Between Impression and Expression: Fred Hampton
With some things, you have to learn by either seeing it or participating in it. And you know yourselves that there are people walking around your community today that have all types of degrees that should be at this meeting, but are not here. Right? Because you can have as many degrees as a thermometer; if you don’t have any practice, they can’t walk across the street and chew gum at the same time.
So what do we do? We are out there educating the people. How do we educate them? Basically, the way people learn: by observation and participation. And that’s what we’re trying to do — that’s what we’ve got to do here in this community. And a lot of people don’t understand, but there’s basic things that you’ve got to do any time you intend to have yourself a successful revolution.
A lot of people get the world ‘revolution’ mixed up, and they think ‘revolution’ is a bad word. Revolution is nothing but like having a sore on your body and then you put something on that sore to cure that infection. And I’m telling you that we’re living in an infectious society right now. I’m telling you that we’re living in a sick society. And anybody that endorses integrating into this sick society before it’s cleaned up is a man who’s committing a crime against the people. If you walk past a hospital room and see a sign that says CONTAMINATED, and then you try to lead people into that room, either those people are mighty dumb or you have an unfair, unjust leader that does not have your followers’ interests in mind.
You see, people get involved in a lot of things that’s profitable to them, and we’ve got to make it less profitable. We’ve got to make it less beneficial. I’m saying that any program that’s brought into our community should be analyzed by the people of that community. It should be analyzed to see that it meets the relevant needs of that community.
We got to face some facts — that the masses are poor, that the masses belong to what you call the lower class. And when I talk about the masses, I’m talking about the black masses, and the brown masses, and the yellow masses too. We’ve got the face the fact that some people say you fight fire with fire, but we say you put fire out best with water. We say you don’t fight racism with racism; we’re gonna fight racism with solidarity. We say you don’t fight white capitalism with black capitalism; you fight capitalism with socialism. We ain’t gonna fight no reactionary pigs who run up and down the street by being reactionary; we’re gonna organize and dedicate ourselves to revolutionary political power and teach ourselves the specific needs of resisting the power structure, arm ourselves, and fight reactionary pigs with international proletarian revolution. That’s what it has to be. The people have to have the power; it belongs to the people.
We have to understand very clearly that there’s a man in our community called a capitalist. Sometimes he’s black, and sometimes he’s white. But that man has to be driven out of our community, because anyone who comes into the community to make profit off the people by exploiting them can be defined as a capitalist. And we don’t care how many programs they have or how long a dashiki they have. Because political power does not flow from the sleeve of a dashiki; political power flows from the barrel of a gun!
We want people who want to run on the People’s Party, because the people are gonna run it, whether they like it or not. The people have proved that they can run it. They can call it what they want to. They can talk about it — they can call it communism, and think that’s gonna scare somebody, but it ain’t gonna scare nobody.
We had the same thing happen. They came out to where our Breakfast for Children program is, and started getting those women who were kind of older, around 58 — that’s, you know, I call that older, ’cause I’m still young. I ain’t 20 yet, right? Right! But you see, they’re gonna get them and brainwash them. And you ain’t seen nothin ’til you see one of them beautiful sisters with their hair kinda startin’ to get gray, and they ain’t got many teeth, and they were tearin’ them policemen up! They were tearin’ ’em up! The pigs would come up to them and say “You like communism? You scared of communism?”
And the sisters would say, “Not scared of it, I ain’t never heard of it.”
“You like socialism?”
“Not scared of it, I ain’t never heard of it.”
The pigs, they’d be crackin’ up, because they enjoyed seeing these people frightened of those words. “You like capitalism?”
“Yeah, well, that’s what I live with. I like it.”
“You like the Breakfast for Children program, nigger?”
“Yeah, I like it.”
And the pigs say, “Oh-oh.” The pigs say, “Well, the Breakfast for Children program is a socialistic program. It’s a communistic program.”
And the women said, “Well, I tell you what, boy. I’ve been knowing you since you were knee-high to a grasshopper, nigger. And I don’t know if I like communism and I don’t know if I like socialism. But I know that that Breakfast for Children program feeds my kids, nigger. And if you put your hands on that Breakfast for Children program, I’m gonna come off this can and I’m gonna beat your ass like a motherfucker!”
That’s what they’d be saying. That’s what they’d be saying, and it is a beautiful thing. And that’s what the Breakfast for Children program is. A lot of people think it is charity, but what does it do? It takes the people from one stage to another stage. Any program that’s revolutionary is an advancing program. Revolution is change. Honey, if you just keep on changing, before you know it, in fact, not even knowing what socialism is — you don’t have to know what it is, you’re endorsing it, you’re participating in it, and you’re supporting socialism.
And a lot of people will tell you, well, the people don’t have any theory. They need some theory. They need some theory even if they don’t have any practice. And the Black Panther Party tells you that if a man tells you that, this is the type of man who has you buying candy bars and eating the wrapping and throwing the candy away, who’d have you walking east when you’re supposed to be walking west. It’s true. If you listen to what the pig says, you’d be walkin’ outside when the sun is shining with your umbrella over your head. And when it’s raining, you’ll be goin’ outside leaving your umbrella inside. That’s right. You gotta get it together. I’m saying that’s what they have you doing.