin Luther King and everybody else put together. Thats right. Theyre the ones that are most aware. Theyre most aware, cause theyre the ones that are gonna open up the center. Theyre gonna tell you where bones come from in Africa that you cant even pronounce the names. Thats right. Theyll be telling you about Chaka, the leader of the Bantu freedom
fighters, and Jomo Kenyatta, those dingo-dingas. Theyll be running all of that down to you. They know about it all. But the point is they do what theyre doing because it is beneficial and it is profitable for them.
You see, people get involved in a lot of things thats profitable to them, and weve got to make it less profitable. Weve got to make it less beneficial. Im saying that any program thats brought into our community should be analyzed by the people of that community. It should be analyzed to see that it meets the relevant needs of that community. We dont need no n*****s coming into our community to be having no company to open business for the n*****s. Theres too many n*****s in our community that cant get crackers out of the business that theyre gonna open.
We got to face some facts. That the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class, and when I talk about the masses, Im talking about the white masses, Im talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses, too. Weve got to face the fact that some people say you fight fire best with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you dont fight racism with racismwere gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you dont fight capitalism with no black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism.
We aint gonna fight no reactionary pigs who run uip and down the street being reactionary; were gonna organize and dedicate ourselves to revolutionary political power and teach ourselves the specific needs of resisting the power structure, arm ourselves, and were gonna fight reactionary pigs with INTERNATIONAL PROLETARIAN REVOLUTION. Thats what it has to be. The people have to have the powerit belongs to the people.
We have to understand very clearly that theres a man in our community called a capitalist. Sometimes hes black and sometimes hes white. But that man has to be driven out of our community, because anybody who comes into the community to make profit off the people by exploiting them can be defined as a capitalist. And we dont care how many programs they have, how long a dashiki they have. Because political power does not flow from the sleeve of a dashiki; political power flows from the barrel of a gunit flows from the barrel of a gun!
A lot of us running around talking about politics dont even know what politics is. Did you ever see something and pull it and you take it as far as you can and it almost outstretches itself and it goes into something else? If you take it so far that its two things? As a matter of fact, some things if you stretch it so far, itll be another thing. Did you ever cook something so long that it turns into something else? Aint that right?
Thats what were talking about with politics.
That politics aint nothing, but if you stretch it so long that it cant go no further, then you know what you got on your hands? You got an antagonistic contradiction. And when you take that contradiction to the highest level and stretch it as far as you can stretch it, you got what you call war. Politics is war without bloodshed, and war is politics with bloodshed. If you dont understand that, you can be a Democrat, Republican, you can be Independent, you can be anything you want to, you aint nothing.
We dont want any of those n*****s and any of these hunkies and nobody else, radicals or nobody talking about, Im on the Independence ticket. That means you sell out the republicans; Independent means youre out for graft and youll sell out to the highest bidder. You understand?
We want people who want to run on the Peoples Party, because the people are gonna run it whether they like it or not. The people have proved that they can run it. They run it in China, theyre gonna run it right here. They can clal it what they want to, they can talk about it. They can call it communism, and think that thats gonna scare somebody, but it aint gonna scare nobody.
We had the same thing happen out on 37th Road. They came out to 37th road where our Breakfast for children program is, and started getting those women who were kind of older, around 58—thats, you know, I call that older cause Im young. I aint 20right, right! But you see, theyre gonna get them and brainwash them. And you aint seen nothin t9ill you see one of them beautiful Sisters with their hair kinda startin getting grey, and they aint got many teeth, and they were tearin them policemen up! They were tearing em up! The pigs would come up to them and say You like communism?
The pigs would come up to them and say, You scared of communism? And the Sisters would say, Noscared of it, I aint never heard of it.
You like socialism?
Noscared of it I aint never heard of it.
The pigs, they be crackin up, because they enjoyed seeing these people frightened of these words.
You like capitalism?
Yeah, well, thats what I live withI lie it.
You like the Breakfast For Children program, n****r?
Yeah, I like it.
And the pigs say, Oh-oh. The pigs say, well, the Breakfast For Children program is a socialistic program. Its a communistic program.
And the women said, Well, I tell you what, boy. Ive been knowing you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper, n****r. and I dont know if I like communism and I dont know if I like socialism. But I know that that Breakfast For Children program fees my kids, n****r. And if you put your hands on that Breakfast For Children program, Im gonna come off this can and Im gonna beat your ass like a .
Thats what they be saying. Thats what they be saying, and its a beautiful thing. And thats what the Breakfast For Children program is. A lot of people think its charity, but what does it do? It takes the people from a stage to another stage. Any program thats revolutionary is an advancing program. Revolution is change. Honey, if you just keep on changing, before you know itin fact not even knowing what socialism isyou dont have to know what it istheyre endorsing it, theyre participating in it, and theyre supporting socialism.
And a lot of people will tell you, way, Well, the people dont have any theory, they need some theory. They need some theory even if they dont have any practice. And the Black Panther Party tells you that if a man tells you that hes the type of man who has you buying candy bars and eating the wrapping and throwing the candy away, hed have you waling East when youre supposed to be walking West. Its true. If you listen to what the pig says, you be walkin outside when the sun is shining with your umbrella over your head. And when its raining youll be goin outside leaving your umbrella inside. Thats right. You gotta get it together. Im saying thats what they have you doing.
Now, what do WE do? We say that the Breakfast For Children program is a socialistic program. It teaches the people basically that by practice, we thought up and let them practice that theory and inspect that theory. Whats more important? You learn something just like everybody else.
Let me try to break it down to you.
You say this Brother here goes to school 8 years to be an auto mechanic. And that teacher who used to be an auto mechanic, he tells him, Well, n****r, you gotta go on what we call on-the-job-training. And he says, Damn, with all this theory I got, I gotta go to on-the-job-training? What for?
He said, On on-the-job-training he works with me. Ive been here for 20 years when I started work they didnt even have auto mechanics. I aint got no theory, I just got a whole bunch of practice.
What happened? A car came in making a whole lot of funny noise. This Brother here go get his book. He on page one, he aint got to page 200. Im sitting here listening to the car. He says, What do you think it is?
I say, I think its the carburetor.
He says, No I dont see anywhere in here where it says a carburetor make no noise like that. And he says, How do you know its the carburetor?
I said, Well, n****r, with all them degreesas many as a thermometer around 20 years ago, 19 to be exact, I was listening to the same kind of noise. And what I did was I took apart the voltage regulator and it wasnt that. Then I took apart the alternator and it wasnt that. I took apart the generator brushes and it wasnt that. I took apart the generator and it wasnt that. I took apart the generator and it wasnt even that. After I took apart all that I finally got to the carburetor and when I tot to the carburetor I found that thats what it was.
And I told myself thatfool, next time you hear this sound you better take apart the carburetor first.
How did he learn? He learned through practice.
I dont care how much theory you got, if it dont have any practice applied to it then that theory happens to be irrelevant. Right? Any theory you get, practice it. And when you practice it you make some mistakes. When you make a mistake, you correct that theory, and then it will be corrected theory that will be able to be applied and used in any situation. Thats what weve got to be able to do.
Every time I speak in a church I always try to say something, you know, about Martin Luther King. I have a lot of respect for Martin Luther King. I think he was one of the greatest orators that the country ever produced. And I listened to anyone who speaks well, because I like to listen to that. Martin Luther King said that it might look dark sometime, and it might look dark over here on the North Side. Maybe you thought the room was going to be packed with people and maybe you thought you might have to turn some people away and you might not have enough people here. Maybe some of the people you think should be here are not here and you think that, well if theyre not here then it wont be as good as we thought it could have been. And maybe you thought that you need more people here than you have here. Maybe you think that the pigs are going to be able to pressure you and put enough pressure to squash your movement even before it starts. But Martin Luther King said that he heard somewhere that only when its dark enough can you see the stars. And were not worried about it being dark. He said that the arm of the moral universe is long, but it bens toward heaven.
We got Huey P. Newton in jail, and Eldridge Cleaver underground. And Alprentice Bunchy Carter has been murdered; Bobby Hutton and John Huggins been murdered. And a lot of people think that the Black Panther Party in a sense is giving up. But let us say this: That weve made the kind of commitment to the people that hardly anyone else has ever made.
We have decided that although some of us come from what some of you would call petty-bourgeois families, though some of us could be in a sense on what you call the mountaintop. We could be integrated into the society working with people that we may never have a chance to work with. Maybe we could be on the mountaintop and maybe we wouldnt have to be hidiin when we go to speak places like this. Maybe we wouldnt have to worry about court cases and going to jail and being sick. We say that even though all of those luxuries exist on the mountaintop, we understand that you people and your problems are right here in the valley.
We in the Black Panther Party, because of our dedication and understanding went into the valley knowing that the people are in the valley, knowing that our plight is the same plight as the people in the valley, knowing that our enemies are on the mountaintopour friends are in the valley, and even though its nice to be on the mountaintop, were going back to the valley. Because we understand that theres work to be done in the valley, and when we get through with this work in the valley, then we got to go to the mountaintop. Were going to the mountaintop because theres a motherfucker on the mountaintop thats playing King, and hes been bullshitting us. And weve got to go up on the mountain top not for the purpose of living his life style and living like he lives. Weve got to go up on the mountain top to make this motherfucker understand, goddamnit, that we are coming from the valley!
(SPEECH DELIVERED AT OLIVET CHURCH, 1969)