- 1. Mr. Baldwin,
- 2. I'm sure you still meet the remark that:
- 3. "What are the Negroes...
why aren't they optimistic?
- 4. Um... They say, "But
it's getting so much better.
- 5. There are negro mayors,
- 6. there are negroes in all of sports."
- 7. There are negroes in politics.
- 8. They're even accorded
the ultimate accolade
- 9. of being in television commercials now.
- 10. I'm glad you're smiling.
- 11. Is it at once getting
much better and still hopeless?
- 12. I don't think there's much hope for it,
you know, to tell you the truth,
- 13. as long as people are using
this peculiar language.
- 14. It's not a question of
what happens to the Negro here,
- 15. or to the black man here,
- 16. that's a very vivid question
for me, you know,
- 17. but the real question is what's
going to happen to this country.
- 18. I have to repeat that.
- 19. The summer has scarcely begun,
- 20. and I feel already that it's almost over.
- 21. And I will be 55.
- 22. Yes, 55, in a month.
- 23. I am about to undertake the journey.
- 24. And this is a journey,
to tell you the truth,
- 25. which I always knew
that I would have to make,
- 26. but had hoped, perhaps,
- 27. certainly had hoped,
- 28. not to have to make so soon.
- 29. I am saying that a journey is called that
- 30. because you cannot know
what you will discover
- 31. on the journey,
- 32. what you will do with what you find,
- 33. or what you find will do to you.
- 34. Not only have a right to be free,
- 35. - we have a duty to be free.
- 36. And so when you sit down on the bus
and you sit down in the front,
- 37. or sit down by a white person,
- 38. you are sitting there because
you have a duty to sit down,
- 39. not merely because you have a right.
- 40. The time of these lives and deaths,
- 41. from a public point of view, is 1955,
- 42. when we first heard of Martin,
- 43. to 1968, when he was murdered.
- 44. Medgar was murdered in the summer of 1963.
- 45. Malcolm was murdered in 1965.
- 46. The three men,
- 47. Medgar, Malcolm, and Martin,
were very different men.
- 48. Consider that Martin was only 26 in 1955.
- 49. He took on his shoulders
the weight of the crimes,
- 50. and the lies, and the hope of a nation.
- 51. I want these three lives to bang against
- 52. and reveal each other,
as in truth, they did
- 53. and use their dreadful journey
- 54. as a means of instructing the people
- 55. whom they loved so much,
- 56. who betrayed them,
- 57. and for whom they gave their lives.
- 58. The moment a negro child
- 59. walks into the school,
- 60. every decent, self-respecting,
- 61. should take his white child
out of that broken school.
- 62. Go back to your own school.
- 63. God forgives murder
and he forgives adultery.
- 64. But He is very angry
- 65. and He actually curses
all who do integrate.
- 66. That's when I saw the photograph.
- 67. On every newspaper kiosk
- 68. on that wide, tree-shaped
boulevard in Paris,
- 69. were photographs
of 15-year-old Dorothy Counts
- 70. being reviled and spat upon by the mob
- 71. as she was making her way to school
- 72. in Charlotte, North Carolina.
- 73. There was unutterable pride,
- 74. tension and anguish in that girl's face
- 75. as she approached the halls of learning,
- 76. with history jeering at her back.
- 77. It made me furious,
- 78. it filled me with both hatred and pity.
- 79. And it made me ashamed.
- 80. Some one of us should have
been there with her!
- 81. But it was on that bright afternoon
- 82. that I knew I was leaving France.
- 83. I could simply no longer sit around Paris,
- 84. discussing the Algerian
and the Black American problem.
- 85. Everybody else was paying their dues,
- 86. and it was time I went home and paid mine.
- 87. I had at last come home.
- 88. If there was, in this, some illusion,
- 89. there was also much truth.
- 90. In the years in Paris,
- 91. I had never been homesick
for anything American.
- 92. Neither waffles, ice cream,
- 93. hot dogs, baseball, majorettes, movies,
- 94. nor the Empire State Building,
nor Coney Island,
- 95. nor the Statue of Liberty,
nor the Daily News,
- 96. nor Times Square.
- 97. All of these things had passed out of me.
- 98. They might never have existed,
and it made absolutely
- 99. no difference to me
if I never saw them again.
- 100. But I missed my brothers
and sisters, and my mother.
- 101. They made a difference.
- 102. I wanted to be able to see them,
and to see their children.
- 103. I hoped that they wouldn't forget me.
- 104. I missed Harlem Sunday mornings
and fried chicken,
- 105. and biscuits, I missed the music,
- 106. I missed the style...
- 107. that style possessed by
no other people in the world.
- 108. I missed the way the dark face closes,
- 109. the way dark eyes watch, and the way,
- 110. when a dark face opens,
a light seems to go everywhere.
- 111. I missed, in short, my connections,
- 112. missed the life which had
produced me and nourished me
- 113. and paid for me.
- 114. Now, though I was a stranger, I was home.
- 115. I am fascinated by the movement
on and off the screen.
- 116. I am about seven.
- 117. I'm with my mother, or my aunt.
- 118. The movie is Dance, Fools, Dance.
- 119. I was aware that Joan Crawford
was a white lady.
- 120. Yet, I remember being sent
to the store sometime later,
- 121. and a colored woman who, to me,
- 122. looked exactly like Joan Crawford,
- 123. was buying something.
- 124. She was incredibly beautiful.
- 125. She looked down at me
with so beautiful a smile
- 126. that I was not even embarrassed,
- 127. which was rare for me.
- 128. By this time,
- 129. I had been taken in hand
by a young white schoolteacher
- 130. named Bill Miller, a beautiful woman,
- 131. very important to me.
- 132. She gave me books to read and
talked to me about the books,
- 133. and about the world:
- 134. about Ethiopia, and Italy,
- 135. and the German Third Reich,
- 136. and took me to see plays and films,
- 137. to which no one else would have dreamed
- 138. of taking a ten-year-old boy.
- 139. It is certainly because of Bill Miller,
- 140. who arrived in my terrifying life so soon,
- 141. that I never really managed
to hate white people.
- 142. Though, God knows,
- 143. I've often wished to murder
more than one or two.
- 144. Therefore, I begin to suspect
- 145. that white people did not act as they did
- 146. because they were white,
but for some other reason.
- 147. I was a child of course,
and therefore unsophisticated.
- 148. I took Bill Miller as she was,
or as she appeared to be to me.
- 149. She too, anyway,
was treated like a nigger,
- 150. especially by the cops,
- 151. and she had no love for landlords.
- 152. In these days, no one resembling my father
- 153. has yet made an appearance
on the American cinema scene.
- 154. No, it's not entirely true.
- 155. There were, for example,
Stepin Fetchit and Willie Best
- 156. and Mantan Moreland,
all of whom, rightly or wrongly,
- 157. I loathed.
- 158. It seemed to me that they lied
about the world I knew,
- 159. and debased it,
- 160. and certainly I did not know
anybody like them,
- 161. as far as I could tell.
- 162. For it also possible that
their comic, bug-eyed terror
- 163. contained the truth concerning a terror
- 164. by which I hoped never to be engulfed.
- 165. Yet, I had no reservations
at all concerning the terror
- 166. of the Black janitor in They Won't Forget.
- 167. Give me police!
- 168. Give me police!
- 169. Give me... Give me police!
- 170. I think that it was a black actor
- 171. named Clinton Rosemond
who played this part,
- 172. and he looked a little like my father.
- 173. I didn't do it. I didn't do it!
- 174. I didn't do it! I didn't do it!
- 175. He is terrified because a young white girl
- 176. in this small Southern town
has been raped and murdered,
- 177. and her body has been found
upon the premises
- 178. of which he is the janitor.
- 179. Good morning, Tump.
- 180. The role of the janitor is small,
- 181. yet the man's face
bangs in my memory until today.
- 182. - I have done nothing.
- Nobody says you have, Tom.
- 183. But they might.
- 184. The film's icy brutality both scared me...
- 185. What for?
- 186. and strengthened me.
- 187. Because Uncle Tom
refuses to take vengeance
- 188. in his own hands,
he was not a hero for me.
- 189. Heroes, as far as I could see,
- 190. and not merely because of the movies,
- 191. but because of the land in which I lived,
- 192. of which movies were simply a reflection.
- 193. I despised and feared those heroes
- 194. because they did take vengeance
into their own hands.
- 195. They thought vengeance was theirs to take.
- 196. And, yes, I understood that:
- 197. my countrymen were my enemy.
- 198. I suspect that all these stories
are designed to reassure us
- 199. that no crime was committed.
- 200. We've made a legend out of a massacre.
- 201. Leaving aside all the physical facts
- 202. which one can quote.
- 203. Leaving aside rape or murder.
- 204. Leaving aside the bloody catalog
- 205. which we are, in one way,
too familiar with already,
- 206. what this does to the subjugated
- 207. is to destroy his sense of reality.
- 208. This means, in the case
of an American negro,
- 209. born in that glittering republic,
- 210. and in the moment you are born,
- 211. since you don't know any better,
every stick and stone
- 212. and every face is white,
- 213. and since you have not yet seen a mirror,
- 214. you suppose that you are too.
- 215. It comes as a great shock
around the age of five,
- 216. or six, or seven,
- 217. to discover that Gary Cooper
killing off the Indians,
- 218. when you were rooting for Gary Cooper,
- 219. that the Indians were you.
- 220. It comes as a great shock
to discover the country,
- 221. which is your birthplace,
- 222. and to which you owe
your life and your identity,
- 223. has not, in its whole system of reality,
- 224. evolved any place for you.
- 225. I know how to do it, technically.
- 226. It is a matter of research and journeys.
- 227. And with you or without you,
I will do it anyway.
- 228. I begin in September,
when I go on the road.
- 229. "The road" means my return to the South.
- 230. It means briefly, for example,
seeing Myrlie Evers,
- 231. and the children.
- 232. Those children who are children no longer.
- 233. It means going back to Atlanta,
to Selma, to Birmingham.
- 234. It means seeing Coretta Scott King,
- 235. and Martin's children.
- 236. I know that Martin's daughter,
- 237. whose name I don't remember,
and Malcolm's oldest daughter,
- 238. whose name is Attalah
are both in the theatre,
- 239. and apparently are friends.
- 240. It means seeing Betty Shabazz,
- 241. and the five younger children.
- 242. It means exposing myself
as one of the witnesses
- 243. to the lives and deaths
of their famous fathers.
- 244. And it means much, much more than that.
- 245. "A clod of witnesses,"
as old St. Paul once put it.
- 246. I saw Malcolm before I met him.
- 247. I was giving a lecture
somewhere in New York.
- 248. Malcolm was sitting
in the first row of the hall,
- 249. bending forward at such an angle
that his long arms
- 250. nearly caressed the ankles
of his long legs,
- 251. staring up at me.
- 252. I very nearly panicked.
- 253. I knew Malcolm only by legend,
and this legend,
- 254. since I was a Harlem street boy,
- 255. I was sufficiently astute to distrust.
- 256. Malcolm might be the torch
that white people claim he was,
- 257. though, in general,
- 258. white America's evaluations
of these matters
- 259. would be laughable and even pathetic
- 260. did not these evaluations
have such wicked results.
- 261. On the other hand,
- 262. Malcolm had no reason to trust me either.
- 263. And so I stumbled through my lecture,
- 264. with Malcolm never
taking his eyes from my face.
- 265. As a member of the NAACP:
- 266. Medgar was investigating
the murder of a black man,
- 267. which had occurred months before,
- 268. had shown me letters from black people
- 269. asking him to do this,
- 270. and he had asked me to come with him.
- 271. I was terribly frightened,
- 272. but perhaps that fieldtrip
will help us define
- 273. what I mean by the word "witness".
- 274. I was to discover that the line
which separates a witness
- 275. from an actor is a very thin line indeed.
- 276. Nevertheless, the line is real.
- 277. I was not, for example, a Black Muslim,
- 278. in the same way,
though for different reasons,
- 279. that I never became a Black Panther.
- 280. Because I did not believe that
all white people were devils,
- 281. and I did not want young
black people to believe that.
- 282. I was not a member of any
Christian congregation because
- 283. I knew that they had not heard
- 284. and did not live by the commandment,
- 285. "Love one another as I love you."
- 286. And I was not a member of the NAACP
- 287. because in the North, where I grew up,
- 288. the NAACP was fatally entangled
with black class distinctions,
- 289. or illusions of the same,
- 290. which repelled a shoe-shine boy like me.
- 291. I did not have to deal with the
criminal state of Mississippi,
- 292. hour by hour and day by day,
- 293. to say nothing of night after night.
- 294. I did not have to sweat
cold sweat after decisions
- 295. involving hundreds of thousands of lives.
- 296. I was not responsible for raising money,
- 297. or deciding how to use it.
- 298. I was not responsible for strategy
- 299. controlling prayer-meetings, marches,
- 300. petitions, voting registration drives.
- 301. I saw the Sheriffs, the Deputies,
- 302. the Storm Troopers,
more or less in passing.
- 303. I was never in town to stay.
- 304. This was sometimes hard on my morale,
- 305. but I had to accept, as time wore on,
- 306. that part of my responsibility,
as a witness,
- 307. was to move as largely
and as freely as possible.
- 308. To write the story, and to get it out.
- 309. We should all be concerned
with but one goal,
- 310. the eradication of crime.
- 311. The Federal Bureau of
Investigation is as close to you
- 312. as your nearest telephone.
- 313. It seeks to be your protector
- 314. in all matters within its jurisdiction.
- 315. It belongs to you.
- 316. White people are astounded by Birmingham.
- 317. Black people aren't.
- 318. White people are endlessly
demanding to be reassured
- 319. that Birmingham is really on Mars.
- 320. They don't want to believe,
still less to act on the belief,
- 321. that what is happening in Birmingham
- 322. is happening all over the country.
- 323. They don't want to realize
that there is not one step,
- 324. morally or actually,
- 325. between Birmingham and Los Angeles.
- 326. Move on, move on!
- 327. We've invited three men,
- 328. on the forefront of The Negro Struggle,
- 329. to sit down and talk with us
- 330. in front of the television camera.
- 331. Each of these men, through
his actions and his words,
- 332. but with vastly different
manner and means,
- 333. is a spokesman for some segment
of the Negro people today.
- 334. Black people in this country
have been the victims
- 335. of violence at the hands
of the white man for 400 years.
- 336. And following the ignorant
- 337. we have thought that it was
Godlike to turn the other cheek
- 338. to the brute that was brutalizing us.
- 339. Malcolm X, one of the most
- 340. of the Black Muslim philosophy,
- 341. has said of your movement
and your philosophy
- 342. that it plays into the hands
of the white oppressors,
- 343. that they are happy to hear you talk about
- 344. love for the oppressor,
because this disarms the Negro
- 345. and fits into the stereotype
of the Negro as a meek,
- 346. turning the other cheek sort of creature.
- 347. Would you care to comment
on Mr. X's beliefs?
- 348. Well, I don't think of love as...
- 349. in this context, as emotional bosh,
- 350. but I think of love as something strong
- 351. and that organizes itself
into powerful direct action.
- 352. This is what I've tried to teach
in the struggle in the South.
- 353. We are not engaged in a struggle
- 354. that means we sit down and do nothing.
- 355. There is a great deal
of difference between
- 356. non-resistance to evil
and non-violent resistance.
- 357. Martin Luther King is just a
20th century or modern Uncle Tom
- 358. or a religious Uncle Tom,
- 359. who is doing the same thing today
- 360. to keep Negroes defenseless
in the face of attack
- 361. that Uncle Tom did on the plantation
- 362. to keep those Negroes defenseless
- 363. in the face of the attacks
of the Klan in that day.
- 364. I think, though, that we can be sure
- 365. that the vast majority of Negroes
- 366. who engage in the demonstrations,
- 367. and who understand
the non-violent philosophy,
- 368. will be able to face dogs
- 369. and all of the other brutal
methods that are used
- 370. without retaliating with violence,
- 371. because they understand
- 372. that one of the first principles
- 373. is a willingness
to be the recipient of violence,
- 374. while never inflicting violence
- 375. As concerns Malcolm and Martin,
- 376. I watched two men,
coming from unimaginably
- 377. different backgrounds,
whose positions, originally,
- 378. were poles apart,
- 379. driven closer and closer together.
- 380. By the time each died,
their positions had become,
- 381. virtually, the same position.
- 382. It can be said, indeed,
- 383. that Martin picked up Malcolm's burden,
- 384. articulated the vision
which Malcolm had begun to see,
- 385. and for which he paid with his life,
- 386. and that Malcolm was one of the people
- 387. Martin saw on the mountain-top.
- 388. Medgar was too young
to have seen this happen,
- 389. though he hoped for it, and
would not have been surprised.
- 390. But Medgar was murdered first.
- 391. I was older than Medgar,
Malcolm and Martin.
- 392. I was raised to believe that
the eldest was supposed to be
- 393. a model for the younger,
and was, of course,
- 394. expected to die first.
- 395. Not one of these three lived to be forty.
- 396. Two, four, six eight,
we don't want to integrate!
- 397. Two, four, six eight,
we don't want to integrate!
- 398. We want King! We want King! We want King!
- 399. We need an organization
that no one downtown loves.
- 400. We need one that's ready
and willing to take action,
- 401. any kind of action,
by any means necessary.
- 402. When Malcolm talks,
- 403. or one of the Muslim ministers talk,
- 404. they articulate for all
the Negro people who hear them,
- 405. who listen to them,
they articulate their suffering.
- 406. The suffering which has been
in this country so long denied.
- 407. That's Malcolm's great authority
over any of his audiences.
- 408. He corroborates their reality.
- 409. He tells them that
they really exist, you know.
- 410. Get back. Get back!
- 411. I am!
- 412. I am!
- 413. There are days, this is one of them...
- 414. when you wonder...
- 415. what your role is in this country
- 416. and what your future is in it.
- 417. How precisely
are you going to reconcile...
- 418. yourself to your situation here,
- 419. and how you are going to communicate...
- 420. to the vast, heedless, unthinking...
- 421. cruel white majority
- 422. that you are here.
- 423. I'm terrified at the moral apathy,
- 424. the death of the heart,
- 425. which is happening in my country.
- 426. These people have deluded
themselves for so long
- 427. that they really don't think I'm human.
- 428. I base this on their conduct,
not on what they say.
- 429. And this means that they
have become, in themselves...
- 430. moral monsters.
- 431. Most of the white Americans
I've ever encountered,
- 432. really, you know, had
a Negro friend or a Negro maid
- 433. or somebody in high school,
but they never, you know,
- 434. or rarely, after school was over
- 435. came to my kitchen, you know.
- 436. We were segregated
from the schoolhouse door.
- 437. Therefore, he doesn't know,
he really does not know,
- 438. what it was like for me to leave my house,
- 439. to leave the school and go back to Harlem.
- 440. He doesn't know how Negroes live.
- 441. And it comes as a great surprise
to the Kennedy brothers
- 442. and to everybody else in the country.
- 443. I'm certain, again, you know,
- 444. that again like most white
Americans I have encountered,
- 445. they have no...
- 446. I'm sure they have nothing
whatever against Negroes...
- 447. That's really not the question.
- 448. The question is really
a kind of apathy and ignorance,
- 449. which is the price we pay for segregation.
- 450. That's what segregation means.
- 451. You don't know what's happening
on the other side of the wall,
- 452. because you don't want to know.
- 453. I was in some way,
- 454. in those years,
without entirely realizing it,
- 455. the great Black Hope
of the great White Father.
- 456. I was not a racist, or so I thought.
- 457. Malcolm was a racist, or so they thought.
- 458. In fact, we were simply
trapped in the same situation.
- 459. Well, you tell that to my boy tonight,
- 460. when you put him to sleep
on the living room couch.
- 461. And you tell it to him in the morning,
- 462. when his mother goes out of here
- 463. to take care of somebody else's kids.
- 464. And tell it to me, when we want
some curtains or some drapes
- 465. and you sneak out of here and
go work in somebody's kitchen.
- 466. All I want is to make
a future for this family.
- 467. All I want is to be able to
stand in front of my boy
- 468. like my father never was able to do to me.
- 469. Lorraine Hansberry
would not be very much younger
- 470. than I am now, if she were alive.
- 471. At the time of the Bobby Kennedy meeting,
- 472. she was thirty-three.
- 473. That was one of the very last
times I saw her on her feet,
- 474. and she died at the age of thirty-four.
- 475. I miss her so much.
- 476. People forget how young everybody was.
- 477. Bobby Kennedy, for another,
quite different example,
- 478. was thirty-eight.
- 479. We wanted him to tell his brother,
- 480. the president,
to personally escort to school,
- 481. on that day or the day after,
a small black girl,
- 482. already scheduled
to enter Deep South School.
- 483. "That way," we said,
- 484. "it will be clear that
whoever spits on that child
- 485. will be spitting on the nation."
- 486. He didn't understand this either.
- 487. "It would be," he said,
"a meaningless moral gesture."
- 488. "We would like," said Lorraine,
"from you, a moral commitment".
- 489. He looked insulted,
- 490. seemed to feel that
he'd been wasting his time.
- 491. Well, Lorraine sat still,
watching all the while.
- 492. She looked at Bobby Kennedy,
- 493. who, perhaps for the first time,
looked at her.
- 494. "But I am very worried," she said,
- 495. "about the state of the civilization
- 496. which produced that photograph
of the white cop
- 497. standing on that Negro woman's
neck in Birmingham."
- 498. Then she smiled.
- 499. And I am glad
that she was not smiling at me.
- 500. "Goodbye Mr. Attorney General," she said,
- 501. and turned and walked out of the room.
- 502. And then, we heard the thunder.
- 503. He stopped at his house
on the way to the airport
- 504. so I could autograph my books
for him, his wife and children.
- 505. I remember Myrlie Evers
standing outside, smiling,
- 506. and we waved,
- 507. and Medgar drove to the airport
and put me on the plane.
- 508. Months later, I was in Puerto Rico,
- 509. working on my play.
- 510. Lucien and I had spent a day or so
- 511. wandering around the island,
- 512. and now we were driving home.
- 513. It was a wonderful, bright, sunny day,
- 514. the top to the car was down,
we were laughing and talking,
- 515. and the radio was playing.
- 516. Then the music stopped...
- 517. and a voice announced
that Medgar Evers
- 518. had been shot to death
in the carport of his home,
- 519. and his wife and children
had seen the big man fall.
- 520. The blue sky seemed
to descend like a blanket.
- 521. And I couldn't say anything,
I couldn't cry.
- 522. I just remembered his face,
- 523. a bright, blunt, handsome face,
- 524. and his weariness,
which he wore like his skin,
- 525. and the way he said "ro-aad" for road.
- 526. And his telling me
how the tatters of clothes
- 527. from a lynched body hung,
flapping in the tree for days,
- 528. and how he had to pass that tree
- 529. Medgar.
- 530. Gone.
- 531. In America, I was free only in battle,
- 532. never free to rest,
- 533. and he who finds no way to rest
- 534. cannot long survive the battle.
- 535. And the young,
white revolutionary remains,
- 536. in general, far more romantic
than a black one.
- 537. White people have managed
to get through entire lifetimes
- 538. in this euphoric state,
- 539. but black people have not been so lucky.
- 540. A black man who sees the world
the way John Wayne,
- 541. for example, sees it...
- 542. would not be an eccentric patriot,
- 543. but a raving maniac.
- 544. The truth is that this country
does not know what to do
- 545. with its black population,
- 546. dreaming of anything like
"The Final Solution".
- 547. The Negro has never been
- 548. as docile as white Americans
wanted to believe.
- 549. That was a myth.
- 550. We were not singing
and dancing down the levee.
- 551. We were trying to keep alive,
- 552. we were trying to survive
a very brutal system.
- 553. The nigger has never
been happy in his place.
- 554. One of the most terrible things,
- 555. is that, whether I like it or not,
- 556. I am an American.
- 557. My school really was
the streets of New York City.
- 558. My frame of reference was...
- 559. George Washington and John Wayne.
- 560. But I was a child, you know,
and when a child puts his eyes
- 561. on the world, he has to use what he sees.
- 562. There's nothing else to use.
- 563. And you are formed by what you see,
- 564. the choices you have to make,
and the way you discover
- 565. what it means to be black in New York
- 566. and then throughout the entire country.
- 567. I know how you watch, as you grow older,
- 568. and it's not a figure of speech,
- 569. the corpses of your brothers
and your sisters
- 570. pile up around you.
- 571. And not for anything they have done.
- 572. They were too young to have done anything.
- 573. But what one does realize
is that when you try to stand up
- 574. and look the world in the face
like you had a right to be here,
- 575. you have attacked
the entire power structure
- 576. of the western world.
- 577. Forget "The Negro Problem".
- 578. Don't write any voting acts.
- 579. We had that. It's called
The Fifteenth Amendment.
- 580. During the Civil Rights Bill of 1964,
- 581. what you have to look at is what
is happening in this country,
- 582. and what is really happening
is that brother
- 583. has murdered brother,
knowing it was his brother.
- 584. White men have lynched Negroes,
knowing them to be their sons.
- 585. White women have had Negroes burned,
- 586. knowing them to be their lovers.
- 587. It is not a racial problem.
- 588. It's a problem of whether or not
- 589. to look at your life
and be responsible for it,
- 590. and then begin to change it.
- 591. That great western house
I come from is one house,
- 592. and I am one of the children
of that house.
- 593. Simply, I am the most
despised child of that house.
- 594. And it is because
the American people are unable
- 595. to face the fact that
I am flesh of their flesh,
- 596. bone of their bone, created by them.
- 597. My blood, my father's blood,
is in that soil.
- 598. Good afternoon, Ma'am.
- 599. It's raining so hard,
- 600. I brought rubbers and coat
to fetch my little girl home.
- 601. I'm afraid you've made some mistake.
- 602. Ain't this the 3B?
- 603. - Yes.
- Well, this is it.
- 604. It can't be it.
- 605. I have no little
colored children in my class.
- 606. Oh, thank you.
- 607. There's my little girl.
- 608. Peola, you may you home.
- 609. Gee, I didn't know she was colored.
- 610. Neither did I.
- 611. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you!
- 612. Peola! Peola!
- 613. I know very well that my ancestors
- 614. had no desire to come to this place.
- 615. But neither did the ancestors
of the people who became white,
- 616. and who require of my captivity a song.
- 617. They require a song of me,
- 618. less to celebrate my captivity
than to justify their own.
- 619. I have always been struck, in America,
- 620. by an emotional poverty so bottomless,
- 621. and a terror of human life,
of human touch,
- 622. so deep that virtually no
American appears able to achieve
- 623. any viable, organic connection
- 624. between his public stance
and his private life.
- 625. This failure of the private life
has always had the most
- 626. devastating effect
on American public conduct,
- 627. and on black-white relations.
- 628. If Americans were not so terrified
- 629. of their private selves,
- 630. they would never have become so dependent
- 631. on what they call "The Negro Problem".
- 632. They said it wasn't nice to say "nigger".
- 633. Nigger!
- 634. Nigger! Nigger!
- 635. Poor little nigger kids,
love the little nigger kids.
- 636. Who loved me?
- 637. Who loved me?
- 638. This problem, which they invented
- 639. in order to safeguard their purity,
- 640. has made of them criminals and monsters,
- 641. and it is destroying them.
- 642. And this, not from anything
Blacks may or may not be doing,
- 643. but because of the role
- 644. of a guilty and constricted
- 645. has assigned to the Blacks.
- 646. Look man, don't give me that look.
- 647. You should have got what was coming to you
- 648. after spitting in that guy's face.
- 649. Why you...
- 650. It is impossible to
accept the premise of the story,
- 651. a premise based on the profound
- 652. of the nature of the hatred
between black and white.
- 653. That time is now.
- 654. The root of the black man's
hatred is rage,
- 655. and he does not so much hate white men
- 656. as simply wants them out of his way,
- 657. and more than that,
- 658. out of his children's way.
- 659. The root of the white man's
hatred is terror.
- 660. I'm gonna kill you.
- 661. A bottomless and nameless terror,
- 662. which focuses on this dread figure,
- 663. an entity which lives only in his mind.
- 664. Run!
- 665. Come on!
- 666. I can't make it, I can't make it!
- 667. When Sidney jumps off the train,
- 668. the white liberal people downtown
- 669. were much relieved and joyful.
- 670. But when black people
saw him jump off the train,
- 671. they yelled, "Get back
on the train, you fool!"
- 672. The black man jumps off the train
- 673. in order to reassure white people,
- 674. to make them know that they are not hated,
- 675. that though they have made human errors,
- 676. they done nothing for which to be hated.
- 677. In spite of the fabulous myths
- 678. proliferating in this country
- 679. concerning the sexuality of black people,
- 680. black men are still used,
in the popular culture,
- 681. as though they had
no sexual equipment at all.
- 682. Sidney Poitier,
as a black artist, and a man,
- 683. is also up against the infantile,
- 684. furtive sexuality of this country.
- 685. Both he and Harry Belafonte, for example,
- 686. are sex symbols,
though no one dares admit that,
- 687. still less to use them as any of
the Hollywood he-men are used.
- 688. Black people have been robbed
of everything in this country...
- 689. I've got something to say to you, boy.
- 690. and they don't want to be
robbed of their artist.
- 691. Black people particularly disliked
- 692. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner,
- 693. because they felt that
Sidney was, in effect,
- 694. being used against them.
- 695. Guess Who's Coming to Dinner may prove,
- 696. in some bizarre way, to be a milestone,
- 697. because it is really quite
impossible to go any further
- 698. in that particular direction.
- 699. The next time,
the kissing will have to start.
- 700. Well, you've got your ticket?
- 701. Here you are.
- 702. Thank you.
- 703. I am aware that men do not kiss each other
- 704. in American films, nor,
for the most part, in America
- 705. nor do the black detective
and the white Sheriff kiss here.
- 706. You take care, you hear?
- 707. Yeah.
- 708. But the obligatory, fade-out-kiss,
- 709. in the classic American film,
did not speak of love,
- 710. and still less of sex.
- 711. It spoke of reconciliation,
- 712. of all things now becoming possible.
- 713. I knew a blond girl in the village
- 714. a long time ago, and eventually,
- 715. we never walked out of the house together.
- 716. She was far safer
walking the streets alone
- 717. than when walking with me.
- 718. A brutal and humiliating fact
- 719. which thoroughly destroyed
- 720. this girl and I
might have been able to achieve.
- 721. This happens all the time in America,
- 722. but Americans have yet to realize
- 723. what a sinister fact this is,
- 724. and what it says about them.
- 725. When we walked out in the evening, then,
- 726. she would leave ahead of me, alone.
- 727. I would give about five minutes,
and then I would walk out alone,
- 728. taking another route, and
meet her on the subway platform.
- 729. We would not acknowledge each other.
- 730. We would get into the subway car,
- 731. sitting at opposite ends of it,
and walk, separately,
- 732. through the streets
of the free and the brave,
- 733. to wherever we were going...
a friend's house, or the movies.
- 734. All over the country,
- 735. families such this
are enjoying new prosperity.
- 736. They have new interests,
news standards of living,
- 737. a buying power
they've never enjoyed before.
- 738. There are good prospects
- 739. for practically all types
of goods and services.
- 740. All too often though,
they are overlooked prospects.
- 741. Since 1940, in San Francisco alone,
- 742. the Negro market has increased by 89%.
- 743. Here are millions of customers
for what you have to sell.
- 744. Customers with 15 billion dollars to spend
- 745. Someone once said to me
- 746. that the people in general
cannot bear very much reality.
- 747. He meant by this that they prefer fantasy
- 748. to a truthful recreation
of their experience.
- 749. People have quite enough reality to bear,
- 750. by simply getting through their lives,
- 751. raising their children,
- 752. dealing with the eternal conundrums
- 753. of birth, taxes, and death.
- 754. Negroes are continuously making
progress here in this country.
- 755. The progress in many areas
is not as fast as it should be,
- 756. but they are making progress,
- 757. and we will continue to make progress.
- 758. There's no reason that they, in
a near and foreseeable future,
- 759. that a Negro could also be
president of the United States
- 760. I remember, for example,
- 761. when the ex-Attorney General,
Mr. Robert Kennedy,
- 762. said that it was conceivable
- 763. that in 40 years in America,
we might have a Negro president.
- 764. And that sounded like
a very emancipated statement,
- 765. I suppose, to white people.
- 766. They were not in Harlem...
- 767. when this statement was first heard.
- 768. And did not hear,
and possibly will never hear,
- 769. the laughter and the bitterness
and the scorn
- 770. with which this statement was greeted.
- 771. From the point of view of the
man in the Harlem barbershop,
- 772. Bobby Kennedy only got here yesterday.
- 773. And now he's already
on his way to the Presidency.
- 774. We've been here for 400 years
and now he tells us
- 775. that maybe in 40 years, if you're good,
- 776. we may let you become president.
- 777. Let me put it this way,
- 778. that from a very literal point of view,
- 779. the harbors and the ports
- 780. and the railroads of the country,
- 781. the economy,
- 782. especially in the southern states,
- 783. could not conceivably be
what it has become
- 784. if they had not had,
- 785. and do not still have,
indeed, and for so long,
- 786. so many generations,
- 787. cheap labor.
- 788. It is a terrible thing
- 789. for an entire people
- 790. to surrender to the notion
that one ninth of its population
- 791. is beneath them.
- 792. And until that moment,
until the moment comes,
- 793. when we, the Americans,
- 794. we, the American people,
are able to accept the fact
- 795. that I have to accept, for example,
- 796. that my ancestors
are both white and black.
- 797. That on that continent we are
trying to forge a new identity
- 798. for which we need each other,
- 799. and that I am not a ward of America.
- 800. I am not an object of missionary charity,
- 801. I am one of the people
who built the country.
- 802. Until this moment,
- 803. there is scarcely any hope
for the American Dream,
- 804. because people who are denied
participation in it,
- 805. by their very presence...
- 806. will wreck it.
- 807. And if that happens, it is a
very grave moment for the West.
- 808. Thank you.
- 809. We're here in the studio today
- 810. with seven men who have
two things in common:
- 811. they are entertainers and artists;
- 812. and they've all come to Washington.
- 813. They are seven out of some
two hundred thousand
- 814. American citizens who came to the capital
- 815. to march for freedom and for jobs.
- 816. Will this tremendous outburst
now lead to a course of action,
- 817. Mr. Belafonte?
- 818. The now that is being
spoken about is the fact that
- 819. in a hundred years, finally,
- 820. through whatever the causes
have been in history,
- 821. and most of them have been
because of oppression,
- 822. the Negro people have strongly and fully
- 823. taken the bit in their teeth,
- 824. they're asking absolutely
no quarter from anyone.
- 825. But I do say that
the bulk of the interpretation
- 826. of whether this thing is going to end
- 827. successfully and joyously,
- 828. or is going to end disastrously,
- 829. lays very heavily
with the white community,
- 830. it lays very heavily with the profiteers,
- 831. it lays very heavily
with the vested interests.
- 832. It lays very heavily
with a great middle stream
- 833. in this country,
- 834. of people who have refused
to commit themselves,
- 835. or even have the slightest knowledge
- 836. that these things have been going on.
- 837. I am speaking as
a member of a certain democracy
- 838. in a very complex country,
- 839. which insists on being
- 840. Simplicity is taken to be
a great American virtue,
- 841. along with sincerity.
- 842. I am sorry.
- 843. I am deeply sorry.
- 844. And I am sorry.
- 845. I'm deeply sorry about that.
- 846. They are no excuses.
- 847. I am solely...
- 848. We have made plenty of mistakes.
- 849. For that, I apologize.
- 850. I am very sorry.
- 851. I'm sorry I did this to you,
but you gotta get used to it.
- 852. It's one of those little problems in life.
- 853. I take full responsibility.
- 854. I'm here today to again apologize.
- 855. I'll just apologize for that to her.
- 856. For any mistakes I've made,
I take full responsibility.
- 857. It's an honor to serve
the city of Ferguson
- 858. and the people who live there.
- 859. One of the results of this
- 860. is that immaturity
is taken to be a virtue too.
- 861. So that someone like that,
let's say John Wayne,
- 862. who spent most of his time on screen
- 863. admonishing Indians,
- 864. was in no necessity to grow up.
- 865. We were free and we decided
to treat ourselves
- 866. to a really fancy, friendly dinner.
- 867. The head waiter came and said
there was a phone call for me,
- 868. and my sister Gloria rose to take it.
- 869. She was very strange when she came back.
- 870. She didn't say anything,
- 871. and I began to be afraid
to ask her anything.
- 872. Then, nibbling at something
she obviously wasn't tasting,
- 873. she said, "Well, I've got to tell you
- 874. because the press is on its way over here.
- 875. They have just killed Malcolm."
- 876. There is nothing in the evidence
- 877. offered by the book
of the American republic,
- 878. which allows me really to argue
with the cat who says to me,
- 879. "They needed us to pick the cotton,
- 880. and now they don't need us anymore.
- 881. Now they don't need us,
they're gonna kill us all off,
- 882. just like they did the Indians".
- 883. And I can't say it's a Christian nation.
- 884. Though your brothers
will never do that to you,
- 885. because the record is
too long and too bloody.
- 886. That's all we have done.
- 887. All your buried corpses
now begin to speak.
- 888. I say violence is necessary.
- 889. Violence is a part of America's culture.
- 890. It is as American as cherry pie.
- 891. Black power, Brothers.
- 892. If we were white,
- 893. if we were Irish, if we were Jewish,
- 894. if we were Poles, if we had, in fact,
- 895. in your mind, a frame of reference,
- 896. our heroes would be your heroes too.
- 897. Nat Turner would be a hero
for you instead of a threat.
- 898. Malcolm X might still be alive.
- 899. Everyone is very proud
of brave little Israel,
- 900. a state against which I have nothing,
I don't want to be misinterpreted,
- 901. I'm not an anti-Semite.
- 902. But, you know,
when the Israelis pick up guns,
- 903. or the Poles, or the Irish,
- 904. or any white man in the world says,
- 905. "Give me liberty, or give me death",
- 906. the entire white world applauds.
- 907. When a black man says
exactly the same thing,
- 908. word for word,
- 909. he is judged a criminal
and treated like one
- 910. and everything possible is done
- 911. to make an example of this bad nigger,
- 912. so there won't be any more like him.
- 913. Look out across this land we love,
- 914. look about you whatever you are,
this unending scenic beauty,
- 915. and there's freedom,
- 916. it's an inherent American right
- 917. meaning many different things
to every single citizen.
- 918. It's a leisurely afternoon
of golf along a pleasant course.
- 919. It's an amusement park,
a rollercoaster ride.
- 920. A day at the county fair.
- 921. A day of excitement,
- 922. unrestricted travel
across all our 50 states,
- 923. unlimited enjoyment of all these jewels
- 924. in the continent's crown.
- 925. For all of us, there's all of America,
- 926. in all of its scenic beauty,
all of its heritage of history,
- 927. all of its limitless opportunity...
- 928. We've dropped too many bombs
on Vietnam now.
- 929. Let us save our national honor!
- 930. Stop the bombing,
- 931. and stop the war!
- 932. What I am trying to say to this country,
- 933. to us,
- 934. is that we must know this.
- 935. We must realize this,
- 936. that no other country in the world
- 937. have been so fat
and so sleek, and so safe,
- 938. and so happy, and so irresponsible,
- 939. and so dead.
- 940. No other country can afford to
dream of a Plymouth and a wife
- 941. and a house with a fence,
- 942. and the children growing up safely
- 943. to go to college and to become executives,
- 944. and then to marry,
- 945. and have the Plymouth and the house
- 946. and so forth.
- 947. A great many people do not live this way,
- 948. and cannot imagine it,
- 949. and do not know that when
we talk about "democracy",
- 950. this is what we mean.
- 951. The industry is compelled,
- 952. given the way it is built,
- 953. to present to the American people
- 954. a self-perpetuating fantasy
of American life.
- 955. Their concept of entertainment
is difficult to distinguish
- 956. from the use of narcotics.
- 957. What worries you about
them having black partners?
- 958. Do you think people are
gonna look down on them,
- 959. - or judge them?
- Yes, I think people look down.
- 960. To watch the TV screen
for any length of time
- 961. is to learn some really frightening things
- 962. about the American sense of reality.
- 963. We are cruelly trapped between
what we would like to be
- 964. and what we actually are.
- 965. And we cannot possibly become
what we would like to be until
- 966. we are willing to ask ourselves
just why the lives we lead
- 967. on this continent are mainly so empty,
- 968. so tame, and so ugly.
- 969. These images are designed not to trouble,
- 970. but to reassure.
- 971. They also weaken our ability
to deal with the world as it is,
- 972. ourselves as we are.
- 973. I would like to add someone
to our group here,
- 974. Professor Paul Weiss,
- 975. the sterling professor
of philosophy at Yale.
- 976. Were you able to listen
to the show backstage?
- 977. I heard a good deal of it,
- 978. but then I was behind the whatsitmajig.
- 979. - Yes.
- So I heard only some of it.
- 980. Did you hear anything
that you disagreed with?
- 981. I disagreed with a great deal of it,
- 982. and of course, there's
a good deal I agree with.
- 983. But I think he's overlooking
one very important matter,
- 984. I think.
- 985. Each one of us,
I think, is terribly alone.
- 986. He lives his own individual life.
- 987. He has all kind of obstacles,
the way of religion or color
- 988. or size or shape or lack of ability,
- 989. and the problem is to become a man.
- 990. But what I was discussing
was not that problem, really.
- 991. I was discussing
the difficulties, the obstacles,
- 992. the very real danger of death
- 993. thrown up by the society
when a Negro, when a black man,
- 994. attempts to become a man.
- 995. All this emphasis
upon black man and white,
- 996. does emphasize something which is here,
- 997. but it emphasizes,
or perhaps exaggerates it,
- 998. and therefore makes us
put people together in groups
- 999. which they ought not to be in.
- 1000. I have more in common with a black scholar
- 1001. than I have with a white man
who is against scholarship.
- 1002. And you have more in common
with a white author
- 1003. than you have with someone
who is against all literature.
- 1004. So why must we always
concentrate on color,
- 1005. or religion, or this?
- 1006. There are other ways of connecting men.
- 1007. I'll tell you this.
- 1008. When I left this country in 1948,
- 1009. I left this country for one reason only,
- 1010. one reason... I didn't care where I went.
- 1011. I might've gone to Hong Kong,
I might have gone to Timbuktu.
- 1012. I ended up in Paris,
on the streets of Paris,
- 1013. with 40 dollars in my pocket
and the theory
- 1014. that nothing worse
could happen to me there
- 1015. than had already happened to me here.
- 1016. You talk about making it
as a writer by yourself,
- 1017. you have to be able then
to turn up all the antennae
- 1018. by which you live,
- 1019. because once you turn your back
on this society,
- 1020. you may die.
- 1021. You may die.
- 1022. And it's very hard to sit at a typewriter,
- 1023. and concentrate on that,
- 1024. if you are afraid of the world around you.
- 1025. The years I lived in Paris
did one thing for me:
- 1026. they released me from
that particular social terror,
- 1027. which was not the paranoia of my own mind,
- 1028. but a real social danger visible
in the face of every cop,
- 1029. every boss, everybody.
- 1030. I don't know what most white
people in this country feel.
- 1031. But I can only include what they feel
- 1032. from that state of their institutions.
- 1033. I don't know if white Christians
hate Negroes or not,
- 1034. but I know we have a
Christian church which is white
- 1035. and a Christian church which is black.
- 1036. I know, as Malcolm X once put it,
- 1037. the most segregated hour in American life
- 1038. is high noon on Sunday.
- 1039. That says a great deal for me
about a Christian nation.
- 1040. It means I can't afford to trust
most white Christians
- 1041. and I certainly cannot trust
the Christian church.
- 1042. I don't know whether the
labor unions and their bosses
- 1043. really hate me. That doesn't matter,
- 1044. but I know I'm not in their unions.
- 1045. I don't know if the Real Estate Lobby
- 1046. has anything against black people,
- 1047. but I know the Real Estate Lobby
is keeping me in the ghetto.
- 1048. I don't know if the board of
education hates black people,
- 1049. but I know the textbooks
they give my children to read,
- 1050. and the schools that we have to go to.
- 1051. Now, this is the evidence.
- 1052. You want me to make an act of faith,
- 1053. risking myself, my wife, my woman,
- 1054. my sister, my children,
- 1055. on some idealism which you assure me
- 1056. exists in America,
which I have never seen.
- 1057. Hold on a second.
- 1058. All of the Western nations
- 1059. have been caught in a lie,
- 1060. the lie of their pretended humanism.
- 1061. This means that their history
has no moral justification,
- 1062. and that the West has no moral authority.
- 1063. "Vile as I am,"
- 1064. states one of the characters
in Dostoevsky's The Idiot,
- 1065. "I don't believe in the wagons
that bring bread to humanity.
- 1066. For the wagons
that bring bread to humanity,
- 1067. may coldly exclude
a considerable part of humanity
- 1068. from enjoying what is brought."
- 1069. For a very long time, America prospered.
- 1070. This prosperity cost millions
of people their lives.
- 1071. Now, not even the people who are
the most spectacular recipients
- 1072. of the benefits of this prosperity
- 1073. are able to endure these benefits.
- 1074. They can neither understand
them nor do without them.
- 1075. Above all, they cannot imagine
the price paid by their victims,
- 1076. or subjects, for this way of life,
- 1077. and so they cannot afford to know why
- 1078. the victims are revolting.
- 1079. Down!
- 1080. - On the ground!
- Get on the ground, now!
- 1081. Damn, man!
- 1082. This is the formula
- 1083. for a nation or a kingdom decline.
- 1084. For no kingdom can
maintain itself by force alone.
- 1085. Force does not work the way its
advocates think in fact it does.
- 1086. It does not, for example,
- 1087. reveal to the victim
the strength of the adversary.
- 1088. On the contrary, it reveals the weakness,
- 1089. even the panic of the adversary.
- 1090. And this revelation
invests the victim with passion.
- 1091. There is a day in Palm Springs
- 1092. that I will remember forever,
a bright day.
- 1093. I was based in Hollywood,
working on the screen version
- 1094. of the autobiography of Malcolm X.
- 1095. This was a difficult assignment,
- 1096. since I had known Malcolm, after all,
- 1097. crossed swords with him,
- 1098. worked with him,
- 1099. and held him in that great esteem
- 1100. which is not easily distinguishable,
- 1101. if it is distinguishable,
- 1102. from love.
- 1103. Billy Dee Williams had come to town
- 1104. and he was staying at the house.
- 1105. I very much wanted Billy Dee
for the role of Malcolm.
- 1106. The phone had been
brought out to the pool,
- 1107. and now it rang.
- 1108. And I picked up.
- 1109. The record player was still playing.
- 1110. "He's not dead yet,
but it's a head wound."
- 1111. I have some very sad news for all of you,
- 1112. and I think sad news
for all our fellow citizens
- 1113. and people who love peace
all over the world.
- 1114. And that is that Martin Luther King
- 1115. was shot and was killed tonight.
- 1116. I hardly remember
the rest of the evening at all.
- 1117. I remember weeping, briefly,
- 1118. more in helpless rage than in sorrow,
- 1119. and Billy trying to comfort me.
- 1120. But I really don't remember
that evening at all.
- 1121. The church was packed.
- 1122. In the pew before me sat Marlon Brando,
- 1123. Sammy Davis, Eartha Kitt.
- 1124. Sidney Poitier nearby.
- 1125. I saw Harry Belafonte
sitting next to Coretta King.
- 1126. I have a childhood hand over thing
- 1127. about not weeping in public.
- 1128. And I was concentrating
on holding myself together.
- 1129. I did not want to weep for Martin.
- 1130. Tears seemed futile.
- 1131. But I may also have been afraid,
- 1132. and I could not have been the only one,
- 1133. that if I began to weep,
I would not be able to stop.
- 1134. I started to cry, and I stumbled.
- 1135. Sammy grabbed my arm.
- 1136. The story of the Negro in America
- 1137. is the story of America.
- 1138. It is not a pretty story.
- 1139. What can we do?
- 1140. Well, I am tired.
- 1141. I don't know how it will come about,
- 1142. I know that no matter how it comes about,
- 1143. it will be bloody, it will be hard.
- 1144. I still believe that we can do
with this country
- 1145. something that has not been done before.
- 1146. We are misled here
because we think of numbers.
- 1147. You don't need numbers, you need passion.
- 1148. And this is proven
by the history of the world.
- 1149. The tragedy is that most of the people
- 1150. who say they care about it do not care.
- 1151. What they care about is
their safety and their profits.
- 1152. The American way of life
- 1153. has failed to make people happier,
- 1154. or make them better.
- 1155. We do not want to admit this,
and we do not admit it.
- 1156. We persist in believing
- 1157. that the empty and criminal
among our children
- 1158. are the result of some
miscalculation in the formula
- 1159. that can be corrected.
- 1160. That the bottomless and aimless hostility
- 1161. which makes our cities among
the most dangerous in the world
- 1162. is created and felt
by a handful of aberrants,
- 1163. that the lack, yawning
everywhere in this country,
- 1164. of passionate conviction,
of personal authority,
- 1165. proves only our rather appealing
tendency to be gregarious
- 1166. and democratic.
- 1167. To look around the United States today,
- 1168. is enough to make
prophets and angels weep.
- 1169. This is not the land of the free.
- 1170. It is only very unwillingly
- 1171. the home of the brave.
- 1172. I sometimes feel it
to be an absolute miracle
- 1173. that the entire black population
of the United States of America
- 1174. has not long ago
succumbed to raging paranoia.
- 1175. People finally say to you,
- 1176. in an attempt to dismiss
the social reality,
- 1177. "But you're so bitter!"
- 1178. Well, I may or may not be bitter,
- 1179. but if I were, I would have
good reasons for it.
- 1180. Chief among them that American
blindness, or cowardice,
- 1181. which allow us to pretend
that life presents no reasons
- 1182. for being bitter.
- 1183. In this country,
for a dangerously long time,
- 1184. there have been two levels of experience.
- 1185. One, to put it cruelly,
- 1186. can be summed up in the images
of Gary Cooper and Doris Day,
- 1187. two of the most grotesque
appeals to innocence
- 1188. the world has ever seen.
- 1189. And the other,
- 1190. and denied, can be summed up, let us say,
- 1191. in the tone and in the face
of Ray Charles.
- 1192. There has never been
any genuine confrontation
- 1193. between these two levels of experience.
- 1194. You cannot lynch me and keep me in ghettos
- 1195. without becoming
something monstrous yourselves.
- 1196. And furthermore, you give me
a terrifying advantage.
- 1197. You never had to look at me.
- 1198. I had to look at you.
- 1199. I know more about you
than you know about me.
- 1200. Not everything that is faced
can be changed,
- 1201. but nothing can be changed
until it is faced.
- 1202. History is not the past.
- 1203. It is the present.
- 1204. We carry our history with us.
- 1205. We are our history.
- 1206. If we pretend otherwise,
we literally are criminals.
- 1207. I attest to this.
- 1208. The world is not white.
- 1209. It never was white,
- 1210. cannot be white.
- 1211. White is a metaphor for power,
- 1212. and that is simply a way of
describing Chase Manhattan Bank.
- 1213. I can't be a pessimist,
- 1214. because I'm alive.
- 1215. To be a pessimist means
you have agreed that human life
- 1216. is an academic matter,
so I'm forced to be an optimist.
- 1217. I am forced to believe that we can survive
- 1218. whatever we must survive.
- 1219. But...
- 1220. the Negro in this country...
- 1221. the future of the Negro
in this country...
- 1222. is precisely as bright
- 1223. or as dark as the future of the country.
- 1224. It is entirely up to the American people
- 1225. and not representatives.
- 1226. It is entirely up to the American people
- 1227. whether or not they are going
to face and deal with
- 1228. and embrace the stranger
they have maligned so long.
- 1229. What white people have to do
is try to find out,
- 1230. in their own hearts, why it was necessary
- 1231. to have a "nigger" in the first place,
- 1232. because I'm not a nigger, I'm a man.
- 1233. But if you think I'm a nigger,
it means you need him.
- 1234. The question you've got to ask yourself,
- 1235. the white population of this
country has got to ask itself,
- 1236. North and South, because it's one country,
- 1237. and for the Negro,
- 1238. there is no difference between
the North and the South...
- 1239. it's just a difference
in the way they castrate you,
- 1240. but the fact of the castration
is the American fact.
- 1241. If I'm not the nigger here
and you invented him,
- 1242. you the white people invented him,
- 1243. then you've got to find out why.
- 1244. And the future of the country
depends on that,
- 1245. whether or not it's able
to ask that question.