[Ppnews] Fred Hampton - History is a Weapon
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Mon Dec 4 16:24:58 EST 2006
Today marks the 37th anniversary of the murder of Fred Hampton and
Mark Clark - December 4, 1969 in Chicago.
"You can kill a revolutionary, but you can't kill the revolution" is
a phrase made famous by Fred Hampton, who was
<http://www.afro.com/Panthers/Hampton/killed.html>killed at 20 by the
and the Chicago Police Department in 1969. Hampton, who was a high
school leader and NAACP activist in suburban Maywood, Ill., quickly
assumed the state leadership of the Panthers when he joined in 1968.
Hampton and fellow Panther Mark Clark were murdered in an
early-morning raid of Panther headquarters. An FBI informant, William
O'Neal, provided the Bureau with information on the headquarters'
floor plan. http://www.afro.com/Panthers/Hampton/Hampton.html
Power Anywhere Where There's People
A Speech By Fred Hampton
POWER ANYWHERE WHERE THERES PEOPLE!
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 do'nt
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
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!
(SPEECH DELIVERED AT OLIVET CHURCH, 1969)
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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