…two recent books by African-American scholars remind us that King’s pacifist civil disobedience actions were often backed up by battalions of now-forgotten gun-toting black men (and some women) who served as (mostly) discreet bodyguards to civil rights workers throughout the South:
Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms by Nicholas Johnson of Fordham Law School, and This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible by Freedom Summer veteran Charles E. Cobb Jr.
These groups—particularly the Deacons for Defense and Justice—often comprised WWII vets who’d killed white racists abroad in the name of freedom and democracy, and were therefore less reluctant to do so at home.
Contrary to the image glorified in numberless PBS documentaries and Hollywood movies—and in defiance of racist “gun control” legislation—many black SNCC, NAACP, SCLC, and CORE field organizers carried firearms, while continuing to promote their organizations as “officially” nonviolent. They feared, correctly, that if their biggest donors—Northern white liberals—found out they were armed, the money would dry up.
I’ve been bitching about the Civil Rights Act for a while…