We are, as a group of people in this nation, several things. We are poor; we are unemployed and underemployed. We are poorly educated. We are powerless. And we are black.
We are all of the other things because of the last two, because of our powerlessness and our color.
We have heard over the past few years a great many calls for us to unite around those two factors, and most of use have refused to do so.
We have believed, like most Americans, that power is evil and corrupting, and we have believed, like most Americans, that associations based on race are evil also.
So instead, we have turned toward discussino, toward holding conferences. And after that is completed, it appears that we have not yet learned the lesson, the lesson of history,
the lesson that ought to suggest one way to solve the problem we find ourselves in.
The reason is partly, I believe, because we didn't do our reading well enough, or didn't absorb what we read. For it we had, we would have read the following:
From Che Guevera: "the streets of Harlem are not the mountains of the Sierra Mastre."
From Franz Fanon: "there is no native who does not dream at least once a day of settling himself up in the settler's place."
From Stokeley Carmichael: "Violent warfare may be unavoidable...but if there is the slightest chance to avoid it, the politics of black power...is seen as the only viable hope."
And from Rap Brown: "there are a lot of people with natural hair and processed minds."
This suggests, to me at least, that revolution is not
imminent. It suggests that those who believe that it is are as wrong as was the CIA when they predicted the Cuban masses would rise up to drive Castro from Cuba.
It suggests to me that lacking the immediate prospects for revolution, immediate attention ought to be directed to the problems that all of us know run epidemic through the black and poor communities.
It suggests to me that a lot of us would rather read than act, would rather natualize our hair than our minds, and would rather applaud speakers than speak or act themselves.
There were political campaigns occuring in the two Carolinas that ought to have caught the imagination and activity of young blacks as the campaigns of Eugene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy caught the imagination of young whites.
In one of these, a black dentist was defeated in a race for the governor's seat in North Carolina...if there is anyone here who thinks it makes no difference what sort of governor you have, let him come to Georgia with me and I will show him a difference.
There was in Charleston, South Carolina, a young black lawyer running against representative Mendle Rivers for a seat in the United States House of Representatives.
If there is anyone here who thinks it makes no difference whether or not Mendle Rivers sits in Congress or not, then let him consider who the biggest racists in Congress are: Mendle Rivers' name is near the top. It those issues are not important, and the men who manipulate them are not important, then nothing is important.
Charles Evers rans for a congressional seat in Mississippi
and black people there, militant and conservative, came together to help his campaign. But none came from outside the state, there was no outpouring of students to campaign or cash to pay the bills.
In the Indiana campaign, McCarthy and Kennedy had thousands of young people working for them because those young people believe it makes a difference.
There will be campaigns in Brooklyn for Congress where a black man will win...in St. Louis for Congress where a black man will win...in Cleveland for Congress where a black man will win.... which of you will leave school to help?
In 1964, young black and white students gathered in Mississippi by the thousands. Where are you now?
In 1962, there was a group called The Northern Student Movement, which put thousands of youngsters into tutorial programs, began grass roots organizing programs in the ghettos of the big