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Negroes With Guns

Posted Apr 12 2006

I dug this book so much that I've used it to teach my high school Ethnic Studies classes.

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I dug this book so much that I've used it to teach my high school Ethnic Studies classes.  Williams is one of the many people from the Civil Rights Era who should be getting much more attention but gets lost among the big names of Malcolm X, Rosa Parks, etc. Although he's passed away his contributions to social justice are undeniable. To sum it up, Williams was a supporter of Dr. King's nonviolent philosophy, yet believed in armed self-defense agains the KKK, lynch mobs, and anyone else who threatened his people. In this book, he strongly argues against violence for its own sake or for retribution against Whites, yet makes a strong argument of why armed self-defense actually prevents violence. In fact, he cites tales when guns were involved, yet no one was hurt. In at least one case, racist cops actually protected African Americans. But in general, his argument is that citizens of any ethnicity have a right to defend themselves when the government is unable or unwilling to do its job.

In spite of, or rather due to, his views Williams ends up having to flee the country and spends time in Canada, China, and Cuba, before eventually returning to the U.S. Beyond his own story, Williams documents various events in his home of Monroe, North Carolina, including two African-American boys being sentenced for rape when a White classmate kissed one of the boys. This book is less than 100 pages long and isn't academic so it's a smooth, quick read. There are a few powerful pictures in the book, including the one I posted here. For you teachers out there, many of my students were really interested in this tale and we had some good discussions about what makes someone "hard". It wasn't difficult for them to see that someone who was willing to stand up, by the way of law, guns, and the media, against injustice by the government was more "gangsta" than some fool talking smack about the size of his chain. Thugs and non-thugs alike should check this one out.

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