Like King, many ostensibly "nonviolent" civil rights activists embraced their constitutional right to selfprotection--yet this crucial dimension of the Afro-American freedom struggle has been long ignored by history. Read more...
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Like King, many ostensibly "nonviolent" civil rights activists embraced their constitutional right to selfprotection--yet this crucial dimension of the Afro-American freedom struggle has been long ignored by history. In This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed, civil rights scholar Charles E. Cobb Jr. describes the vital role that armed self-defense played in the survival and liberation of black communities in America during the Southern Freedom Movement of the 1960s. In the Deep South, blacks often safeguarded themselves and their loved ones from white supremacist violence by bearing--and, when necessary, using--firearms. In much the same way, Cobb shows, nonviolent civil rights workers received critical support from black gun owners in the regions where they worked. Whether patrolling their neighborhoods, garrisoning their homes, or firing back at attackers, these courageous men and women and the weapons they carried were crucial to the movement's success.
Giving voice to the World War II veterans, rural activists, volunteer security guards, and self-defense groups who took up arms to defend their lives and liberties, This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed lays bare the paradoxical relationship between the nonviolent civil rights struggle and the Second Amendment. Drawing on his firsthand experiences in the civil rights movement and interviews with fellow participants, Cobb provides a controversial examination of the crucial place of firearms in the fight for American freedom.
- ISBN-13: 9780465033102
- ISBN-10: 0465033105
- Publisher: Basic Books
- Publish Date: June 2014
- Page Count: 294
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-04-14
- Reviewer: Staff
In this persuasive long-form essay, Cobb, a journalist who served as a field secretary with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in the 1960s, describes questions of the propriety of gun ownership and self-defense at the grassroots of the civil rights movement as “an intellectual tea party, perhaps momentarily refreshing but only occasionally nourishing.” Southern blacks remembered instead the lessons of Reconstruction: with the federal government largely absent and indifferent, “Black people would have to fight for their rights locally, and unless they protected themselves from reprisal, no one would.” The movement was deeply imbued with the spirit of nonviolence, but Cobb points out that its organizers and activists were guarded from night riders and state-sponsored terrorism by guns and armed militias, without whom progress in Mississippi and elsewhere would likely have been impossible. Cobb’s bracing and engrossing celebration of black armed resistance ties together two of founding principles of the Republic—individual equality and the right to arm oneself against tyranny—and the hypocrisy and ambiguity evident still in their imbalanced application. “If we exclude the more complex Native American resistance,” Cobb writes, “it can easily be argued that today’s controversial Stand Your Ground right of self-defense first took root in black communities.” (June)