Kwame Ture, pan-Africanist teacher and leader, dies at 57
January 1999

Black liberation leader and pan-Africanist Kwame Ture died on November 15. Kwame Ture, formerly known as Stokley Carmichael, was a black liberation organizer with the Student NonViolent Coordinating Committee, the Lowndes County (Alabama) Freedom Organization and the Black Panther Party. He is famous for raising the call for "Black Power" in 1966. In 1970 he moved to Guinea and became a Pan-Africanist-meaning he believed in building a united and socialist Africa as a resource and power base for African people all over the world. He was a leader in the All-African People's Revolutionary Party and lectured in dozens of countries. The Black Student Union brought him to speak at the University of Florida for Black History Month in 1996. When he succumbed to prostate cancer in November, he was 57.

A transcript of his speech in Gainesville was printed in the Iguana in February and March 1996. These are available at the Civic Media Center, 1021 W. University Ave., as is his book, "Black Power." When he died he was working on his memoirs.

We thought there could be no more fitting tribute to the man than to study and digest his his words. What follows is a transcript of part of a speech played by the New York radio station WBAI just after his death:

You cannot love someone and not hate the enemies of those who destroy that which you love... We hate injustice because we love justice. We hate the enemies of our people because we love our people. This aspect is even difficult because the enemy has us so confused that we do not love our people we only hate our people and thus it's easy to keep us divided and push violence in the community. This aspect therefore of loving our people must be understood as a really necessary means of reconstructing inside our society the culture which the enemy tramples upon. Of course this hatred for the people is done very simply by replacing the love for the people with the love for the capitalist system. He simply does this by putting money in front of people. We must see the struggle we have on our hands.

We said we have a struggle and we're strugglers. As a matter of fact, we understand that nothing gives anybody advancement in life except struggle, and nothing gives anybody enjoyment in life except advancement in life. Therefore we who struggle know that struggle is the essence of life. We who struggle know that you get your rewards in the struggle. Noone can pay you for working in the struggle.... You get the pay for that in working for the people. Who can pay Malcolm X for taking a bullet for us? Who can pay Martin Luther King for taking a bullet for us? Which of us would not be so honored to take their place to take the bullet for us?

Therefore here we must properly understand that in this struggle to arrive at unity, it's a constant struggle against the enemy who through every means tries to confuse us. We say he will put the question of money above the people. Of course we say all the time that this capitalist system must be fought by all. A man said to me the other day "You're always talking about the capitalist system. It's falling." I said, "Yes it is." He said, well if it's falling why are you fighting it? I said "I don't want it to bring me down." It's going down, but if you're not fighting it will pull you down with it.

It is a corruptive society. It makes you lose all sense of values. Our brothers and sisters who shoot each other in the streets do that for money. Our students who come to university come to university to acquire knowledge for money. Here there is no difference at all. The student may think that they can condemn the brother for the brother shooting for money while they come to school to acquire knowledge for money, but if we were to condemn one the student is more condemnable than the brother in the 'hood. The student has the ability to transform themselves. This transformation can be done by acquiring knowledge and they have knowledge at their fingertips.

Malcolm X showed us a clear example. He entered the prison as a pimp-a pimp. He entered the prison as a man who would sell his woman. Having been touched by the Honorable Elijah Mohammad through the acquisition of knowledge, he came to transform himself. He who walked into the prison as a pimp, walked out the prison as a sterling revolutionary and took bullets for all of his women.

We said, knowledge is a key to transformation. It is no haphazard chance that the capitalist system keeps Africans in this country so ignorant about everything and nothing more ignorant than about our own history. It is not at all haphazard. The job of the enemy is to take away the line between the oppressor and the oppressed. That's his job. His job is to make the oppressed believe that they are part of the oppressor. That's his job. His job is to make the oppressed believe that they have the same history as the oppressor. His job is to make the oppressed believe that they have the same culture as the oppressor. His job is to make the oppressed believe that they have the same interests-as a matter of fact, the job of the slavemaster is to convince the slave that when things are going good for him it will go good for the slave. If it's going bad for him, it will go bad for the slave. It's the stupid slave that believes this. When things are good for the master, it's bad for the slave. When things are bad for the master, it's good for the slave. All the slave wants is freedom--unless he wants to be a rich slave ... and then he's a really stupid slave.

All the slave wants is freedom. When the master is strong and powerful and rich, the slave has no chance. When the master is weak, and on his back, the slave has every chance. If one is not concerned, Africans in America will really believe that when America is strong, they are strong, and when America is weak they are weak. Nothing is further from the truth. When American capitalism is strong, we are in serious trouble, when it is weak, we make serious advancement. Therefore our task is not to support the American capitalist system, but to weaken it at every chance and opportunity we can get. The weaker it is, the stronger we are. I remember meeting with Ho Chi Minh, that great fighter for humanity, in 1967 in Vietnam while America was bombing Vietnam. The Vietnamese said, "We can't understand, why is it that you Africans in America come out in such a strong position supporting us? The others call for peace, but you call for victory against American imperialism." I said, "Yes, when you defeat American imperialism you've helped us because it's weaker. The weaker it is, the better able we are to struggle against it."

Some who do not understand this, they want American imperialism to keep going because they think without American imperialism they can't eat, they won't get a job. That's the job of the enemy! To help the slave become completely dependent on the enemy, not only in actions, but most importantly, in thoughts...

This struggle which is a struggle for unity must take place in the area of ideology. In the area of ideas, in the area of thinking. This is why we say this question of history is not haphazard. The enemy knows what our people doesn't know, power doesn't begin on the level of implementation, it begins on the level of conception. It is how you concieve life that gives you power in life, not how you live life. The Vietnamese, a poor people, a technologically backward people, concieved that they could defeat American imperialism, and they did it. And they did it. They had no technology, America had all the technology. But once you have a conception of life that's properly understood, nothing can deter you from arriving at the conception, we show it all the time.

previous article [current issue]
Search | Archives | Calendar | Directory | About / Subscriptions |

Valid HTML 4.01 Transitional eXTReMe Tracker