Viewing page 11 of 158

[[image - photograph of people at a demonstration]]

The costly riots of the past summer were the acts of bitterness and frustration.  They were not the acts of men who could have either a self-image of worth or a sense of belonging.  These requirements for emotional health have been stripped from and/or denied many black people.  Surely neither you nor I would engage in any such ill-conceived and often irrational destruction.

Yet, prior to that mild catastrophe of this past summer, America surely did not make significant efforts in beginning to alter its past course of needless, costly derogation and denial.  So, in a real sense, we all owe a great deal to those who, as a consequence of frustration, gave their lives in a way that we might begin to see the need to live in a new and more equitable relationship of personhood and power.

However, no group can ever move into a new relationship of power without being willing to fight for it.  And, when that new relationship is to shed the tyranny of centuries of psychological violence in the form of human degradation, debasement and denigration, it would seem to be a cause so vital that life, itself, were not too much to put at stake.  There are many throughout history who have felt tat life without dignity is no life.

Black men and black women are the only people in America, who, as a whole, have traditionally shunned violence in the face of injustice.  And, black people are the only people in America who are not free.

Show me any nation or group of people on the face of this earth who have not fought and shed blood for freedom––and you will those people still enslaved.  Whenever there is injustice, all initial efforts to overcome it must be short of violence––but the threat of violence or willingness to forthrightly engage in whatever form of attack is necessary to overcome it is often a requirement.

Israel does not advocate violence as a primary solution––nor did Americans when we dumped the tea in the Boston Harbor.  Black people must reflect the same sense of dignity that all respected human beings have possessed––and only black people can accept the responsibility for the full development of self.  Others, can, and must, however, for their own good do all they can to facilitate this empowerment or self-development of black people.

Black people rioted last summer.  All sorts of reason such as housing, job, education came forth for this new explosion.

But, housing is not the basic issue, even though we must have a place to live.

Jobs, are not the basic issue, even though we must have work.

Education is not the issue because black men and black women are denied the jobs that they are already overly qualified for now.

Even black people with housing, jobs and education are victimized by our racial mores.

Police brutality may be an irritant, but even that is not the fundamental issue.

What is the issue?

The key issue––and only issue––is that people who are black have not unified and moved into the power struggle inherent in any free-enterprise and/or democratic system with power!  This is necessary in business, politics, our professions, our social organization and our political organizations, etc.

I believe that if right this very day a significant number of black people could feel in their soul their true sense of worth as human beings––and reflected on the constant humiliation they have faced and the vicious vulgarity and criminality of just the thought of another human being feeling he has the right to vote on whether you can live next door to him or work on a certain job––I believe that these black people would stand up with such aggression that a large measure of this so-called problem would have then been resolved.

People respect power.  Power is necessary for everyone––but in equitable terms.  We in NAMD suffer from a feeling of powerlessness.  It is also true that many of us may not be qualified for more than what we are doing––or for leadership in facilitating needed changes within our own industry.  But part of self-realization is understanding our personal limitations and knowing when to accept leadership that can develop the kind of self-respect or wholesome self-image required of all self-sustaining people.

For your company's best interest––and for your own as a black man, you should be involved in salutary efforts to re-build the deserved esteem among black people.  One thing you can do is make plans, starting now, to attend next year's conference on Black Power as an official representative of your company, particularly since the ablest black minds in America are needed to get our own house in order.

I Thank You ... and More Power to You!!
Please note that the language and terminology used in this collection reflects the context and culture of the time of its creation, and may include culturally sensitive information. As an historical document, its contents may be at odds with contemporary views and terminology. The information within this collection does not reflect the views of the Smithsonian Institution, but is available in its original form to facilitate research. For questions or comments regarding sensitive content, access, and use related to this collection, please contact