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Black power advocate speaks on race

Posted By Denebola On February 15, 2011 @ 8:05 am In 50th Edition,News | Comments Disabled

By Larry Adelman, Volume 8
October 16, 1968

Dick Gregory, black power advocate and candidate for President, spoke at Newton High on Friday, October 11, and placed the problem of race relations squarely upon the backs of whites, all over the United States.
His oratory touched upon many areas of race relations, but had no discernable organization. He led off with a joke: “I love football – it’s the only sport where a black cat can chase a white cat and twenty thousand people get up and cheer.”
He then proceeded to describe America as “the most immoral, corrupt, insane nation in the world,” and described American morality as consisting of “a Brooks Brothers suit, a clean shave, and a hair cut once a week.” He compared the hippies in Chicago during the Democratic convention, and the Shriners who were there at about the same time: “Who is more immoral, the hippies and yippies, or the Shriners who use the prostitutes?” Yet, he continued, the hippies are regarded as immoral, only because they want to change a corrupt and repressive system.
Gregory drew frequent parallels between the black struggle for freedom and a similar American struggle in 1775. He read a section of the Declaration of Independence which states that it is the duty of men to overthrow their government if it is repressive and unresponsive. His parallels were convincing, to say the least.
Gregory made frequent reference to the Constitution, urging his audience to read it and discover just what blacks want from America. At present, he explained, America is ruled not by that document but by capitalism, examples being Vietnam and the lack of adequate gun control measures.
Mr. Gregory did not openly to endorse violence by blacks, but excused it as a product of negro unwillingness to wait for freedom. He pointed out that the Indians have been the epitome of nonviolence, yet have made less progress than their black brothers. Throughout the speech, Gregory told his young audience that “you will have to solve the problems of America…problems that you didn’t even create.”
Gregory made his stand clear on two issues beside race relations. He favors an immediate withdrawal from Vietnam, and denounced the three major candidates as apostles of repression who talk about law and order, but will not touch the crime syndicate.
A question and answer period followed, during which Gregory was asked of solutions for the ghettoes. He replied that education, welfare, and job programs were of no use. Equality will not come until the white man frees the Indian, the Mexican-American, and the Jew. Only then will the white man be trusted.
He urged people to stop talking about civil rights and talk about the “human rights which are guaranteed by the Constitution.”
Gregory observed that “black and white are not two colors; they are attitudes…Youth is not an age; it is a way of thinking.”
Gregory wore matching pants and shirt, an army jacket, and a thick beard. He skipped from topic to topic and spoke in casual language, letting the hells and dams fall where they may. His speech was laced with humor and sarcasm. He spoke of violent change, of overthrowing a corrupt society.
The evening was concluded when Gregory answered the question most often asked by white liberals: “What can I do to help?” The former comedian replied that whites cannot help and are not wanted by the black unless they are radical. Otherwise, he concluded, they will not be trusted.

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[1] Right on Corner: Black is a concept: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/right-on-corner-black-is-a-concept/

[2] Race and prejudice: Tension underlies school life: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/race-and-prejudice-tension-underlies-school-life/

[3] Old Possums’s Book of Practical Cats: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/03/19/old-possumss-book-of-practical-cats/

[4] Race Week encourages conversation, stirs emotions: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2010/04/14/race-week-encourages-conversation-stirs-emotions/

[5] Coexistence: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2011/02/15/coexistence/

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