The following text is from a speech delivered by H. Rap Brown. Brown replace Stokely Carmichael as head of the S.N.C.C. in May 1967, and became the organizations most revolutionary member. This speech was delivered just after the Detroit riots of 1967. (From Foner, Philip S.; THE VOICE OF BLACK AMERICA; New York, 1972)
I cannot talk about "The Third World and the Ghetto," for black people who comprise the ghetto are the Third World. You see, we make up the Third World. And we have to understand the revolution, and it is a revolution that America is about to undergo, before we can relate to the Third World internationally.... Black people are saying we're not talking about equality, we're talking about freedom, and we're going to be free by any means necessary. A lot of white people who can be participants of the revolution~participants of the Third World, if they would~ became offended because they saw the doors being closed on liberals. Well, we don't need liberals, we need revolutionaries.
We cannot afford to sit and talk about politics in the form of legality, politics in the form of the '68 elections, that does not address itself to the problems of black people . How can you choose between Johnson and Reagan? Camus raises a very good point. He says, What better way to enslave a man than to give him the vote and call him free? Black people have never been free. We're still experiencing slave revolt; and you have to understand that, if you choose to be a revolutionary. You see, the movement is not merely a black movement, it is a movement of the dispossessed of America. That includes the Puerto Ricans; that includes the Mexican-Americans; that includes the poor whites; that includes any dispossessed man. But we happen to be the vanguard of that movement because we are the most dispossessed.... We are not against all wars. We are against some wars. We are in favor of wars of liberation. There is no justice in this country for black people. Justice is a joke.... You see, the power structure in America, the man, the police force, the governors serve the ruling class in America as does General Westmoreland in Vietnam. The very same thing.
So we are members of the Third World. Now you have to understand the key role of black people. The liberation of oppressed people across the world depends upon the liberation of black people in this country.... It is not only Lyndon Johnson~ he is the most visible~ but it's the ruling class of America that the fight must be fought against. You have to understand that Standard Oil or Chase Manhattan Bank is as much an enemy to oppressed people as is Lyndon Johnson. I have a bit of advice to the left. That advice is: Don't get left. Bccause the revolution is going to go on with or without you. The National Guardian is an invaluable paper to the movement but we don't need sympathetic journalism, we need revolutionary journalism. You have to see yourself as being a part of that revolution. If you can't see yourself in the context of being John Brown then bring me the guns.... So your role is not in the black movement, it is not in the American Indian movement. If you're white your role is in Appalachia, your role is with the poor white people. We cannot talk about coalitions. We talk about alliances and we talk about alliances from the position of power. We will not make the same mistake that was made with the Populist movement.~ Now, if you choose to align with black people it has to be from a position of power.... Another reason that the National Guardian is invaluable is that The New York Times is a weapon against freedom, a weapon against people, and every other journal in America that is published by the top people in America is controlled by the government and is a weapon against people.
So when you look at the black revolution, the black rebellion, when you see a brother in the streets throwing a Molotov cocktail, he's not out there for his health; he's out there for his freedom. Understand that when America raises the question of law and order, it's very easy for Johnson to raise the question of law and order, because he never talks about justice. So the question really becomes whether you choose to be an oppressor or a revolutionary. And if you choose to be an oppressor, then you are my enemy~not because you are white, but because you choose to oppress me. We are not an antiwhite movement. We are antianybody who is antiblack. Johnson says every day, If Vietnam don't come 'round, Vietnam will be burnt down. I say that if America don't come 'round, America should be burned down. It's the same thing. But you have to begin to associate, you have to begin to find your identity in your own movement. I cannot go to Appalachia and talk about developing an alliance with poor whites, because racism is rampant in America. I cannot go to American Indians and talk about organizing American Indians. My role is in the black community. Once these communities are organized then we can talk about alliances and maybe coalitions. But not until then.... You see, the hippies are a lesson. These were people who were supposed to inherit. They are rejecting America. They say we reject your barbarism, we reject your decadence. So black people are saying the same thing. But we don't choose to use drugs. We choose to fight. Though the hippies are rejecting society, they are apolitical in the way they are going about it, and so we cannot feel a strong alliance with the hippie movement....
So we must choose who we are going to align with. That's what we were talking about in Chicago. That's what black people talked about at the black conference in Newark. Another thing about the movement at this point, the black movement, is that the black movement is a leaderless movement. I am not the leader of the black movement. I only speak about the temperament of the black community, and only because I have a forum, because there are people who speak about it much better than I do~people in Detroit for example.... No one person, no black person in America could have stopped Detroit from burning. So, while the movement is now a leaderless movement, it says it needs an ideology. That's the role of black so-called intellectuals. You must develop an ideology for that movement. If not, then we will become oppressors in the end, because we will fight the other dispossessed. So, therefore, the role of revolutionaries is to make revolution.... So when you talk about a third world, you have to understand the role that you play in the third world. You have to understand that you are not to be a missionary. We don't need missionaries, we don't need "images" in the revolution, we need revolutionaries. If you can't give a gun, then give a dollar to somebody who can buy a gun. See, you sit out there and you pretend violence scares you, but you watch TV every night and you can't turn it on for five minutes without seeing somebody shot to death or karate-ed to death. Violence is part of your culture.... There's no doubt about it. You gave us violence and this is the only value that black people can use to their advantage to end oppression....
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