Thursday, June 15, 2006

Stokely Carmichael Speaks on Black Power in Detroit, July 30, 1966

Editor's Note: The following are excerpts from a speech delivered by Kwame Ture, formerly known as Stokely Carmichael, on July 30, 1966 in Detroit, Michigan. In late July of 1966, Stokely Carmichael, who two months before was elected as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and one month before introducing the concept of Black Power to the national media in the United States during the Memphis, Tennessee to Jackson, Mississippi "March Against Fear", visited Detroit. He had gained national recognition as a result of his efforts during the "March Against Fear." The march occured in response to the wounding of James Meredith, who had set out to complete the walk on June 5, 1966 in Memphis. During Carmichael's July 1966 visit, he spoke at a series of rallies with candidates for local political offices. On the evening of July 30, he addressed an audience of mostly Africans at the Cobo auditorium in downtown.

This speech was broadcast over the radio station WKNR on August 7, 1966. The excerpts are taken from a tape recording of that broadcast. Unfortunately, the address was edited for the usual 30 minutes time slot for the former program known as "Project Detroit." We have been unable to obtain the original tape recording of the entire speech. The material that has been cut out is acknowledged through the spots known as ellipses (...).

Text: Carmichael-Ture: I'm going to try to speak the truth. That's very hard to do in this country, you know. A country which was founded on racism and lies. It's very hard to speak the truth. But we're going to try to do that tongight.

Now, these guys--those guys over there. They're called the press. I got up one morning and read a story. They were speaking about a cat named Stokely Carmichael. I say he must be a ba-a-a-d nigger [laughter]. For he's raising a whole lot of sand. I had to get up and look in the mirror and make sure it was me [laughter]. Because all I said is that I'm, just a poor old black boy, and I think it's time black people stop begging and take what belongs to them [shouts and applause]. And takes what belongs to them [continued applause].

And I said that because I learned that from America. They take what
belongs to them. And what don't belong to them, if they can't get it,
they destroy it [applause]. So I am not even trying to destroy what don't belong to us. I'm just saying, we going to take it come hell or high water. We going to take what belongs to us. Because it's been taken away from us....[applause].

I'm very concerned, because you see we have a lot of Negro leaders, and I want to make it clear that I'm no leader. I represent the Student
Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). That's the sole source of my power, and that's Black Power. I'm no Negro leader, but I think that we have to speak out about the war in Vietnam. We've got to talk to black people about the war in Vietnam. This country has reduced us, black people, to such a state that the only way our black youths can have a decent life is to become a hired killer in the army [applause]. Don't you know that? I'm going to speak the truth tonight. That when a man can get up to say, "Well the best chance any Negro can have of course is to go into the Armed Forces and, therefore, that's why there's so many of them." Do you mean to tell me for me to have a decent life I've got to become a hired killer and fight it out in Vietnam? Baby, it's time we stayed here and fight it out here [shouts and applause]. That's where we going to fight it out; that's where we going to stay [continuing applause].

You take a man, and you send him to Vietnam, a black man; and he's
fighting to give free elections to North Vietnam, that's what they tell
us, it's a lie, but that's what they tell us. And that same black man
who's fighting to give free elections to a North Vietnamese can't even
have free elections in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia,
Tennessee, Arkansas, and Washington, D.C. [applause]. That man is nothing but a black mercenary. A mercenary is a hired killer, and Western civilization knows a lot about mercenaries--they invented them. They used them in the Congo not too long ago. They using them now in Vietnam. You send a black man to Vietnam to fight for rights, and he doesn't have any rights in his homeland, he's a black mercenary. You send a black man to Vietnam, and he gets shot and killed fighting for his country; and you bring him home, and they won't bury him in his land--he's a black mercenary [applause]. And if we going to be black mercenaries, then they ought to pay us twenty-five thousand dollars a year and let us come home every weekend [laughter and applause]. Since they not going to do that, we going to have to develop in our communities enough internal strength to tell everyone in this country that we're not going to your damn war period [shouts and applause].

We have to start looking to Africa, brothers and sisters. We've got to
tell our African brothers that we talking about Black Power for them, too. Black Power so they can get up and take arms and shoot the hell out of the white folk in South Africa. That what we've got to tell them [shouts and applause]. That what we've got to tell them [shouts and applause]. Because we going to move to tell them that once they control South Africa, then Standard Oil's going to be reduced to our position, they going to be begging, too. We've got to tell them to get rid of Chase Manhattan Bank in South Africa. We've got to tell them it's time they told the missionaries to take their bibles and go back to Europe and preach the white man's burden there where it belongs [applause]. That's what we've got to tell them [continued applause]. That's what we've got to tell them.

Rudyard Kipling made a mistake. The white man's burden should have been preached in England. He should have left us alone. They came with the Bibles, and we had the land; they left with the land, and we got the Bibles [applause]. Yes, we've go to tell the brothers in South Africa that all that gold and diamonds and oil is theirs, and they've got to get some Black Power and control it. That's what they've got to do. And we've got to tell the black brothers in Africa that we stand one hundred per cent behind Mr. Nkrumah; he's our man, he's our man [applause]. We've got to tell them [continued applause]. We've got to tell them.

But you've got to open your eyes and understand what's going on in this world. And we've got to tell your African brothers that we were hep to the World Court. We knew the United States was giving a racist country like Australia two votes so they would make believe they were voting on their side; we going to tell them we hep. We know what's happening. Brother, it's 1966 and we been here for years and our eyes are open wide. And we seeing you clear through, and you're nothing but a racist country, and you've built and live upon the sweat and blood of our black skins and we're standing up today, we're standing up [applause]. We're standing up [continued applause].

No I'm no Negro leader, so I don't ever apologize for any black person. And don't you ever apologize for any black person who throws a Molotov cocktail [shouts and applause]. Don't you ever apologize [continued applaluse]. And don't you ever call those things riots, because they are rebellions, that's what they are [applause]. That's what they are [continued applause]. And the truth of the matter is that they're not organized because if they were we'd get a hell of a lot more besides sprinklers on hydrants [shouts and applause].....

It's all right, it's all right for you to hate your brother and cut him up
on Friday night and Saturday night; but don't even hate them if they're
exploiting you, that's no good. They think they're masters of the world;
they think they God. And we've go to tell them, "Baby, you ain't God,
we've just let you play for a couple of hundred years [shouts and

And now it's time out for play. We've got to bring them to their knees.
We've got to build a power base that will be our protection. That if they touch one black man in California while he's taking his wife to the hospital, if they touch one black man in Mississippi while he's walking down the highway, if they touch a group of black people riding their horses their day off in Detroit, that we will move to disrupt this whole damned country [applause].

And we had better understand that we going to have to go it alone. And don't be ashamed of that brothers and sisters, because we're very Christian. They taught us about David and Goliath [shouts and
applause]... .

When I talk about Black Power, it is presumptuous for any white man to talk about it, because I'm talking to black people {applause]....*


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