Written: Speech delivered April 27, 1969
Source: Movement Vol. 5. No. 12 The Movement Press January, 1970
Transcription/Markup: 2020 by Philip Mooney
Public Domain: Marxist Internet Archive 2020. This work is completely free.
Footnotes © 1970 by Philip S. Foner (fair use), via The Black Panthers Speak, first published by J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia/New York ―Editor
ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE.
What we are basically going to be talking about today is what the pig is doing to the Panthers all around the country. We are going to have to talk about what we are going to have to do about the repression that they are putting on the Black Panther Party. We are not worried about getting off it—let’s try to deal with it.
We got to talk first of all about the main man. The main man in the Black Panther Party, the main man in the struggle today—in the United States, in Chicago, in Cuba and anywhere else—the main man in the liberation struggle is our Minister of Defense, and yours too, Huey P. Newton. He’s the main man because the head of the imperialist octopus lies right in this country and whoever is dealing with the head of the octopus in this country is the main man. He’s in jail now. We must tell the world that Huey P. Newton was tried by the pigs and they found him guilty. He was tried by the people, who found him not guilty, and we say let him go, let him free, because we find him not guilty. This is our relentless demand. We will not let up one day, we will not give up the struggle to liberate our Minister of Defense, Huey P. Newton and we will continue to exert pressure on the power structure and constantly bombard them with the people’s demand that Huey P. Newton be set free.
It was Huey P. Newton who taught us how the people learn. You learn by participation. When Huey P. Newton started out what did he do? He got a gun and he got Bobby and Bobby got a gun. They had a problem in the community because people was being run over—kids were being run over—at a certain intersection.(1) What did the people do? The people went down to the government to redress their grievances and the government told them to go to hell : “We are not going to put no stoplights down there UNTIL WE SEE FIT.” What did Huey P. Newton do? Did he go out and tell the people about the laws and write letters and try to propagandize ’em all the time? NO! Some of that’s good, but the masses of the people don’t read—that’s what I heard Huey say—they learn through observation and participation. Did he just say this? NO! So what did he do? He got him a shotgun, he got Bobby and he got him a hammer and went down to the corner. He gave Bobby the shotgun and told him if any pig motherfuckers come by blow his mother fuckin brains out. What did he do? He went to the comer and nailed up a stop sign. No more accidents, no more trouble. And then he went back—another situation like that. What’d the people do? They looked at it, they observed; they didn’t get a chance to participate in it. Next time what’d they do? Same kind of problem came up. The PEOPLE got THEIR shotguns, got THEIR nine milimeters, got THEIR hammers. How’d they learn? They learned by observation and participation. They learned one thing. When there is a fire you gather round the fire. Huey got a shotgun and everybody gathered round him and Bobby. They saw what was going on and they had a chance to participate in it. As the vanguard leader he taught the people about the power structure; he led the people down the correct road of revolution. What are we doing?
Our Breakfast for Children program is feeding a lot of children and the people understand our Breakfast for Children program. We sayin’ something like this—we saying that theory’s cool, but theory with no practice ain’t shit. You got to have both of them—the two go together. We have a theory about feeding kids free. What’d we do? We put it into practice. That’s how people learn. A lot of people don’t know how serious the thing is. They think the children we feed ain’t really hungry. I don’t know five year old kids that can act well, but I know that if they not hungry we sure got some actors. We got five year old actors that could take the academy award. Last week they had a whole week dedicated to the hungry in Chicago. Talking ’bout the starvation rate here that went up 15%. Over here where everybody should be eating. Why? Because of capitalism.
What are we doing? The Breakfast for Children program. We are running it in a socialistic manner. People came and took our program, saw it in a socialistic fashion not even knowing it was socialism. People are gonna take our program and tell us to go on to a higher level. They gonna take that program and work it in a socialistic manner. What’d the pig say? He say, “Nigger—you like communism?” “No sir, I’m scared of it.” “You like socialism?” “No Sir, I’m scared of it.” “You like the breakfast for children program?” “Yes sir, I’d die for it”. Pig said, “Nigger, that program is a socialistic program.” “I don’t give a fuck if it’s Communism. You put your hands on that program motherfucker and I’ll blow your motherfucking brains out.“ And he knew it. We been educating him, not by reading matter, but through observation and participation. By letting him come m and work our program. Not theory and theory alone, but theory and practice. The two go together. We not only thought about the Marxist-Leninist theory—we put it into practice. This 1s what the Black Panther Party is about.
Some people talk a lot about communism, but the people can’t understand and progress to the stage of communism right away or because of abstract arguments. They say you got to crawl before you can walk. And the Black Panther Party, as the vanguard party, thought that the Breakfast for Children Program was the best technique of crawling that any vanguard party could follow. And we got a whole lot of folks that’s going to be walking. And then a whole lot of folks that’s gonna be running. And when you got that, what you got? You got a whole lot of PIGS that’s gonna be running. That’s what our program’s about.
The Black Panther Party is about the complete revolution. We not gonna go out there and half do a thing. And you can let the pigs know it. They come here and hide—they so uncomfortable they sitting on a taperecorder, they got their gun in their hair—they got to hide all this shit and they come here and do all this weird action. All they got to do is come up to 2350 West Madison any day of the week and anybody up there’ll let them know, let the motherfucker know: Yes, we subversive. Yes, we subversive with the bullshit we are confronted with today. Just as subversive as anybody can be subversive. And we think them motherfuckers is the criminals. They the ones always hiding. We the ones up in front. We’re out in the open, these motherfuckers should start wearing uniforms. They want to know if the Panthers are goin’ underground—these motherfuckers IS underground. You can’t find ’em. People calls the pigs but nobody knows where they at. They’re out chasing us. They hiding—can’t nobody even see ’em.
When people got a problem they come to the Black Panther Party for help and that’s good. Because, like Mao says, we are supposed to be ridden by the people and Huey says we’re going to be ridden down the path of social revolution and that’s for the people. The people ought to know that the Black Panther Party is one thousand percent for the People. They write a lot of articles, you know, niggers’ll run up to you in a minute—when I say niggers I mean white niggers and black niggers alike—niggers’ll run up to you and talk that shit about, Man, I read in the Tribune today. Well you say, Man, fuck it right there. If you didn’t read it in the BLACK PANTHER paper, in the MOVEMENT—then you ain’t read shit.
We in the Black Panther Party have another brother I want to take some time to rap about. This brother is constantly on our mind. This brother’s name is Michael White—Mickey White. This brother is beautiful. He’s being held now in jail for one hundred thousand dollars bail. Some of you who listen to the radio might have heard about brothers in the state chapter, our field secretary of Defense Captain, brother Nathaniel Junior and Brother Merrill Harvey being laid up on some phoney gun charge. We don’t say the Panthers don’t want guns, but we already got guns and we don’t have to go and try and steal or connive to buy any guns from anybody. What they are trying to do is to squash out the Black Panther Party—they’re trying to squash out the leadership. Trying to squash out Bobby Rush, the Deputy Minister of Defense. Trying to squash out Chaka and Che, the Deputy Minister of Education.
Mickey White was in that bullshit with Nathaniel Junior and Merrill Harvey. Last week when they went to court even the judge in court said, you all gonna get a fair trial whether you deserve it or not. These are the types of actions we are confronted with. Mickey White is in solitary confinement and doesn’t get to come out of his cell for anything at any time. And he might be in that cell for the rest of his life. His bond is $100,000. That’s $10,000 cash.
Mickey White is a proven revolutionary. He’s not nobody we THINK is going to be a revolutionary. He’s not nobody we trying to make a revolutionary. He’s a proven revolutionary. All of you have to understand that Mickey White is a Panther in ideology, he’s a Panther in word and he’s a Panther in deed. He’s a Panther that understands it’s a class struggle—not a race question. You have to understand the pressures the Black Panther Party goes through saying this. You can see the pressures the Black Panther Party goes through by making a coalition with whites.
When the Black Panther Party stood up and said we not going to fight racism with racism US said “NO, we can’t do that because it’s a race question and if you make it a class question then the revolution might come sooner. We in US ain’t prepared for no revolution because we think that power grows from the sleeve of a Dashiki.” They are armed with rhetoric and rhetoric alone. And we found that when you’re armed with rhetoric and rhetoric alone a lot of times you get yourself hurt. Eldridge Cleaver told them, even though you say you fight fire with fire best, we think you fight fire with water. You can do either one, but we choose to fight with water. He said, we’re not going to fight racism with racism, we’re going to fight racism with solidarity. Even though you think you ought to fight capitalism with black capitalism, we’re going to fight capitalism with socialism.
We got a whole lot of people being busted and you don’t even know about all these people. There’s one here you definitely have to know about and that’s our Deputy Minister of Defense—Bobby Rush. Our Deputy Minister Bobby Rush was busted on some bullshit with a gun thing. He’s got three gun charges. He’s been convicted of one with a six month lead. He’s out on appeal now. I know a lot of you people say, well goddamn, you got a Mickey White defense fund, an Eldridge Cleaver defense fund, a Merrill Harvey defense fund, a Nathaniel Junior defense fund, a Huey Newton defense fund, a Fred Hampton, Jule, Che, and Chaka defense fund—and I just can’t keep up with all these defense funds. But since we are the vanguard party we try to do things right, so we got one defense fund so you don’t get mixed up on what name to send it to. We’ll decide who it goes to. You can just send it to Political Defense Fund, 2350 West Madison. If you want to send something to Breakfast for Children, you can send it to 2350 West Madison also, and you can earmark that money to go to the Breakfast for Children program.
We got Mickey on our mind tonight—and everybody knows we got Huey P. Newton on our mind tonight. We got every political prisoner in jail on our mind tonight. Eldridge Cleaver—all of these people either dead, or in exile or in jail. A lot of people under standing this will lose real faith in the vanguard by not understanding what we’re talking about.
A lot of these people will go up to you in a minute and say, “Why all these people being taken, why haven’t they shot it out with some pigs.” Well, what do we say? If you kill a few, you get a little satisfaction. But when you can kill them ALL you get complete satisfaction. That’s why we haven’t moved. We have to organize the people. We have to educate the people. We have to arm the people. We have to teach them about revolutionary political power. And when they understand all that we won’t be killing no few and getting no little satisfaction, we’ll be killing ’em all and getting complete satisfaction.
So what should we do if we’re the vanguard? What is it right to do? Is it right for the leadership of that struggle to go faster than the followers of that struggle can go? NO! We’re not going to be dealing in commandism, we’re not going to be dealing in no tailism. We say that just as fast as the people can possibly go, that’s just as fast as we can take it.
While we take it we must be sure that we are not missing the people in the valley. In the valley we know that we can learn to understand the life of the people. We know that with all the bullshit out there, you can come to consider yourself on the mountain top. I may even consider myself one day on the mountaintop. I may have already. But I know that in the valley there are people like Benny and there are people like me, people like Mickey White and people like Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale. And that below the valley are people like Bobby Hutton, people like Eldridge Cleaver. We know that going into the valley is a dangerous thing. We know that when you go out to the valley you got to make a commitment.
A lot of people think the revolution is bullshit, but it’s not. A lot of us think that when you get in the revolution you can talk your way out of things, but that’s not true. Ask Bobby Hutton, ask Huey Newton, ask Eldridge Cleaver, Mickey White and Dennis Mora. Ask these people whether it’s a game. If you get yourself involved in a revolutionary struggle then you’ve got to be serious. You got to know what you’re doing. You got to already have practiced some type of theory. That’s the reason we ask people to follow the leadership of the vanguard party. Because we all theorizing and we all practicing. We make mistakes, but we’re always correcting them and we’re always getting better.
We used to run around yellin ’bout Panther Power—the Panthers run it. We admit we made mistakes. Our ten point program is in the midst of being changed right now, because we used the word “white” when we should have used the word “capitalist”. We’re the first to admit our mistakes. We no longer say Panther Power because we don’t believe the Panthers should have all the power. We are not for the dictatorship of the Panthers. We are not for the dictatorship of Black people. We are for the dictatorship of the people.
The difference between the people and the vanguard is very important. You got to understand that the people follow the vanguard. You got to understand that the Black Panther Party IS the vanguard. If you are about going to the people you got to understand that the vanguard leads the people. After the social revolution, the vanguard party, through our educational programs—and that program is overwhelming—the people are educated to the point that they can run things themselves. That’s what you call educating the people, organizing the people, arming the people and bringing them revolutionary political power. That means people’s power. That means the people’s revolution. And if you’re not about being involved in a people’s revolution then you got to do something. You got to support the people’s revolution.
The Black Panther Party is the vanguard party. You better get on the Black Panther Party. If you can’t get on, goddamit you better get behind. If you can’t get behind goddamit, you better get behind somebody else so you’ll at least be able to follow indirectly, motherfucker. We ain’t asking you to go out and ask no pig to leave us alone. We know that the pigs fuck with us cause they know we’re doing something.
Cause a lot of dudes walk around and write articles about it. I know some revolutionary groups say these niggers are runnin around saying these things—the PL(2) motherfuckers talking that bullshit, couldn’t even find things to criticize. They was so far in the ground. What was they doing? Organizing groundhogs, educating groundhogs, arming groundhogs and teaching groundhogs revolutionary political power.
I say that we’re the first group to come above ground where the people can follow you and see you. And if you make a mistake it’s better than not even being at all. When I made that mistake I made it for the people, and I correct it for the people. You don’t hear there was a raid on PL’s office last night. You ain’t never heard that. When you hear of PL busted in New York, PL’s leader in jail with no bars, PL leader run out of the country, PL leader shot 18 times while he was running with his back turned and hands tied up, PL leader gets breakfast for children for 1800 people a week. You ever hear it? Ya never heard it. I want to hear it. If you do hear it, it’ll be because of the Black Panther lead. I’m not putting all these things out and saying PL doesn’t know ’em. But I’m saying that when people write something like this, a lot of people don’t understand it. And I wanted to take the time to explain it.
There are some things that PL says that are valid. Don’t misunderstand me. We don’t get mad because in some way or another PL is trying to better the Black Panther Party by trying to criticize it. But I just want to let you know, ain’t nothing all right and ain’t nothing all wrong. We’re not all right—though we trying to get that way. We make mistakes but we understand that we gonna make some more mistakes. And we gonna try and correct these mistakes and we gonna try and keep on moving.
So what do we say? Don’t get the pigs offa us cause we can stand em. We jail Mickey White, we should let em murder Bobby Hutton, we should let em run Eldridge Cleaver out of the country. Why? Because you can jail a revolutionary, but you can’t jail the revolution. You can run a freedom fighter around the country but you can’t run freedom fighting around the country. You can murder a liberator, but you can’t murder liberation.
Kill a few and get a little satisfaction. Kill some more and you get some more satisfaction. Kill ’em all and you get complete satisfaction. We say All Power to the People—Black Power to Black People and Brown Power to Brown People, Red Power to Red People and Yellow Power to Yellow People. We say White Power to White People EVEN. And we say Panther Power to the vanguard Party and we say don’t kill a few and don’t kill some more. As a matter of fact we rather you didn’t move until you see we ready to move, and when you see we ready to move you know we not dealing with a few, we not dealing with some more. You know that when we get ready to move we dealing from complete—that’s what we’re after—total, everything, everybody—complete satisfaction.
POWER TO THE PEOPLE
1. For a full discussion of this incident, see Bobby Seale, Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton, New York, 1970, pp. 99–105.
2. PL refers to Progressive Labor, a group of radicals who split off from the Communist Party.