Knowledge Session: Fred Hampton “Power Anywhere Where There’s People” (Speech)

fredhampton iahh

Power any­where where there’s people. Power any­where where there’s 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 that’s not true. And even if they did, it would­n’t 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 don’t have any prac­tice, they you can­’t 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 killed, cars run­ning over them, and so the people went down and redressed their griev­ances to the gov­ern­ment. You’ve done it before. I know you people in the com­munity have. And they came back and the pigs said “No! You can­’t have any.” Oh, they dont usu­ally say you can­’t have it. They’ve got­ten a little hip­per than that now. That’s what those degrees on the ther­mo­met­er will get you. They tell you “Okay, we’ll 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 you’re already crazy.

So they tell you, they say, “Okay nig­gers, what you want?” And they you jump up and you say, “Well, it’s been so long, we don’t know what we want”, and then you walk out of the meet­ing and you’re 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 9mm, that’s 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. That’s not that good, 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 there. We 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 I’ve said, “you’ve just broken a rule. As a mat­ter of fact, even though you have on a uni­form it does­n’t 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 ain’t cool, 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. We’re 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 don’t make too many quick moves, cause we don’t wanna have to hit you.”

And I told him like he always told us, I told him, “Well, I’m here to pro­tect you. Don’t worry about a thing, ‘m here for your bene­fit.” So I sent anoth­er Broth­er to call the pigs. You gotta do that in a cit­izen’s arrest. He called the pigs. Here come the pigs with car­bines and shot­guns, walkin’ out there. They came out there talk­ing about how they’re gonna arrest Chair­man Fred. And I said, “No fool. This is the man you got to arrest. He’s the one that broke the law.” And what did they do? They bugged their eyes, and they could­n’t 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!

So 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 that’s what were try­ing to do. That’s what we got to do here in this com­munity. And a lot of people don’t under­stand, but there’s 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 dumb, you under­stand me, cause if they wer­en’t, they’d 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 become, we’ve got to start mak­ing them account­able for what they do. They’re goin’ around talk­ing about so-and-so’s an Uncle Tom so we’re 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. That’s right. They’re the ones that are most aware. They’re most aware, cause they’re the ones that are gonna open up the cen­ter. They’re gonna tell you where bones come from in Africa that you can­’t even pro­nounce the names. Thats right. They’ll be telling you about Chaka, the lead­er of the Bantu free­dom fight­ers, and Jomo Kenyatta, those dingo-din­gas. They’ll be run­ning all of that down to you. They know about it all. But the point is they do what they’re doing because it is bene­fi­cial and it is prof­it­able for them.

You see, people get involved in a lot of things that’s prof­it­able to them, and we’ve got to make it less prof­it­able. We’ve got to make it less bene­fi­cial. I’m say­ing that any pro­gram that’s 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 don’t need no n*****s com­ing into our com­munity to be hav­ing no com­pany to open busi­ness for the n*****s. There’s too many n*****s in our com­munity that can­’t get crack­ers out of the busi­ness that they’re 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, I’m talk­ing about the white masses, I’m talk­ing about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yel­low masses, too. We’ve 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 don’t fight racism with racism. We’re gonna fight racism with solid­ar­ity. We say you don’t fight cap­it­al­ism with no black cap­it­al­ism; you fight cap­it­al­ism with socialism.

We ain’t gonna fight no reac­tion­ary pigs who run up and down the street being reac­tion­ary; we’re gonna organ­ize and ded­ic­ate ourselves to revolu­tion­ary polit­ic­al power and teach ourselves the spe­cif­ic needs of res­ist­ing the power struc­ture, arm ourselves, and we’re gonna fight reac­tion­ary pigs with INTER­NA­TION­AL PRO­LET­ARI­AN REVOLU­TION. That’s what it has to be. The people have to have the power: it belongs to the people.

We have to under­stand very clearly that there’s a man in our com­munity called a cap­it­al­ist. Some­times he’s black and some­times he’s 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 don’t 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 gun. It flows from the bar­rel of a gun!

A lot of us run­ning around talk­ing about polit­ics don’t 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 it is two things? As a mat­ter of fact, some things if you stretch it so far, it’ll be anoth­er thing. Did you ever cook some­thing so long that it turns into some­thing else? Ain’t that right?

That’s what were talk­ing about with politics.

That polit­ics ain’t noth­ing, but if you stretch it so long that it can­’t 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 don’t under­stand that, you can be a Demo­crat, Repub­lic­an, you can be Inde­pend­ent, you can be any­thing you want to, you ain’t nothing.

We don’t want any of those n*****s and any of these hunkies and nobody else, rad­ic­als or nobody talk­ing about, “I’m on the Inde­pend­ence tick­et.” That means you sell out the repub­lic­ans; Inde­pend­ent means you’re out for graft and you’ll sell out to the highest bid­der. You understand?

We want people who want to run on the People’s 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, they’re gonna run it right here. They can call it what they want to, they can talk about it. They can call it com­mun­ism, and think that that’s gonna scare some­body, but it ain’t 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—that’s, you know, I call that older cause Im young. I aint 20, right, right! But you see, they’re gonna get them and brain­wash them. And you ain’t seen noth­in till you see one of them beau­ti­ful Sis­ters with their hair kinda startin get­ting grey, and they ain’t 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, “No scared of it, I ain’t nev­er heard of it.”

“You like socialism?”

“No scared of it. I ain’t 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, that’s what I live with. I like 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. I’ve been know­ing you since you were knee-high to a grasshop­per, n****r. And I don’t know if I like com­mun­ism and I don’t know if I like social­ism. But I know that that Break­fast For Chil­dren pro­gram feeds my kids, n****r. And if you put your hands on that Break­fast For Chil­dren pro­gram, I’m gonna come off this can and I’m gonna beat your ass like a .…”

That’s what they be say­ing. That’s what they be say­ing, and it is a beau­ti­ful thing. And that’s what the Break­fast For Chil­dren pro­gram is. A lot of people think it is char­ity, but what does it do? It takes the people from a stage to anoth­er stage. Any pro­gram that’s revolu­tion­ary is an advan­cing pro­gram. Revolu­tion is change. Honey, if you just keep on chan­ging, before you know it, in fact, not even know­ing what social­ism is, you dont have to know what it is, they’re endors­ing it, they’re par­ti­cip­at­ing in it, and they’re 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 don’t have any prac­tice. And the Black Pan­ther Party tells you that if a man tells you that he’s the type of man who has you buy­ing candy bars and eat­ing the wrap­ping and throw­ing the candy away, he’d have you walk­ing East when you’re 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 it’s rain­ing youll be goin’ out­side leav­ing your umbrella inside. That’s right. You gotta get it togeth­er. Im say­ing that’s 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. What’s 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 did­n’t even have auto mech­an­ics. I ain’t 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 ain’t got to page 200. I’m 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 don’t 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 degrees as 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 was­n’t that. Then I took apart the altern­at­or and it was­n’t that. I took apart the gen­er­at­or brushes and it was­n’t that. I took apart the gen­er­at­or and it was­n’t that. I took apart the gen­er­at­or and it was­n’t even that. After I took apart all that I finally got to the car­bur­etor and when I got to the car­bur­etor I found that that’s what it was. And I told myself that ‘fool, 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 don’t 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 we’ve 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 they’re not here then it won’t 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 it is dark enough can you see the stars. And we’re not wor­ried about it being dark. He said that the arm of the mor­al uni­verse is long, but it bends 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 we’ve 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 would­n’t have to be hid­in’ when we go to speak places like this. Maybe we would­n’t 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 moun­tain, to our friends are in the val­ley, and even though its nice to be on the moun­tain­top, we’re going back to the val­ley. Because we under­stand that there’s 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. We’re going to the moun­tain­top because there’s a mother­fuck­er on the moun­tain­top that’s play­ing King, and he’s 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. We’ve got to go up on the moun­tain top to make this mother­fuck­er under­stand, god­dam­nit, that we are com­ing from the valley!

The fol­low­ing two tabs change con­tent below.

Rishma Dhaliwal

Edit­or / PR Con­sult­ant at No Bounds
Rishma Dhali­w­al has extens­ive exper­i­ence study­ing and work­ing in the music and media industry. Hav­ing writ­ten a thes­is on how Hip Hop acts as a social move­ment, she has spent years research­ing and con­nect­ing with artists who use the art form as a tool for bring­ing a voice to the voice­less. Cur­rently work­ing in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media know­ledge to I am Hip Hop and oth­er pro­jects by No Bounds.

About Rishma Dhaliwal

Rishma Dhaliwal has extensive experience studying and working in the music and media industry. Having written a thesis on how Hip Hop acts as a social movement, she has spent years researching and connecting with artists who use the art form as a tool for bringing a voice to the voiceless. Currently working in TV, Rishma brings her PR and media knowledge to I am Hip Hop and other projects by No Bounds.

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