Fred Hampton

We Have to Protect Our Leaders!

Written: Speech delivered at the Capitol Theater, May 19, 1969
Source: Pamphlet printed by the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party
Transcription/Markup: 2020 by Philip Mooney
Copyright: This work has been made available to the Marxists Internet Archive with the permission of the copyright holders.

Sure, it’s a glorious day. Glad to be around on Malcolm’s birthday. And we ought to be asking ourselves why a lot of other people are not around. And those other people who aren’t around, we ought to be asking ourselves “Why aren’t they around?” There’s a lot of people in this city who have been saying a whole lot of things that haven’t come true. A whole lot of people have been making a whole lot of statements. And I’m gonna talk about these niggers. They need to be talked about. Let me tell you something. We’re here honoring Malcolm. And what was so good about Malcolm is that through criticism, through constructive, revolutionary criticism, Malcom moved most of these lazy—assed niggers that never would have moved if Malcom hadn’t criticized them.

Malcolm said that “I believe in anything that is necessary to correct unjust conditions—political, economical, social, physical, anything that’s necessary. I believe in it as long as it is intelligently directed and designed to get results.” We’ve got to understand that what he was talking about is that anything, no matter how weird it may look, no matter how unusual it may seem… because when Malcolm came through he seemed weird and he also seemed unusual. But even though he seemed weird to you, even though he seemed unusual to you, years later he proved to be your revolutionary leader. And I’m saying now that we understand very well, if you read the latest issue of the Black Panther Party paper, we did a beautiful job about Malcolm X here, because our Minister of Defense who today, in 1969, on May 19, we’re not afraid to say it to nobody, that he’s the baddest motherfucker book that ever stepped out of the pages of a history book!

How do we know that? Because it was Huey P. Newton that came forth and said “We don’t care what happens. We’re drawing the line right here. The pigs will come no further. They’re not going to make us retreat. We’re going to have somewhere, no matter how far we run, no matter how long we run, that when we reach that point, we’re going to be able to stop and say, in the voice that Huey would say it in, “Motherfuckers! What you for, you dig? I got my gun, motherfucker, and you got yours. And if you try to shoot me with your gun, motherfucker, or if you try to take my gun, well then, I intend to blow your motherfuckin’ brains out!”

That’s what it’s about. That’s what it’s got to be about. Huey P. Newton was a man that said that whenever a slave kills a slavemaster, it’s a cleansing process.

Because it was Huey P. Newton who said that the people can only understand basically by observation and participation. What did he do? Well, we done said it so many times, but let me tell you—it’s so beautiful.

There was a situation down on the corner where there were four intersections and people were being run over. And Huey said we’re gonna stop this situation. The people went down to the government and they redressed their grievances peacefully, begged the man to put stop signs up as a humane action, just to stop our children from being murdered in the streets, to stop these maniacs who are driving fast and they don’t have any legal reason to stop. And you know what the pig said?

They said you can go back home because I’m running this thing and you people don’t have any say-so. But Huey P. Newton came through, and he told the people to “give me a chance, because I believe something else. I believe with all my soul and with all my heart and with all my mind that the people should, could and will have the power. Let me go down and let me see if I can put the stop signs up.”

They said, “Well, Huey, we already tried.” But they didn’t understand that Huey was like brother Malcom. That Huey would do things even if it didn’t correspond to what you thought ought to be done. He would say things not because you wanted to hear them or not.

Huey got Bobby Seale and Bobby Seale got a 9m pistol. Huey got his shotgun, he got four stop signs, and got him a hammer, went down to the corner, handed his shotgun to Chairman Bobby Seale and said, “If anybody come on this corner and fuck with us, we’re gonna blow their brains out.”

Huey P. Newton said people learn basically by observation and participation. The people observed. Next time they had another four-way intersection. Same type of problem. People were running past where there should be a stop sign but there wasn’t any; children were being murdered and maimed in the streets. Again Huey went, got Chairman Bobby, Chairman Bobby got his 9mm, Huey got his shotgun, got four stop signs and a hammer. He went down to the corner, told Bobby, “Anybody fuck with us, blow their brains out.” Nailed up the four stop signs. No more accidents, no more problems.

Next time—the people who gassed last time, gassed this time, too. They observed and participated. What happened? They had another intersection, a four-way intersection. Children being murdered. Children being maimed. Huey was gonna move again, but he understood what was gonna happen, but he didn’t know it was gonna happen then. But then he looked up, and even the vanguard was surprised when he saw all the people gettin’ their hammers, gettin’ their stop signs! And the people were down there. No more problem and more accidents. How did they learn? They learned by observation and they learned by participation, and that’s the way the Black Panther Party believes in doing things.

You’ve got to understand very clearly that we have got to grasp onto our leaders and protect our leaders before they’re taken away. You’ve got to learn very well that you’ve got to stop identifying people with being your brothers because they’ve got the same color skin that you have. I’m tellin’ you that a nigger will walk up to you in the alley, stick you up, you say you want your money back, you got a gun, but you ain’t supposed to get your money back, ain’t supposed to be mad, cause “I’m your brother.” What you messin’ with your brother for? Brothers advance to be brothers. And you’ve got to stop getting hung up in a whole race question, because this is a class struggle.

It’s a class struggle whether we want to face it or not. The Black Panther Party hears a lot of people saying “Let’s go ahead and fight fire with fire.” But we say, “No, no, no!” We don’t care how many people say that, because nobody knows really what’s happening. Huey was by himself, but being in this minority doesn’t always make you wrong. We may be in the minority, but this minority is gonna keep on shouting loud and clear, “We’re not gonna fight fire with fire, we’re gonna fight fire with water. We’re not gonna fight racism with racism, we’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We’re not gonna fight capitalism with black capitalism like some of these punks in the city of Chicago want to do, we’re gonna fight capitalism with socialism.

Dig, that’s what we gotta do. You’ve got to understand very well that you have a situation in Chicago where all kinds of holidays will come around. You have a situation where every Saturday people get up and they worry about what kind of clothes to wear, and if they can’t get a new pretty dress, then they can’t go. And they come out of the meeting and you say “What was the current text of the sermon today,” or “What did the man rap about,” or “What was the current problem?” And they’ll say “I don’t know—but he had on a beautiful turtleneck.” And I’m tellin’ you that when things get in this state of affairs, you in bad shape.

These niggers—wait a minute—these niggers, out of 5,000 people that’ll be there, maybe 3,000 of them were businessmen. Who are they programming for? You got black Easter, you got black Christmas, you got black Ground Hogs Day, you got black April Fools Day——ain’t geared for nobody but black businessmen. And I say that anybody that comes into our community and sets up any type of situation that does not meet the needs of the masses, then I, Chairman Fred of the Black Panther Party, say that I’ll take that nigger by his turtleneck and beat him to death with a Black Panther Newspaper! And we could kill him with the paper, because that paper has an ideology, and if you don’t read it, you oughta read it.