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Both Parties Have Betrayed Us, 1972

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The National Black Political Convention, which met in Gary, Indiana in 1972, produced a Nationa Black Political Agenda. Calling for actions in the areas of political and economic empowerment, human and rural development, foreign policy, environmental protection and planning, community development, communications, and self-determination for the District of Columbia, the Agenda defined a future path for black political efforts.

The agenda's introduction explains some of the reasoning behind its creation, including the belief that white political institutions have never served black Americans.


The Black Agenda is addressed primarily to Black people in America. It is our attempt to define some of the essential changes which must take place in this land as we and our children move to self-determination and true independence. It assumes that no truly basic change for our benefit takes place in Black or white America unless we Black people organize to initiate that change. It assumes that we must have some essential agreement on overall goals, even though we may differ on many specific strategies. Therefore, this is our initial statement of goals and directions, our first definition of some crucial issues around which Black people must organize and move in 1972 and beyond. Anyone who claims to be serious about the survival and liberation of Black people must be serious about the implementation of the Black Agenda...

White Realities, Black Choice
A Black political convention, indeed all truly Black politics must begin from this truth: The American system does not work for the masses of our people, and it cannot be made to work without radical fundamental change. (Indeed, this system does not really work in favor of the humanity of anyone in America.)...

Both Parties Have Betrayed Us
Here at Gary, let us never forget that while the times and the names and the parties have continually changed, one truth has faced us insistently, never changing: Both parties have betrayed us whenever their interests conflicted with ours (which was most of the time), and whenever our forces were unorganized and dependent, quiescent and compliant. Nor should this be surprising, for by now we must know that the American political system, like all other white institutions in America, was designed to operate for the benefit of the white race: It was never meant to do anything else...

...Here at Gary we are faithful to the best hopes of our fathers and our people if we move for nothing less than a politics which places community before individualism, love before sexual exploitation, a living environment before profits, peace before war, justice before unjust "order", and morality before expediency.

This is the society we need, but we delude ourselves here at Gary if we think that change can be achieved without organizing the power, the determined national Black power, which is necessary to insist upon such change, to create such change, to seize change...

Source: National Black Political Agenda, 1972. Reprinted in The Black Panther weekly newspaper, volume 8, no. 6.

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