Moses Moon Civil Rights Recordings 1963-1964: Selma, AL; September/October, 1963(OTN52)

Web Video Text Tracks Format (WebVTT)


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Ladies and Gentlemen. Were you there when they crucified my lord. Alright come on now.

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All the brothers come here now.

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[choir sings] Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

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[everyone joins] Were you there when they crucified My Lord? Were you there when they crucified My Lord? Well, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. Were you there, when they crucified my Lord?

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Were you there when they killed him in the [[side?]]? Were you there when they when they pierced him in the [[side?]]? Well sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble

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[[choir singing]] Were you there when they pierced him in the side?

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Were you there when they nailed him to the cross?

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Were you there when they nailed him to the cross?

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ohhhh ohhhh ohhhhh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble

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were you there when they nailed him to the cross?

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[[amen, amen]]

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Betty Mae Fikes: I'd like to say very much, and introducing this man, he spoke to us last night, we have all been waiting to hear from him, let his words be his introduction. Mr. Dick Bregman.

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Dick Gregory: I'd like to say thank you very much, and again good evening

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Dick Gregory: I guess that's about the first time in my life I ever requested a church song

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cause I usually listen to all of them

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some I like and understand and some I don't like

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but I asked for them to sing that song

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cause as I sit back there and wondered

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had we been living in that day in error

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of the Crucifixion of Christ

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when it was taking place when it was going on

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had we turned and ran the other way

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I wondered how we would have felt 20 years later 30 years later

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knowing that we weren't there and could have been there

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if I could honestly prove beyond a shadow of doubt that I had some kin folks in that same area, in the same location

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and they didn't show up to say no more than "I'm with you baby"

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I would be ashamed of them, and ashamed of my self.

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we going through an era today equally as important.

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So amazing how we come to church every day and cry over the Crucifixion of Christ

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and we don't cry over these things that's going around among us

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when if he was here now, he would cry and take those nails again

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for this problem just so happened that in his day in time religion was the big problem

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today, same situation, only it's a color

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Dick Gregory: What do you think would happen to Christ tonight? If he arrived in this town a black man and tried to vote Monday? What do you think would happen? Would you be there? Then how come you not with his kids because he said "Whatever happens to the least happens to us all," and I wonder one day when this final push is over. When the whole world know that this was the work of god. When they sit back in the 19's and sing were you there. I wonder how many of us have to hang our head in shame, how many of us will have hang our heads in shame? Let's analyze this situation, we not saying lets go downtown and take over city hall. We not saying lets stand up on the rooftops and throw bricks at white folks. We not saying lets get some butcher knives and some guns and make em pay for what they've done to us. We saying we want what you said belongs to us. You have a constitution. Me as a black man going to a black school; you make me sit down and take a test on the United States constitution. You have never made me take a test on this Bible; Mama had to give that to me at home. You have kept me in a segregated school, but you make me take a test on a constitution that haven't worked for no one but you and you expect me to learn it from front to back. Are you gonna flunk me? For I learned it even when I didn't wanna learn it

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Dick Gregory: and I passed it. You made me stand up as a little kid and sing God bless America; America the beautiful, and all those song the white kids were singing. I pledge my allegiance to the flag.

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That's what I'm asking you for today. No negro had anything to do with sitting down and writing the Constitution, so no white man can say we tricked him. He wrote that himself, and he told the whole world about it.

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He said it was fair, he said it was just, and he can send your son to war to die for it.

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And when you tell me a white man with his corrupt beliefs can come and get your boy and send him to Korea, send him to Germany, to die for something you're not going to be a part of, and a man can get your daughter, can get your son, can get you, to go to jail.

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It's unbelievable that his system has warped our minds this much. It's unbelievable you would let your son go and fight in a foreign country for a neighborhood he can't even live in.

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But you won't let your kids march, demonstrate, and you won't demonstrate for whats yours. This I can't understand. That's why I am here.

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That's what really made me make up my mind. If America went to war in the morning I am going, because as corrupt as the system is, I dig it. But I'm going. And then I had to stop and think--

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Dick Gregory: if I can subject myself to going to some foreign land and take a chance of being away from my wife, my family, my loved ones, and take a chance on losing my life,

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to guarantee some foreigner that's living some place I can't even spell a better way of life than I can my own brothers and sisters, then there must be something wrong with me.

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That's when I made my decision to come into the South. Knowing that when I stepped off the plane I could be killed. Knowing that getting involved might mean I wouldn't eat. Knowing that I might go to jail.

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But I'll tell you what, I think jail is the best place. Jail is the best place. When a man can take a policeman, that is supposed to be upholding the law, and use them against you, then I think jail is the best place.

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We talked about bandits and villains all over the world. We know of none on record that have blown up a church.

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Do you realize the incident that happened in Birmingham, the incident that has happened in many places in the South, if that same incident would have happened

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in North Korea, in West Berlin, or South Vietnam, America would have been at war.

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And are you ready for this? You would have been upset. Had you read about the Communists blowing up a church, you would have been upset. This when you're scared to even talk about it around white folks.

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This you're scared to even talk about around white folks. They had to tell you that Monday how sorry they was.

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And I daren't say how many of you made like you didn't even know what had happened.
[SILENCE] This is the problem we have, this is the problem we're faced with.

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It's in our hands now. You are the soldier whether you wanted to be the soldier or not.

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For some reason you kept saying turn the other cheek, you kept praying to God every time something happened to you, and for some reason or another he believed you.

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And as he looked down, out of all the peoples in the world, he had to probably nudge his daddy and say I've been checking up on them for a hundred years and they're the ones.

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How do you know? Well look at what they've been going through, let's look at the books. Look at the lynchings, they haven't fought back. Look the shootings, they haven't fought back.

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Look at the bad things, Papa, they've gone through. Yeah son, it kinda makes me, reminds me of your story.

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In 1963, he probably nodded his head and gave you the ball. And the best thing for us to do is to get ourselves together and either take it or give it back to him.

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Take it or give it back to him. I can't believe a parent would worry about a kid being in jail overnight, and then again I can believe I guess.

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But how can you worry about a kid being in jail overnight, and can live with him under the system you have to bring him up in. I can understand a white man worrying about his kid being in jail

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Dick Gregory: -because he's missing something, missing something.

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for fifty years, they've been telling us about a Negro crime rate,

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telling us we do all the crime

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Never came to your house once, and said, "Ms. So-and-so, would you talk to your kids, and keep 'em out of jail?" No, they want-

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they want to talk to you in the middle of the night.

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because there's something that happens to a white man, when he have to look at a black man, in jail, for right.

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There's something that happens to a man's conscience, when he have to look at your kids, in jail, at night.

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But nothing seems to happen to this man, when he looks at the horrible things that have happened to your kids in growing up, because it happens so subtle and we have accepted it so nicely, he really can't see it.

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And the bad part about it is we really can't see it. When is the last time you felt your ears growing? But they growed. When is the last time you could feel your little feet growing into big feet? But they growed. When is the last time you felt your hair growing? But it grows.

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And as these things happen to us, this problem slips up on us. Slips up on us in a way you can't tell, or in a way you don't want to tell, because every man knows when he needs a haircut, every man knows when his feets' too big.

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But in a hundred year period, we seem not to know what this problem is doing to us, because we've accepted it.

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Dick Gregory: Did we accept it because we wanted to do something about it, or did we accept it because we felt this is all we can do? We have everything to work with.

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It's a difficult thing when a man says make me some biscuits mama, and he didn't bring nothing home for you to make biscuits with.

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It's a heck of a thing, when he has every thing there and the biscuits aren't done, maybe he'll look elsewhere or maybe he'll give up completely.

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There's a funny thing that happened in 1963, and the sooner we wake up and realize it, the better off this whole world is going to be.

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Because for some reason God has put in your hands, the salvation of not just America, this thing is bigger than this, the whole world.

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And if you don't believe it, check the papers, check the records. [[inaudible]] and Kennedy never sit down and made a deal, for you people in the South to start rising up.

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The monks in Vietnam never start striking back for religious freedom, until we had the agreement of Birmingham.

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Peoples looking at you all over the world because they come over here, they see the situation and they gave you up.

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Gave you up and they couldn't understand it. Negro in America has the highest standard of living, the highest educational standard, highest medical care of any black man world over and most white.

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And we got backward countries

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-Let's get more respect from this white man than you could ever command,

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Because we've grinned when he want us to grin, we've cried when he's want us to cry,

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We've spent money when he want us to spend money,

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And we've done without, when he said do without.

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He owns all the missiles in the whole world,

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and then he talks about you ownin' a switchblade, and you get ashamed at it.

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He started all the wars, and he talks about you cutting somebody.

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He don't give us anything else to do. He don't occupy my time.

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He makes me feel small.

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He calls me everything on the job but my name, so I'm aggravated before I get home.

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Then he tells me about my education, he tells me about my education,

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well if it took education his style to produce a clown that would throw some dynamite in a church, I hope we never get that.

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If it took education to produce an American white man that would neatly lay forty sticks of dynamite in his mother's luggage, and blow a jet plane out the sky for some insurance money, I hope we never get that.

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The greatest education in the world, he can get from us if he only look back.

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We could teach him the most important thing in the world today-

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Dick Gregory: ...teach him how to live, teach him how to live,

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I have a paper and I wish I would have brought it with me tonight,

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I have a paper I keep with me because it embarrasses me so many times, so many times,

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I have a paper from 1848, The New Orleans morning paper.1848

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and if you turn to that back of that paper, you'll see what white folks was running ads,

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offering rewards to get their run away slaves back.

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Can you believe that? [[background murmurs]]

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Not can you believe that a white man would run an ad to get his slaves back but can you believe in 1848

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we were running away, rebelling, and didn't have no place to run to. [[people agreeing in background]]

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1848, slaves were running away.

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Can you imagine what this old negro had to go through? Can you just literally imagine a parent,

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a negro woman coming to a black man, saying honey I'm pregnant, and the both of them fall on their knees and hope the baby is born deformed?

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Hope the baby is born crippled or born with one leg? Can you imagine this is what a negro had to go through? [[background yeah]]

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because if they was born that way, he would have less chance of being a slave and more chance of having freedom. [[background affirmations]]

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Think about it.

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Dick Gregory: Think about the woman you love come and tell you she's pregnant with your baby

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and you cross your fingers and hope that baby is born crippled. [[Yeah]]

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Because you know if he's born healthy and strong,

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can you imagine what it must have felt like to get on your knees and pray to your god and ask him please let it be crippled.

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Here's what the slaves went through.

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Man would pray that his own son would have one arm so maybe he can get some freedom.

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And a hundred years from then, we have parents that worry about their kids being in jail over night.

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Many parents that didn't even know where their kids were for the first time, they know where they are 24 hours a day.

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24 hours a day. And there for a good cause and a good reason.

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How can a parent let a son play football when all he can do is help his team win a victory today thats going to be forgot tomorrow,

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but you can't let your son fight for freedom something that the whole world will profit by.

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Sometimes I wonder how much of this system corrupted us.

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Sometimes I wonder when will we be able to see that the day is over now, that we can say we not involved.

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Those four kids that was killed in that church, they were not demonstrating in Birmingham. You don't have to participate---

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I'll be white for our cause, and that bomb was thrown at you.

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somebody's gon' have to get killed, we know this. Fifty percent of the killing is our fault,

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because we let this man get crazy on us, instead of bringing him around when we should have brought him around, we scratched our head for five years too long for him.

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Tommin' was good once upon a time! That's how we got here.

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The old folks knew that the only way they could raise you,

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what we call Uncle Tomism today was nothing but finesse and tact.

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The old folks had to scratch their head, and grin their way into a man's heart that wouldn't accept 'em any other way,

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but I bet if they could peep out the grave and see us Steal Tommin', they'd be ashamed they even invented it.

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All they had were Tom then, that was before they had federal aid; relief. [[?]] Sellin' milk bottles, and they had to talk. But they knew how to talk.

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They were chucklin' and jiving, and they helped the whole situation, because they laughed their way into a man's heart that wouldn't accept them no other way!

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And what did the old folks do by Tommin'? They learned him, frontwards and backwards, and they taught him to us.

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That's why every Negro in America can think like a white man, but few white men can think like a Negro.

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They gon' start Tommin' now.

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At what part do we s-

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At what point. A negro is better off going to a foreign country and fighting for America than he is coming to the south fighting for the negros cause because when you go to a foreign country you have all of america behind you, white and black.

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When you come here you have a few.

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[SILENCE] A few.

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I could've stepped out of show business joined a peace corp, then sent the south Vietnam and every negro in america never would've questioned my intentions.

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To join the army and fight for the black man, even negros walk up and ask "Are you doing it for publicity?". Is a young man here, probably one of the most underrated fighters in the country. He is one of the most brilliant comedy writers the world has produced, his salary per year is equal to that of President Kennedy. He don't have to be here. He don't have to be here at all.

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There's a man who went into the south with me when I went into Greenwood, Mississippi, and he found the same thing I found. He's been with me ever since, and last week when I was called and asked could I come into town, I was so sick, couldn't.

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Cause I even had my wife. She'd never been in the south without me, never been in jail without me. But she had 2 kids, and she feels the same way I feel. Now just gon' be dead in my grave.

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Dick Gregory: -grow up under the same system I had to grow up under,

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And I was fortunate enough to break through my hand, but at the expense of how many other Negroes, had to fall by the wayside?

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That one would be able to break through,

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I would rather die trying to set my people free, than be alive, half free, half enslaved.  

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Here's a man here who flew in town last week, that he, like myself, had never heard of Selma, Alabama,

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that's what you do when that thing is workin', you hear about things and you feel things all over the world that you never heard about before,

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That is the beauty and right,

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That is the beauty and right,

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If 20 negroes took pistols and got in a crap game and killed ten thousand people in this town, I still wouldn't have known what Selma, Alabama is.

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It's the funny thing about right, funny thing.

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Here's a man flew in last week, was gonna get married Saturday, said "James I have no guarantee that you'll be back in time for your wedding."

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He said, "Okay."

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He was here. Thursday it rained, Thursday, rained real hard that Thursday, I wasn't here but I know what goes on in Selma. I said alright we'll pull you outta there and let you get on the bus and go into Montgomery catch a plane, and go on back to Detroit. He says "Well I'll stay." I say "Well we don't know how long it's gon' rain." He got off that mornin' and got-

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Dick Gregory: He gave up a wedding for you, and it might not never been able to happen.
Dick Gregory:

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Dick Gregory:

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Everyday, you're gettin' more and more people to whirl over, that's joining you with your battle, but everyday when you get around these white folks and talk this crooked, filthy, dirty, foul against the movement talk you're killing a potential friend and making a potential enemy that might kill your own kids.
Dick Gregory:

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Dick Gregory:

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Now let me run it down to you real quick, and show you what this man needs. It's nothing new. He knows what's happening is wrong. He wanna believe it's right so I'll wait for uncle Duglow to come to work in the morning and we'll ask him is he happy. We'll ask him bout these n**** outside agitators, I won't tell you, I'll let him tell you. And you tell him too baby. And you tell him. And when you tell him that's all he needs to confirm it, so let's take the same situation, let's go back. You had a guy that hit town that was raising so much h*ll as far as the white folks was concerned, they didn't know what to do with him. Bugged everybody that was Christ, now you tell me they didn't know what he looked like. Do you believe they had to get that punk to kiss him. You mean to tell me a man that didn't hide from nobody and they didn't know what he looked like.

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Dick Gregory: But you'll never believe that. They did the same thing with him they're gon' have to do with you. It's a better [?] readen bumped in off tonight tell me he don't even believe in fighting, now I know big thing to get Christ. [?] big thing to get him
Dick Gregory:

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He knew how they felt, man goin' all over tellin' em' love your enemy. Well man if I'm your enemy and I hear you tellin' em' to love me and I think it's a big thing [?]. oh no big thing. But they had to make it big. And the only way you can make it big, I got to get one of they own, I got to get one of they own. Then them to stand up, come her Judas born, come over here. What's this cat doing you with, oh he's doing wonderful things. You know if Christ came back here today he'd make a lot of people mad did you know that. The man came to America healing people, the doctors would shoot him. They didn't even want you to get no medicare,you know what they'd do if he came by here healing everybody. Not charging no money. He took a loaf of bread and fed everybody the farmers would kill him. He went out there to that river and got some water and made some wine that bussin' gon' be on a bootlegger, man he wouldn't stand a chance today. He wouldn't stand a chance today. All the man had to go through somethings. People that claim they loved him twenty four hours a day he had to keep proving things to them. God we know you, God we know you, but here's a piece of bread do something with it, we gon' watch.

00:36:58.000 --> 00:37:08.000
Dick Gregory:

00:37:08.000 --> 00:37:13.820
And say yeah that's alright man, that's really really something that I threw a fish up just to be dirty. What you gon' do with that.

00:37:18.000 --> 00:37:31.000
Dick Gregory: Oh they knew what he looked like, but they had to confirm the conviction. So they brought Judas in and said "Look here boy, this guy you with he's pretty nice, pretty nice guy huh."
Dick Gregory:

00:37:31.000 --> 00:37:34.000
"Yes sir he's alright, he's really tying some wonders."
Dick Gregory:

00:37:34.000 --> 00:37:38.000
He said "Look I got a crooked finger here can you straighten it out?"
Dick Gregory:

00:37:38.000 --> 00:37:42.000
"Sure, no sir I bet Peter and Paul could, sure could"
Dick Gregory:

00:37:42.000 --> 00:37:45.000
"Well how come he not teachin' you no tricks."
Dick Gregory:

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It was right there. Sure ain't it. Sure ain't it. You could give a man the biggest piece of pie, another man could come up and show him where he's wrong because you're not letting him cut it.
Dick Gregory:

00:38:01.000 --> 00:38:10.000
[Laughter and applause]
Dick Gregory:

00:38:10.000 --> 00:39:33.000
And he was bored, simple, said "Look here boy you go out there and you see him comin' and you kiss him, you meanin' to tell me Christ and nobody know him or hardly did and robe. The way he stood straight you got to have somebody to spot him out for you, no, but we got to get his own to do it. We got to get his own to confirm it, and the folks won't be too mad at use because we can always say what noise. How would white folks tell you no in this town. How those negros wanna go how come they don't come out. They don't understand it goes a little bit deeper than this, but you have to come out anyway. And then they wanted freedom they send them black kids overseas to die for it, and you can't let em' stay in jail overnight for it then they must not want it. You've got to check yourself one day and find out what do you want. If you want it get over here on this side, if you don't want it go on over there with them. Yeah. Or if my mother would've sold some secrets to the Russian momma would've been a traitor. Ok mom get on over there with them. You still momma, still dig you, but get on over on the other side momma, cause you mess around with gettin' me killed.

00:39:33.000 --> 00:39:34.070

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so this is bout what its balling down to now

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its balling down to it right now

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that you gotta commit

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and you going through the same thing today I guess the folks went through when they crucified the boss

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who else is with him and everybody just stood there

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and prayed solemnly for the first time

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then go back and said I prayed

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didn't see your lips moving sister

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come to your house say the blessing and fold his hands and say the blessing

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but the minute get caught up in one those old webs

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yea kinda stop and mumbling

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boy I wish really

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I wish I could been there when muro[[?]] was feeding the Christians to the lions

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I bet that was a beautiful sight to see

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said they didn't run

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didn't run can you believe that

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they didn't run for what the believed in

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feed me turn the lions on him

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feed me and what happen who won

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Christianity still here [[muros?]] not

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it's hard to destroy the right thing

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but a man can destroy a lot of the right

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because basically all men are right so they have that little element to work with

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when you walk in one of these white churches and you get put out

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a whole lots of people lose sleep over that

00:41:29.000 --> 00:41:37.170
whole lots people lose sleep over that so we have problems

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We have many problems. This is something that has hit us so fast and we've got hung up in it so quick.

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That [[whether?]] you want freedom or not, you got to accept it.

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Whether you want freedom or not you got to accept it. [[clapping]]

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And if your negro kids have to knock you down and force it down your mouth, we gon do that. [[clapping]]

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And you know who taught us that? You did! You gave us caster oil and we didn't even want it, but you knew it was good for us, and you held our mouth and poured it down

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You cooked up some home remedies for us that the man would've put you in jail for giving it to us, but you knew it would help us.

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You made us eat food we didn't even want, but you knew we had to eat some type of food to grow up strong. You held us, you forced us, and you put it down in our mouth.

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The black women in this country have made and produced one of the strongest black men the world has ever seen because you forced things on us.

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If every man would've had forced on him because you black women were the only ones really knowing what was going on in Miss Ann's Kitchen.

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And would come back home. Them folks had baby food twenty years before we had it. Twenty years because baby food was selling a nickel a jar and potatoes were selling eight pounds for four cents and you had a family to feed and not a baby, so you went to the store and bought the potatoes and came home and chewed it up

00:43:35.000 --> 00:43:38.000
and spit it in his food and put it down that baby's mouth!

00:43:38.000 --> 00:43:45.000

00:43:45.000 --> 00:43:50.880
Only God know how we survived all them germs and bacteria, but we survived it!

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I watched momma chew up her orange and spit the juice out and pour it down in us. You held us for right and shoved it down our throat. As they say, what go around come around, so you might as well get with this taste of freedom baby.

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But we gon hold you and shove it down your throat.

00:44:22.000 --> 00:44:28.000

00:44:28.000 --> 00:44:42.000
And you know the frightening thing? The thing that has this white men scared all over the world. All over the world! Have you ever noticed how right this thing must be

00:44:42.000 --> 00:44:54.000
Because right tonight is stepping on the person who walked out, got arrested. When the newspaper release it all over the world. What is it gonna say? Someone that got arrested, right?

00:44:54.000 --> 00:45:09.000
They will never talk about the Negros that didn't get arrested. That funny? If going to jail was wrong they would say we had ten thousand Negros that didn't go.

00:45:09.000 --> 00:45:14.000
Because you that don't go don't even count no more.

00:45:14.000 --> 00:45:20.000

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That a funny thing? You don't even count no more. People walk up and had the right to talk to you cause they'd been to jail.

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And all you got to do in this day and age is get behind the movement and go to jail if you have to, and for the first time in your life somebody invites you up here as they talk to you.

00:45:39.000 --> 00:45:49.000
Isn't that funny? Ain't nobody invite you up here yet though.

00:45:49.000 --> 00:46:00.850
That's the problem we have tonight. Those are the problems you have, and there's one little comment here, you're being watched cause what you

00:46:06.000 --> 00:46:17.000
Dick Gregory: See you people haven't got much help up north. You send all your kids up north and they got sophisticated and don't like to be around snuff dippers? no more.

00:46:17.000 --> 00:46:21.000
Dick Gregory: Don't want to be around nappy head folks no more.

00:46:21.000 --> 00:46:27.000
Dick Gregory: Check 'em out, you don't believe it? Pack a bag and go up there and catch 'em throwing a cocktail party. You in trouble.

00:46:27.000 --> 00:47:36.000
Dick Gregory: They'll introduce you to everybody but their mother. They always say "mama i'll be home to see the very sound they bring you up there,so ya'll got this battle to fight all by yourself. All by yourself down here, but you gon' win it down here, and when you win it down here not until then will we win our wars up there we'll be simple winnin' our wars after you win yours cause up north we think we better than you. I guess you know that, I don't have to tell you that. We think we better than you. Every time a man calls a n**** up north we say he talkin' about weed because we give you credit down here havin' all the big lips, all the kinky hair, all the big jaws, and bustin' all the verbs. Yeah we feel if we could get rid of you southern n****s we'd be alright up there. That's the attitude we have, did you know that. That's the way we feel about you. That's why you all got it made in the shade baby because when you get yours down here we gon' get our ups there for nothing else but spite

00:47:36.000 --> 00:48:14.060
Dick Gregory: and envy. They'll start jumpin' up north till ya'll start jumpin' down here. They don't even know how to vote up there. That guy they put in jail in Chicago for sellin' his vote for a dollar. D*mn for a dollar, sold his vote for a dollar. They don't know what's goin' on up there, all the negros up north may never let the negro man in none of them places never had a negro governor in none of them places. That white man up there is doin' us worse than he doin' you down here because at least he tell you what he doin' to you down here.

00:48:16.000 --> 00:48:21.000

00:48:21.000 --> 00:48:24.000
Dick Gregory: He got us believing up there that we alright with it.

00:48:24.000 --> 00:48:28.000
(someone in the crowd says yeah)

00:48:28.000 --> 00:48:32.000
Dick Gregory: But if you had the right down 20 of the top negro leaders in America today,

00:48:32.000 --> 00:48:35.000
Dick Gregory: 19 of them would be a part of south,

00:48:35.000 --> 00:48:41.000
Dick Gregory: 19 of them would be a part of south.

00:48:41.000 --> 00:48:44.000
Dick Gregory: Cause this is where it is,

00:48:44.000 --> 00:48:47.000
Dick Gregory: this is where it is,

00:48:47.000 --> 00:48:50.000
Dick Gregory: this is where.

00:48:50.000 --> 00:48:53.328
Dick Gregory: God is still with (unintelligible).