"In 1957, a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which has now justified the presence of U.S. military advisors in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investment accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Cambodia and why American napalm and Green Beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru.
It is with such activity in mind that the words of the late John F. Kennedy come back to haunt us. Five years ago he said, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." [Sustained applause] Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken: the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investments. I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin [applause], we must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life?s roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life?s highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. [Applause]
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.
A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation?s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. [Sustained applause]"
"When asking Negroes to abide by the law let us also declare that the white man does not abide by the law. Day in and day out he violates welfare laws to deprive the poor of their meager allotments. He flagrantly violates building codes and housing regulations. His police forces are the ultimate mockery of law. He violates laws on equal employment and education. The slums are the handiwork of a vicious system of the white society. Negroes live in them, but they do not make them any more than a prisoner makes a prison. And so let us say forthrightly that, if the total slum violations of law by the white man over the years are calculated and compared with the lawbreaking of a few days of riots, the hardened criminal would handily be the white man. In using the term white man I am seeking to describe in general terms the Negro's adversary. I seek not to categorize all white people by any use of the term white man. I think it is very important to say this, for there are millions who have risen morally above prevailing prejudices. They are willing to share power and to accept structural alterations of society, even at the cost of traditional privilege. To deny their existence as some ultra-nationalists do is to deny an evident truth. More than that, it tends to drive away allies who can and have strengthened our struggle. Their support serves not only to enhance our power, but their break from the attitudes of the larger society splits and weakens our opposition. To develop a sense of black consciousness and peoplehood does not require that we scorn the white race as a whole. It is not the race per se that we fight but the policies and ideology formulated by leaders of that race to perpetuate oppression.
In summing up the general causes of riots, we would have to say that the white power structure is still seeking to keep the walls of segregation and inequality substantially intact, while Negro determination to break through them has intensified. I find five basic causes of riots—the white backlash; pervasive discriminatory practices; unemployment; the war in Vietnam; and the urban problems of crime and extensive migration.
It was routine procedure while in Birmingham for us to collect hundreds of knives before the demonstrations began to insure against momentary weaknesses of participants. We know from direct experience that even the intensely violent individual can discipline himself if his aims are served by other means. This experience has been duplicated for us in the North. In Chicago, 1966, when vicious, screaming white hoodlums lined the sidewalks, our guards were, in many instances, young gang leaders and members. These men, who are accustomed to violence and expert in its practice, had they been released from their commitment to peaceful marching were entirely capable of reducing the white bullies to shivering pulp. They were capable of peaceful conduct and iron discipline because they were willing to experiment with us in finding a constructive solution.
Now this leads me to say that we must formulate a program and we must fashion the new tactics which do not count on government goodwill but instead serve to compel unwilling authorities to yield to the mandates of justice. We must demand, for instance, an emergency program to provide employment for everyone in need of a job, or, if a work program is impractical, a guaranteed annual income at levels that sustain life in decent circumstances. A second feature of our program must be the demolition of slums and rebuilding by the population that lives in them. Third, we must make a massive move toward self-determination and the shaping of our own destiny. In other words, we must get rid of the domestic colony which is the ghetto. Fourth, we must delve deeply into the political arena. Wherever possible we must elect well-qualified and committed Negro candidates, as we have in Cleveland, Gary, and in states all across the South. In Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia we have, for the first time, Negroes in state legislatures. We've got to escalate this kind of program, and it is high time that we retire all the white racists who are in Congress. They can be retired if we vote in larger numbers."