If I did see a white man who was willing to go to jail or throw himself in front of a car in behalf of the so-called Negro cause, the test that I’d put to him, I’d ask him, “Do you think when Negroes are being attacked they should defend themselves even at the risk of having to kill the one who’s attacking them?” If that white man told me, “Yes,” I’d shake his hand. I’d trust in him. But I don’t trust any white man who teaches Negroes to turn the other cheek or to be non-violent, which means to be defenseless in the face of a very brutal, criminal enemy. No. That’s my yardstick for measuring whites.
Any time you tell a man to turn the other cheek or to be nonviolent in the face of a violent enemy, you’re making that man defenseless. You’re robbing him of his God-given right to defend himself.
I think that the Negro should reserve the right to execute any measure necessary to defend himself. Any way, any form necessary to defend himself, he should reserve the right to do that just the same as others have the right to do it.
And I think you’ll find also that if the Negro ever realizes that he should begin to fight for real for his freedom, there are many whites who will fight on his side with him. It’s not a case where people think he’ll be the underdog or be outnumbered. But there are many white people in this country who realize that the system itself, as it is constructed, is not so constructed that it can produce freedom and equality for the Negro, and the system has to be changed. It is the system itself that is incapable of producing freedom for the 22 million Afro-Americans. Just like a chicken can’t lay a duck egg. A chicken can’t lay a duck egg because the system of the chicken isn’t constructed in the way to produce a duck egg. And just as that chicken system is not capable of producing a duck egg, the political and economic system of this country is absolutely incapable of producing freedom and justice and equality and human dignity for the 22 million Afro-Americans.