H. Rap Brown: The Black Panther Party

Free Huey Rally, February 1968


First of all, I’d like to start out by thanking brother Cleaver, and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. See, unlike America would have us believe, the greatest problem confronting this country today is not pollution and bad breath. [laughter] It’s black people. It’s black people. See, that’s just one of the big lies that America tells you and that you go for ’cause you chumps. You go for it. One of the lies that we tell ourselves is that we’re making progress; but Huey’s chair’s empty. We’re not making progress. We tend to equate progress with concessions. We can no longer make that mistake. You see, when they gave us that Black astronaut, you say we were making progress, but I told you they were going to lose him in space. He didn’t get that far. [applause] They gave you Thurgood Marshall, and you said we were making progress. Thurgood Marshall is a tom of the highest order. Anybody who sits down before, anybody who sits before James O. Eastland–a camel-breath, peckerwood nasty honkey from Mississippi, [applause]. And lets James O. Eastland subject him to the type of questioning that he did, he’s a strange breed of man. You put Adam Clayton Powell in office and you couldn’t keep him; what you think they gonna do with Thurgood Marshall when they get tired of him? They gave you Walter Washington, of Washingtom D.C., and you said we were making progress; that’s not progress. See, it’s no in between: you’re either free or you’re a slave. There’s no such thing as second class citizenship. [applause] That’s like telling me you can be a little bit pregnant. [laughter, applause]

The only politics in this country that’s relevant to black people today is the politics of revolution, none other.


There is no difference between the Democratic and Republican party. The similarities are greater than the difference of those parties. What’s the difference between Lyndon Johnson and Goldwater? None! But a lot of you running around talking about you Democrats, and the Democrats got you in the biggest trick going. They tell you, “It ain’t our fault, it’s the Dixiecrats.” No such thing as a Dixiecrat. The only difference between George Wallace and Lyndon Johnson is one of them’s wife’s got cancer. [uproar, applause] That’s the only difference. [applause] But you go for it! You go for it because you chumps! You go for it! The only thing that’s going to free Huey is gun powder. Black powder. Huey Newton is the only living revolutionary in this country today. He has paid his dues! He paid his dues!

How many white folks you kill today? [uproar] But you revolutionaries? You are revolutionaries! Che Guevara says they only two ways to leave the battlefield: victorious or dead. Huey’s in jail! That’s no victory, that’s a concession. When black people become serious about the revolutionary struggle that they are caught up in, whether they recognize it or not, when they begin to go down and knock off people who are oppressing them, and begin to render these people impotent, that’s when the revolutionary struggle unfolds, not until. [applause]

See, I want to develop upon what Bobby [Seale] was talking about about green power, because green power is a myth. [There’s] no such thing as green power as long as that honky got the power to change the color of money. It’s power that controls this country. To show you America’s wanton use and abuse of power in connection with money. Internationally, America changed the international gold standard from monetary standard from gold to paper gold. Her gold reserve had dwindled from 13.7 billion dollars. France had 12.9, that’s why DeGalle was raising all that hell. DeGalle says, “I got almost as much gold as you! So how you gonna have more votes than me in the monetary system?” United States got slick cause they got power. They changed it to something they got an abundance of paper gold. Paper gold. You see, black folks are chumps. If America were to tell you to bring all the rocks in this country to her, and she’ll give you a million dollars for it, you’d do it! And the next day she’ll telling you, “We using rocks for currency, chump!” [uproar, applause] You’d go for it because you enjoy being lied to. You enjoy being lied to. You find your security in the lies white America tells you. For four hundred years she taught you white nationalism and you lapped it up. You taught it to your children. You had your children thinking that everything black was bad. Black cows don’t give good milk. Black hens don’t lay eggs. Black for funerals, white for weddings. You see, everything black is bad. The only black biblical character you knew was Judas. That’s all. Syrrup of black draught. That’s white nationalism. Santa Claus: a white honkey who slides down a black chimney and comes out white. [uproar, applause] Flesh-colored band-aids: they had a brother who put one on and thought something was wrong with his skin. That’s cause you chumps. You go for it! You enjoy white nationalism! Huntley and Brinkley: black folks got more confidence in Huntley and Brinkley than Catholics got in the Pope. They believe anything. According to Huntley and Brinkley, we through fighting in Vietnam. We through killing the enemy; we shooting trees. But you go for it. That’s what you want to hear. And you say that you revolutionaries. Well, if you are revolutionaries, you must assume the revolutionary posture. Chairman Mao says power comes from the barrel of a gun. [applause]

Yes, politics is war without bloodshed; and war is an extension of those politics. But there is no politics in this country that is relevant to U.S. to black people. Bobby Kennedy sold black people out. He’s not interested in black people. He called for vigilante action this summer. He says that the good citizens should ban with the policemen to put down lawbreakers. You know who law breakers are in this country. Lyndon Johnson, Lyndon Johnson has set the attitude, the atmosphere, rather, for vigilantism in the country, when he came out in his latest speech, I guess you’d call it, and said that one day law-abiding citizens will rise up to put down the law breakers, and one week later the longshoremen went over and beat the peace movement up with hooks. That’s vigilante action. The same thing happened during the Battle of Algiers–the Algerian Revolution, when France passed the proclamation establishing People’s Militias. That’s what this country is doing. That’s why white folks are buying guns: they buying them for you! And understand: class differences will not save you. There is no such thing as a black middle class.

You don’t believe it, go to Detroit.


There’s no such thing as a black middle class. The man does not beat your head because you got a Cadillac or because you got a Ford; he beats you because you’re black! Class structures are a luxury that we cannot afford. They cannot divide us by saying that you’re middle class or you’re lower class. He kills you because you’re black. The concentration camps–they got 37 in the country–and me and [Stokely] Carmichael can’t fill all of them. They got to be taking somebody else. [applause]

You’ve got to stop dividing yourselves. You got to organize. I agree with Bobby [Seale]: we are not outnumbered; we are out-organized. You have to organize on every level. Everybody in the black community must organize, and then we decide whether we will have alliance with other people or not, but not until we are organized. [applause]

In terms of the revolution, I believe that the revolution will be a revolution of dispossessed people in this country: that’s the Mexican American, the Puerto Rican American, the American Indian, and black people. [applause] We happen to be the vanguard of that revolutionary struggle because we are the most dispossessed. An old African leader says about leadership, he says that leadership should never be shared; it should always remain in the hands of the dispossessed people. We will lead the revolution. [applause]

I want to end, because brother Carmichael has a message for you. I’m sure he has a lot to tell you about his revolutionary struggle, about the revolutionary struggle. [uproar] OK, you asked for it, brothers. OK, we going to talk about law and order versus justice in America, then. You see, Lyndon Johnson can always sit up and talk about he can always raise an argument about law and order, because he never talks about justice. But black people fall for that same argument, and they go around talking about law breakers. We did not make the laws in this country. We are neither morally nor legally confined to those laws. Those laws that keep them up, keep us down. We got to begin to understand that. [applause] See, justice is a joke in this country, and it stinks of its hypocricy. Johnson is Hitler’s illegitimate child [applause] and J. Edgar Hoover is his half-sister. And we must conduct our struggle on this level. We are fighting enemies of the the people! America for centuries, for years have blackmail[ed] oppressed people with the threat of nuclear war, and war in general. The natural reaction becomes not to fear war. This is the lesson we learned from Viet Nam. [applause] They tell you your problem is unemployment. Well, I got a program that can employee every black person in this country over night. [uproar, applause] Ain’t nobody in Vietnam unemployed. Think about that we you need a job! [applause]

We talking about revolution because that’s the era that you’re caught in. You’re caught in a revolutionary era. See, black people are responding to a poem that Langston Hughes wrote a long time ago–a poem that was in the form a question that was never answered. The poem was “What Happens to a Dream Deferred?” It says, “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or does it fester like a sore and then run? Or does it sag like a heavy load? Or does it explode?” Detroit answered that. [applause] See, they used to call it Detroit, now they {recording skips]. But America is moving to combat that. She’s saying, this summer, what we can’t buy off, we gonna kill off. That’s why she’s building up her armories. Understand that! This is what the National Guard is all about. This is what the new weapons are all about. You see, the poverty program for the last five years have been buy-off programs. In Harlem, which has been one of the greatest victims of the poverty program, how you act is nothing but an act; that’s all it is. They give the brothers forty-five dollars a week to go to manpower to come to class at manpower training. That forty-five dollars a week goes into drugs; that’s just enough to keep the brother hooked. That’s all–they pay you enough to keep you hooked. The poverty program was not designed to eliminate poverty. It does not speak about the ending [tape skip]. It does not speak about how poverty is embedded in this society. Rather, it talks about the effects of poverty, not the causes. Black people must address itself to the causes of poverty. That’s oppression in this country.

So black people all across this country are uniting. They must unite, and they must organize themselves. Everybody has a responsibility in that community: women, men, children–take ’em out [of] the Boy Scouts and get you a black guard. [applause] You must begin to take over your institutions, your schools, because that’s where the young minds are. The last time I was out here was for the Watts picnic. See, I don’t believe that Watts burned down so that they can have a picnic every year. But what they did during that time was that they [tape skip]picnics on weekend notice they gather up seven thousand kids and took them off to a military camp. That’s a dangerous thing. Next year they say they hope to take a million. What if they took a million and they didn’t come back? Who going get ’em, chump? [applause] You must address yourself to these problems. These are the problems you live with daily. They don’t want your old hard heads; they want the young minds. You see, ours might be to do or die, but for the little brothers, theirs should be but to reason why. [applause]

So now, I really am going to end. [protests] Wait! And in ending, I’m going to end in the Swahili saying, it says [in Swahili], which means “We shall conquer without a doubt.” Black Power! [applause]