The following quotations are from:
Stokely Carmichael, Stokely Speaks, “At Morgan State,” pp. 61-76. Chicago Review Press, Inc., Chicago IL, 1971.
“Mr. Douglass said:
‘Those who profess to favor freedom, yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning; they want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
Power concedes nothing without demands—it never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue till they have resisted with either words or blows or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they suppress.’
Following in Mr. Douglass’s footsteps we intend to strike our first blow for our liberation, and we will let the chips fall where they may. We do not wish to earn the good will of anybody who is oppressing us. They should rather try to earn our good will, since they have been oppressing us.” 63.
“Then we come to the question of definitions. It is very, very important, because people who can define are the masters. Understand that.” 64.
“…[T]he first need of a free people is to be able to define their own terms and have those terms recognized by their oppressors. It is also the first need that all oppressors must suppress. I think it is what Camus talks about. He says that when a slave says no, he begins to exist. You see you define to contain. That’s all you do. If we allow white people to define us by calling us Negroes, which means apathetic, lazy, stupid, and all those other things, then we accept those definitions.
We must define what we are—and then move from our definitions and tell them, Recognize what we say we are!
We all watch cowboy movies all the time. You know, there would be a fight and there would be Indians and they would be coming from the hills and Chief Crazy Horse would have a million Indians and they would be yelling, ‘Wha, wha, wha,’ and they would be killing the good white women. And at last here comes the cavalry. They would come riding in and they would get out their guns and shoot up everybody—men, forward march, forward, shoot. Look out, that one on the right. Boom, we’ve got him, he’s dead. They would come back and they would say, we had a victory today. We killed the Indians.
The next time the Indians would win; they would beat the hell out of the cavalry and the white man would come back and say, Those dirty Indians, they massacred us.
See what they were doing. They were putting connotations in our minds. A massacre is not as good as a victory because in a victory you shoot people and you kill them in an honorable way, but in a massacre you kill with a knife and everybody knows that’s foul.
But the Indians had victories too. That we must begin to recognize. That’s very important.
You ever listen to the news? Every day now, Viet Cong terrorists bomb and kill fifty women and children, what a shame. In the meantime, United States jet bombers have been flying heavily over Hanoi, dropping bombs.
The power to define is the most important power that we have. It is he who is master who can define; that was clear in the McCarthy period. If McCarthy said you were a communist, you had to get up and say, No I am not a communist. Who the hell is McCarthy? I mean who is he? He had the power to define. It is the same thing. ‘My fellow Americans, the communists, the slanted-eye Viet Cong are our enemy. You must go kill them.’ You don’t have the right to define whether or not that cat is your enemy. The master has defined it for you. And when he says ‘jump,’ you say, ‘how high, boss?’ We must begin to define our own terms and certainly our own concept of ourselves and let those who are not capable of following us fall by the wayside.
You must begin to understand the nature of this country called America, which exploits all other, non-white countries. You now what they are talking about—you see that’s the thing with definitions—you know, we are fighting for freedom, democracy, for peace. Nobody questions it. Yes, we are going to kill for freedom, democracy, and peace. These little Chinese, Vietnamese yellow people haven’t got sense enough to know they want their democracy, but we are going to fight for them. We’ll give it to them because Santa Claus is still alive.” 65-67.
[In the colonization of Africa,] “white people brought their concepts. When they left they had the land and we had their religion. And that was civilization for them. Indeed, what is civilization? To be able to drop bombs on Hiroshima? To be able to drop bombs on Hanoi? Is that civilization? Do we want to be civilized too?
…I have to be appalled at the president of the university who stands up and says that Black Power is about violence while at this very campus he encourages institutionalized violence—compulsory ROTC—and does not speak about that. Who does he think he is kidding? There is nothing wrong with violence. It is just who is able to control it. That’s what counts. Everybody knows that. You have institutionalized violence on your campus. You have to dress up in a monkey suit and train how to kill once a week. And what is your response to that as black students, coming to a university where they are supposed to teach you civilization? Is that civilization too? That one must kill?
Is that what you are imitating? Is it for you not to reason why at a university, but to do and die? Do you not have the guts to say: Hell, no. Do you not have the guts to say, I will not allow anyone to make me a hired killer.
When I decide to kill, since it is the greatest crime that man can commit, I alone will make that decision, and I will decide whom to kill.” 69-70.
“…[T]he problem between property rights and human rights in this country—a problem the country is not capable of facing up to. Let one black boy throw one rock at some filthy grocery store and the whole damned National Guard comes into our ghetto. Property rights mean more than human rights and we in the ghetto do not own the property. If we get robbed, you can call the policeman till you turn white. He ain’t coming. You know that as well as I do. But just hit a grocery store, just throw a Molotov cocktail through a window and see how quick they come in. They deplore violence.
It’s all right with them when we cut each other in the street on Friday and Saturday nights. We need nonviolence in the black community, that’s where we need it. We have to learn to love and respect ourselves. That’s where it should begin. That is where it must begin.” 71.
“When the ghettos rebel you are going to be the buffer, and you are the ones who are going to be caught in the middle. The gate is swinging open. Brothers and sisters, you had better come home early this summer. You had better take what knowledge you have and use it to benefit black people in the ghetto.
You had better recognize that individualism is a luxury that black students can no longer afford. You had better begin to see yourself as a people and as a group and therefore, you need to help to advance that group…
Can you not go out and organize those people to take the political power that they have been denied and by which they’ve been oppressed and exploited? Can you not help? Are you too busy trying to be a doctor and lawyer so that you can get a big car and a big house and talk about your house in the suburbs. Am I the only one out there?
Can you begin to say that James Brown is us, that he is a musical genius as much as Bach or Beethoven? Can you understand your culture? Can you make them teach it to you here in college, rather than teach you Back and Beethoven, which is only one-sided? Why can’t you also have James Brown so that you can begin to know what culture is about?” 74-75
“Do you have the guts to stand up now and say I will not follow law and order, I will follow my own conscience. That’s what they sent Eichmann to jail for, you know, because he followed law and order.” 75-76.
“The last statement that I want to leave you with is by John Donne. He said the ‘death of any man diminishes me because I am involved in mankind.’
This generation is not involved in mankind. When we began to crawl, they sent six million people to an oven and we blinked our eyes. When we walked, they sent our uncles to Korea. And we grew up in a cold war. We, this generation, must save the world. We must become involved in mankind. We must not allow them the chance to kill everything and anything that gets in their way. We must not become part of the machine.
I want to read my favorite quotation to conclude.
‘If I am not for myself, who will be? If I am for myself alone, who am I? If not now, when? And if not you, who?’” 76