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Visiting Martin Luther King Jr. at the peak of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, journalist William Worthy almost sat on a loaded pistol. Just for self defense, King assured him. It was not the only weapon King kept for such a purpose; one of his advisors remembered the reverends Montgomery, Alabama home as an arsenal. Like King, many ostensibly nonviolent civil rights Visiting Martin Luther King Jr. at the peak of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, journalist William Worthy almost sat on a loaded pistol. “Just for self defense,” King assured him. It was not the only weapon King kept for such a purpose; one of his advisors remembered the reverend’s Montgomery, Alabama home as “an arsenal.” Like King, many ostensibly “nonviolent” civil rights activists embraced their constitutional right to self-protection—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.


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Visiting Martin Luther King Jr. at the peak of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, journalist William Worthy almost sat on a loaded pistol. Just for self defense, King assured him. It was not the only weapon King kept for such a purpose; one of his advisors remembered the reverends Montgomery, Alabama home as an arsenal. Like King, many ostensibly nonviolent civil rights Visiting Martin Luther King Jr. at the peak of the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott, journalist William Worthy almost sat on a loaded pistol. “Just for self defense,” King assured him. It was not the only weapon King kept for such a purpose; one of his advisors remembered the reverend’s Montgomery, Alabama home as “an arsenal.” Like King, many ostensibly “nonviolent” civil rights activists embraced their constitutional right to self-protection—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.

30 review for This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible

  1. 4 out of 5

    Robert Wood

    I initially looked at the reviews of the book at amazon before I started reading, and it's pretty clear that the book is being embraced by some in the gun rights movement as a vindication of their political positions. However, this strikes me as a profound misunderstanding of the book. Rather than attempting to intervene in those particular debates, the text is primarily a critique of the dominant image of the civil rights movement, examining it as a top down phenomenon, tied to a small group of I initially looked at the reviews of the book at amazon before I started reading, and it's pretty clear that the book is being embraced by some in the gun rights movement as a vindication of their political positions. However, this strikes me as a profound misunderstanding of the book. Rather than attempting to intervene in those particular debates, the text is primarily a critique of the dominant image of the civil rights movement, examining it as a top down phenomenon, tied to a small group of spectacular images and charismatic men. Instead, Cobb brings the idea of armed self defense to look at how the civil rights movement could only be understood within the context of the larger Black freedom movement, and the self-organization of tenant farmers, former veterans and other groups and individuals who had no particular investment in the tactic of non-violence. Starting with a history of Black armed self defense from the beginning of U.S. history, Cobb maps out how these older groups were able to cooperate and organize with the newer non-violent civil rights movement to form a powerful social movement that was embedded into the everyday life of their communities. Cobb argues that the civil rights movement could not have succeeded without these organizations, and at the same time, these organizations recognized the importance of the non-violent movements despite their unwillingness to embrace their commitment to non-violence. In addition, despite the immense power of these forms of social organization, Cobb does not present the end of these movements in a triumphant light, capturing the ambiguities and sense of loss with the end of the movement, despite it's immense effect on the social structures it attempted to overthrow. In a certain sense, you could think of the text as operating within the long tradition of the genre of history from below more than anything else. It's very readable, as well. I highly recommend this text.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kbullock

    On the positive side, this is an essential contribution to the literature of the Civil Rights movement, by someone who was there. Cobb documents the crucial role that armed self defense played in protecting the "nonviolent" actors from the threatened and actual violence of the Klan. Reliance on armed self defense was not foolproof, as the murder of Medgar Evers proved, but it deterred the Klansmen on enough occasions to create space for some genuine progress. Now for the other side. Cobb is a On the positive side, this is an essential contribution to the literature of the Civil Rights movement, by someone who was there. Cobb documents the crucial role that armed self defense played in protecting the "nonviolent" actors from the threatened and actual violence of the Klan. Reliance on armed self defense was not foolproof, as the murder of Medgar Evers proved, but it deterred the Klansmen on enough occasions to create space for some genuine progress. Now for the other side. Cobb is a skillful writer, but it appears that the book was a project that was written in fits and starts and never properly edited. The structure is frustrating. It is not arranged chronologically, and there are no clearly discernible themes in the chapters either. The repetition is annoying at times. For instance, on three occasions, Cobb mentions the notorious murders of CORE field organizers Schwerner, Chaney, and Goodman near Philadelphia, Mississippi, in June 1964. Each time, he brings up the murders as if he had not discussed them before. In the second half of the book, Cobb loses his way until the final chapter, where he finally addresses the attitudes of Martin Luther King and Stokely Carmichael in the debate between non-violence and armed self defense. Oddly, Cobb bemoans the two-dimensional treatment that King and Carmichael receive in today's collective memory, even after neglecting them for most of his book. In the Epilogue and the Afterword (yes, the book features both), Cobb drops fact-free assertions such as this: "We have also become more warlike as a nation, and as individuals. Regardless of race or social status, we are now more likely than we once were to settle arguments or react to frustration with violence." I highly recommend the first half of the book, and I wish the author had received the support he needed to complete it properly.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

    I can't believe how much of this was new information to me. Some bits I marked with post-its: "Sheriffs and white posses raided black homes to seize 'illegal' guns and declared that such seizures were not an infringement of blacks' Second Amendment right to possess guns as part of a militia. Blacks faced strong disincentives to own their guns legally, however, because applying for a license effectively informed local authorities - usually sheriffs - that the applicant had weapons. Blacks were I can't believe how much of this was new information to me. Some bits I marked with post-its: "Sheriffs and white posses raided black homes to seize 'illegal' guns and declared that such seizures were not an infringement of blacks' Second Amendment right to possess guns as part of a militia. Blacks faced strong disincentives to own their guns legally, however, because applying for a license effectively informed local authorities - usually sheriffs - that the applicant had weapons. Blacks were prudent enough not to do this, so most black-held arms were, therefore, illegal." "A Winchester rifle should have a place of honor in every black home, and it should be used for that protection which the law refuses to give." - Ida B. Wells, 1892 "If we exclude here the more complex Native American resistance to settlers seizing their land, it can easily be argued that today's controversial Stand Your Ground right of self-defense first took root in black communities." "I wasn't being non-nonviolent; I was just protecting my family." - Hartman Turnbow "It may be that 'nonviolent' is simply the wrong word for many of the people who participated in the freedom struggle and who were comfortable with both nonviolence and self-defense, assessing what to do primarily on the basis of which seemed the most practical at any given moment." "Nonviolent workshops are springing up throughout black communities. Not a single one has been established in racist white communities to curb the violence of the Ku Klux Klan." - Robert Williams "The civil rights movement was about civil rights, not about nonviolence. Nonviolence was a tool in the movement used to create confrontation without hate, without force, without brutality. Yes, all the blood that was shed was ours, [but] we accepted that for the greater good - the mission - and that was not about nonviolence but about change. I didn't go to Mississippi to celebrate nonviolence, I went down there to fight for the right to vote." - Ivanhoe Donaldson "I would back nonviolence if the whites coming down for the summer would go into the white community and preach nonviolence." - Sam Block The only part that struck me as a bit off was the afterward, where Cobb finally takes the time to give his personal opinion on this topic and how it relates to the present. Although I acknowledge it's not my place to act with enough authority to critique a black author, I thought it fell flat in the sense that it focused so much on violence committed by the black community instead of the persisting violence of white supremacy, because that's what so much of the book's content reminded me of. After mentioning gun violence in inner-city neighborhoods, Cobb states, "...it can be argued that violence on a scale much larger than Ku Klux Klan terrorism is the greatest problem facing many black communities today." There's probably nothing inherently wrong with this statement, but my fellow white people say the same thing to claim that white supremacy isn't the problem anymore, that "black-on-black crime" is. There is no follow-up statement about institutionalized racism and poverty causing these conditions or about the violence of police brutality in the communities he's referencing. It feels hurried and doesn't fit with the rest of the book, but I would love to hear different interpretations.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Timothy

    Not so much a book analyzing armed struggle as it is of community defense tactics through anecdotal story telling during the 1940s-1960s. I find many are looking for the former and misunderstanding the title a bit. The author starts off with a thorough analysis of racial construction in the early Americas, and the often ignored violent slave revolts. Later he ties the importance of blacks joining the military as an important tool of armed experience. These veterans were integral to the defense of Not so much a book analyzing armed struggle as it is of community defense tactics through anecdotal story telling during the 1940s-1960s. I find many are looking for the former and misunderstanding the title a bit. The author starts off with a thorough analysis of racial construction in the early Americas, and the often ignored violent slave revolts. Later he ties the importance of blacks joining the military as an important tool of armed experience. These veterans were integral to the defense of the community during heightened times of white mob violence. Specifically when organizations like SNCC, SCLC, & CORE began agitating for voting rights and desegregation. The communities who worked alongside these activists also went to great lengths protecting themselves and their work. This protection often required fire power. Any history of the Civil Rights struggle that leaves out the importance of armed self-defense, its structures, and its ideological impacts on nonviolent orgs is a history left incomplete and/or purposefully revised.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin

    Although mostly for self-defense the civil rights movement in the south did carry firearms. The gun culture in the south is pretty strong and African-Americans were a part of it. Also, this was a necessity with plenty of extralegal violence perpetrated against African-Americans and the civil rights movement the fact that many members were armed made white Supremacists often think twice before attacking. This is a little-told part of the civil rights movement. With a heavily armed right, the left Although mostly for self-defense the civil rights movement in the south did carry firearms. The gun culture in the south is pretty strong and African-Americans were a part of it. Also, this was a necessity with plenty of extralegal violence perpetrated against African-Americans and the civil rights movement the fact that many members were armed made white Supremacists often think twice before attacking. This is a little-told part of the civil rights movement. With a heavily armed right, the left today seems to be doing the same thing they are forming John Brown gun clubs to protect marginalized groups from right-wing violence this is especially true since Charlottesville. I am not a fan of firearms and have never had a use for them but I understand the need for them in certain situations even if I have an instinctual dislike of them. If it likely that right-wing gun nuts are going to have them for the foreseeable future the left needs them as well.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    The Civil Rights Movement in America is often portrayed in basically Christological terms. Martin Luther King Jr. appeared and, with his disciples, began his ministry of racial healing. Though opposed by the authorities, through saintly forebearance and unwavering conviction, he brought healing to the country before dying for our racial sins. History is usually simplified in the popular conception, but in this case it's particularly egregious. This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed is about The Civil Rights Movement in America is often portrayed in basically Christological terms. Martin Luther King Jr. appeared and, with his disciples, began his ministry of racial healing. Though opposed by the authorities, through saintly forebearance and unwavering conviction, he brought healing to the country before dying for our racial sins. History is usually simplified in the popular conception, but in this case it's particularly egregious. This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed is about nonviolence, the lack of nonviolence, and how both of them were necessary. The subtitle is a bit inaccurate too, because nonviolence certainly was the tactic that got most of the press, and indeed that's why the movement settled on it. As one comment in the book states, nonviolence wasn't the end, it was the means--the end was registering people to vote. But sometimes that end required the capability of violence to defend it. There are endless examples listed within of black people using guns to defend their lives from white terrorism, from waiting up at night in the homes of those who put up freedom riders to firing at night riders to encourage them to go elsewhere. A complete conviction to nonviolence would have left civil rights activists defenseless against white people who were perfectly willing to use overwhelming violence to maintain their hegemony, and while a violent revolution would have been bloodily suppressed since the local authorities were resolutely racist and most often the federal government was ambivalent, the capability for violence would sometimes be enough. The book traces the roots of the civil rights movement to violence itself, embodied in the Civil War and the First and Second World Wars. Black veterans returned from those wars empowered by having had to defend their own lives with violence and being unwilling to return to subservience forced on them by the white establishment, and while the brief flowering of freedom ended in Jim Crow when the federal government refused to step in and allowed the slavers to terrorize the black population, the results were different in WWII. Black troops who had fought for freedom in Europe often weren't willing to come home and accept subservience there, and they were used to their lives being threatened and having to defend themselves. Furthermore, guns were an ingrained part of Southern culture. Even if they had been fanatically committed to nonviolence, there was no way that activists from the North could have convinced the people they were living among to give them up. As the book states, locals had to take the lead because otherwise it would have been easy to cast the civil rights movement as a bunch of outside agitators trying to stir up trouble, and the locals certainly weren't going to adopt an extreme version of nonviolence. I especially liked the part about scaring away terrorists by showing up armed and then saying that it had been "nonviolent" because it wasn't like anyone was shot. Martin Luther King Jr. himself kept guns for self-defense, and though he committed himself more strongly to nonviolence as the years passed, increasing white terrorism legitimated the threat of violence as a tactic. The Deacons for Defense and Justice--which I had never previously heard of--were created in 1964 to protect members of the Congress of Racial Equality from the KKK. And who can blame them? There were repeated assassination attempts, some successful, on black leaders. White terrorism was stepping up, and the media couldn't be everywhere to broadcast violence for the world to see. Nonviolence only works against those who are capable of shame and willing to restrain their only behavior. On the local level, and especially in some parts of the deep South, that simply wasn't the case. But where shame didn't work, sometimes fear would. Unfortunately, I wasn't a fan of the actual structure of the book. While the first chapter is about the the history of the South from the Civil War leading up to the civil rights movement and the last chapter is about the growing acceptance of the threat of violence as a viable tactic and the groups that formed to utilize it, the chapters in between are unfocused. They jump around in time and in space, telling stories with no real connection other than the presence of guns. The Epilogue delves into the creation of the Black Panther Party and the increasing conviction that in the face of white intransigence, nonviolence is no longer an effective topic, but only briefly. Taken together, much of This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed seems unfocused, a series of anecdotes told off the cuff that, while fitting a theme, don't fit together in any concrete way. It's a valuable look at an aspect of the Civil Rights Movement that is often forgotten in popular history, but I wish it had been more focused.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    The decision of what to do centered not on the choice between nonviolence and violence but on the question of what response was best in each situation. Most often, moreover, there was very little time to decide. What was always at play was the common sense of survival. Flight when necessary was not cowardice, just as shooting it out hopelessly in the name of 'manhood' was not always courage. Charles Cobb illuminates what you don't read in most history books: that the "nonviolent" struggle for “The decision of what to do centered not on the choice between nonviolence and violence but on the question of what response was best in each situation. Most often, moreover, there was very little time to decide. … What was always at play was the common sense of survival. Flight when necessary was not cowardice, just as shooting it out hopelessly in the name of 'manhood' was not always courage.” Charles Cobb illuminates what you don't read in most history books: that the "nonviolent" struggle for civil rights was secretly, and not so secretly, armed to the teeth with guns. A fascinating history and memoir of a fraught period.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Josephus FromPlacitas

    Some notes (not finished yet): In the introduction, Cobb somewhat undermines the clickbaity subtitle ("How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible," which I wonder if the publishers rather than the author added), saying the book is an exploration of the choices movement activists made under the tensions between nonviolent tactics and armed self-defense. The fact that instances of armed self-defense and resistance resulted in mass destruction of communities (e.g. New Orleans and Memphis in Some notes (not finished yet): In the introduction, Cobb somewhat undermines the clickbaity subtitle ("How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible," which I wonder if the publishers rather than the author added), saying the book is an exploration of the choices movement activists made under the tensions between nonviolent tactics and armed self-defense. The fact that instances of armed self-defense and resistance resulted in mass destruction of communities (e.g. New Orleans and Memphis in 1866, Colfax, Louisiana in 1873), makes any straightforward NRA-fantasy argument about goodguys with guns stopping badguys with guns impossible. Cobb seems to be too honest a historian-activist to succumb to facile thinking. (He even undermines the narrower phrase "Civil Rights Movement," preferring Freedom Movement: a broader description of not only the fight for legal equality but universal social, economic, and cultural struggle.) On page 77, Cobb notes the new consciousness, politicization, and will to resist among black veterans of World War I, where the entirety of the command structure was--up through General Pershing and President Wilson--hardcore white supremacist, and many American black troops were forced to fight in French uniform and under French command out of deference to racist political sentiments. Black soldiers in the war, declared veteran William N. Colson in the July 1919 issue of the Messenger, "were fighting for France and for their race rather than for a flag which had no meaning." The war had exposed more of the terrain of struggle, wrote Du Bois. "There is not a black soldier but who is glad he went--glad to fight for France, the only real white Democracy, glad to have a new, clear vision of the real inner vision of the real inner spirit of American prejudice. The day of camouflage is past." I wonder if the more respectful French treatment of black American soldiers wasn't a significant precursor and cause of the subsequent (or at least I think of them as subsequent, my historical knowledge of pre-WWI emigration to France is nil) expatriate communities of black artists and intellectuals to France. More notes: From pages 88-89: "By the summer of 1961, the Kennedy administration was watching sit-ins, and especially Freedom Rides, nervously--and with no small degree of hostility. President John F. Kennedy and his brother Attorney General Robert Kennedy felt that they threatened their administration's domestic and foreign policy agenda by embarrassing the United States and angering powerful Dixiecrats, and so--in what must be one of the great political miscalculations of the 1960s--they pressed student activists to abandon direct-action protests and work instead on voter registration. They thought that such work would be much more acceptable to southern white power than sit-ins seeking desegregation. Therefore, the Kennedys and other high-ranking administration officials concluded, a voter-registration campaign would be met with less white violence that desegregation efforts. In turn, because voter-registration efforts would be far less dramatic--not likely to be seen on television or on the front pages of newspapers--civil rights struggle would be less embarrassing to the United States as it competed with the Soviet Union for influence with newly independent nations in the Third World--nations that, crucially, were mostly Asian, African, and Latin American. Robert Kennedy offered assurance that money from tax-exempt foundations his family controlled or influenced could be made available for voter-registration campaigns." [emphasis mine] Interesting to note that pressure forces the elites to offer material support, which, with a militant movement pressing against elite liberal interests, can materially reinforce the movement. Cobb goes on to say that many within the movement were suspicious and most rejected the idea of organizing for votes, but others set up a separate, parallel campaign for it. "They also felt that the moral dimension of the movement would be lost to political opportunism. The Kennedys' willingness to help pay for voter-registration campaigns only added to their suspicion, for it seemed like a cynical political ploy, an attempt to use money to divert the movement from the sort of militant, direct-action protest they knew the Kennedys hated. The Kennedy's indifference to enforcing existing civil rights law and their hostility to protests challenging segregationist violations of those laws had already led many in the movement to come to disturbing conclusions: that the administration's own political needs took priority over the enforcement of civil rights law, and that the Kennedys were more than willing to compromise with southern bigots in order to achieve their political goals." Page 141: "Whether or not they owned guns or had access to guns, activists and organizers knew that nonviolence was generally a much more commonsensical and sustainable tactic--one more likely to succeed--than offensive armed action. But armed self-defense was one thing; armed offense was quite another. Recalled Bob Moses: Black people had organized enclaves which they were prepared to defend. Their self-defense was pretty much around a house or church, a meeting place. "Self-defense" in the white community is surrounding the courthouse. They were going to degend the courthouse in different ways. I think of us going to the courthouse [with potential registrants] as a nonviolent offensive maneuver. It allowed us to take the offensive and actually attack. You couldn't go to the courthouse with guns and attack." Page 149: "Although the philosophy of nonviolence was far less familiar than the idea of armed self-defense, it was not a completely unfamiliar method of political struggle. And as the Freedom Movement evolved and the practice of nonviolent activism began playing an increasingly important role, it turned out that these two approaches--so dissimilar on the surface--were in fact quite compatible. Understanding the civil rights movement of the 1960s requires understanding this counterintuitive but vital compatibility." Page 223: "Biographers of King, autobiographies by SCLC leaders such as Abernathy or Andrew Young, and studies of SCLC make no mention of [Mallisham's armed] group, despite the fact that Tuscaloosa's decision to desegregate was a significant victory by an SCLC affiliate. ... One important mission of SCLC's ministers had always been to protect King's public image; if any associates were involved in armed defensive action, the SCLC leadership would not have wanted to broadcast that fact to the world." On page 236 Cobb describes how an interest in international black art, culture and politics was blossoming in the 1960s: "Political expression and debate seemed to be everywhere, breaking down what had been the biggest barrier blocking meaningful black North-South political discouerse: nonviolence. "The idea of nonviolent struggle had prevented northern and southern activists from truly understanding each other's strategies, tactics, and goals." Here he describes a more vanguard-focused leadership model in northern groups, contrasting that with the grassroots organizing model of the southern struggle. Page 237: The way forward remained unclear, as it does today. The freedom struggle continues, in ways at once more subtle and more urgent than the activists of the 1960s. And although the questions of nonviolence and armed self-defense may seem to have receded into the past, they endure in our conceptions of both the civil rights movement and the activism that followed Carmichael's call for Black Power. Today gun rights are remembered as an unfortunate addition to the story of black struggle, one that helped radicalize and ultimately defeat the greatest ambitions of of the luminaries who propelled blacks' age-old freedom struggle to new heights at midcentury. Furthermore, the issue of gun rights has largely come to be associated with the conservative white Right, and far too often the concept of 'standing one's ground' is invoked to defend the murder of a black person. But there was a time when people on both sides of America's racial divide embraced their right to self-protection, and when rights were won because of it. We would do well to remember that fact today."

  9. 5 out of 5

    blakeR

    I should begin by noting that had I known the subtitle -- "How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible" -- I probably would not have purchased this book to begin with. I was looking for a theoretical discussion of the shortcomings of nonviolence, not a chronicle of the compromises made by nonviolent activists in the Civil Rights era. Because of that ignorance, my rating of the book is necessarily lower than it would have otherwise been. However, this is an excellent history for people who I should begin by noting that had I known the subtitle -- "How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible" -- I probably would not have purchased this book to begin with. I was looking for a theoretical discussion of the shortcomings of nonviolence, not a chronicle of the compromises made by nonviolent activists in the Civil Rights era. Because of that ignorance, my rating of the book is necessarily lower than it would have otherwise been. However, this is an excellent history for people who are curious about the role of guns in the Civil Rights movement. Cobb's writing is engaging, and he's clearly an authority on the matter after his service during the formative years of SNCC. The organization of the book was lacking and it was thus difficult for me to discern concrete differences between the chapters. It sort of goes chronologically but also tended to jump geographically as well. It's fine for what it is. At the end of the day, I wanted -- ahem -- ammunition against people who are wholly devoted to nonviolence. I've been intuiting of late that these advocates are lopsided in their emphasis, and this book did give some concrete examples of the necessity for armed self-defense. Nonviolence advocates love to cite the Greensboro sit-ins, for example, as proof of what nonviolence can accomplish. Yet they tend to omit the violence committed by the NCA&T football team in barreling through the white folks that blocked the door to Woolworth's. Similarly, a big takeaway from the book is just how often the purportedly nonviolent organizers of SNCC, CORE and even MLK's SCLC simply outsourced their violence to community-organized vigilante groups like the Deacons. They couldn't enter these incredibly racist communities without protection, and because their values did not allow them to protect themselves, they had to rely on their hosts to arm themselves (which they had already done and couldn't be dissuaded from anyway) and keep watch. This doesn't strike me as the ringing endorsement of nonviolence that modern advocates tend to sing. In the end, this is a solid vignette of an era that commonly gets misreported in hindsight. The Civil Rights narrative today gets twisted into some of the most frustratingly centrist arguments. These brave, sometimes armed souls were radicals, and they were vilified in their day even as they accomplished a helluva lot. We'd do well to remember it in the age of Antifa and Black Bloc. Don't be the white moderate that MLK (and Frederick Douglass, and Malcolm X, and James Baldwin, etc.) disdained. Not Bad Reviews @pointblaek

  10. 5 out of 5

    Billie Pritchett

    Charles Cobb Jr.'s book is based on an important premise, that if it were not for the ability of black Americans to defend themselves using their Second Amendment rights against violent white Americans exercising their rights, the African-American Civil Rights movement would not have been able to have the historical impact that it did. In This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed, Charles Cobb Jr. demonstrates the various ways in which, for instance, the nonviolent protests when hand-in-hand with Charles Cobb Jr.'s book is based on an important premise, that if it were not for the ability of black Americans to defend themselves using their Second Amendment rights against violent white Americans exercising their rights, the African-American Civil Rights movement would not have been able to have the historical impact that it did. In This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed, Charles Cobb Jr. demonstrates the various ways in which, for instance, the nonviolent protests when hand-in-hand with defence via firearm, especially in the American South. There was no call to proactive gun use but there was a strong belief in the use of guns as a defensive tactic in the movement. An interesting anecdote illustrates the way in which Martin Luther King, the most vocal advocate for nonviolence, even believed in moving around with concealed weapons. He believed it fine to own several guns and keep them for protection. The book recounts how another of the Civil Rights' leaders came to visit King in his home, sat down on a cushioned chair, and noticed some discomfort. One of King's partners advised him to lift up the cushion because there were "a couple guns under there." Not only men like King, but ordinary people, needed guns to defend themselves, their homes, and their families during and prior to the Civil Rights era. Something worth keeping in mind is this. The book works from the premise that the Second Amendment is important to the people of America. It's not making a claim for or against the Second Amendment. That's an issue for another book, another day. But given that the Second Amendment is enshrined in our Constitution, minority groups who are under threat are well within their right to protect themselves. And not only that, minority groups in America have historically done just that, as is evidenced by black Americans use of firearms for protection.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michael Boyte

    Far from the nonviolence/violence dichotomy (or the good 60's/bad 60's approach) Cobb diligently, and rather beautifully illustrates that southern organizers affiliated with SNCC and CORE were only able to use nonviolent tactics in their struggle, because of the tradition of armed self-defense among southern black folks, and in all kinds of ways armed self-defense was able to defend the Southern freedom struggle from the armed terrorism of the Klan and the state. Cobb also dramatically Far from the nonviolence/violence dichotomy (or the good 60's/bad 60's approach) Cobb diligently, and rather beautifully illustrates that southern organizers affiliated with SNCC and CORE were only able to use nonviolent tactics in their struggle, because of the tradition of armed self-defense among southern black folks, and in all kinds of ways armed self-defense was able to defend the Southern freedom struggle from the armed terrorism of the Klan and the state. Cobb also dramatically illustrates how orthodoxy is challenged and mutates through political struggle, how many of the folks who were committed to tactical non-violence would come to embrace more militant liberation politics through the experience of struggling alongside armed sections of the black masses. If there's a flaw to the book, it's that it tends to be repetitive, particularly in the first chapters. The depth and the personal narratives more than make up for that. Cobb frequently states that the combination of non-violent tactics, and armed self-defense was the key to shattering the white supremacist hold on the south; that more openly militant forms of struggle would have been crushed. Sitting 50 years after these events, as white supremacy has captured the white house, and is re-entrenched in the prisons and police departments across the country, this history is searing, and the question of house to smash white supremacy permanently is more pressing than ever.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jo Stafford

    This highly readable book by former SNCC field secretary Charles E Cobb shines a light on a little-known aspect of Civil Rights movement history - the role of armed self-defense by local people in protecting civil rights workers. Cobb outlines the long history of armed self-defense by African Americans in the South, from slave rebellions on, along the way pointing out that the first gun control laws were designed to keep guns out of the hands of Black people. The book contains good overviews of This highly readable book by former SNCC field secretary Charles E Cobb shines a light on a little-known aspect of Civil Rights movement history - the role of armed self-defense by local people in protecting civil rights workers. Cobb outlines the long history of armed self-defense by African Americans in the South, from slave rebellions on, along the way pointing out that the first gun control laws were designed to keep guns out of the hands of Black people. The book contains good overviews of organizations such as Robert F Williams' NAACP chapter in North Carolina and the Louisiana-based Deacons for Defense and Justice. Cobb's discussion of the tensions inside SNCC over nonviolence as a tactic or as a way of life, and how to accept the armed protection of local communities, gives an insight into the decisions that were made on the ground, amid the realities of organizing and working against racism in the face of white supremacist violence. He cogently argues that armed self-defense played a pivotal role in protecting the Civil Rights movement by helping to curb white violence. The Klan, for instance, was less keen to continue its night-riding terror when it was confronted by African Americans brandishing guns. This illuminating book deepened my understanding of the Freedom Movement of the 1950s and '60s, and I strongly recommend it.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Marcus M.

    Like an archaeologist brushing dust off of artifacts that tell unknown stories, Cobb restores a side of the history that has been whitewashed -- how nonviolence and armed self-defense have historically collaborated to accomplish the objectives of civil rights and freedom movements in the United States. This book could easily be used as a call-to-arms for oppressed peoples; however, while Cobb states throughout how nonviolence without armed self-defense could've undermined the movements, he Like an archaeologist brushing dust off of artifacts that tell unknown stories, Cobb restores a side of the history that has been whitewashed -- how nonviolence and armed self-defense have historically collaborated to accomplish the objectives of civil rights and freedom movements in the United States. This book could easily be used as a call-to-arms for oppressed peoples; however, while Cobb states throughout how nonviolence without armed self-defense could've undermined the movements, he responsibly closes with evidence of how arming without the intention of self-defense or the balancing force of nonviolent movements has left the U.S. and global communities unstable. Additionally, Cobb's work reveals how historians have managed to whitewash America's civil rights history by focusing on the figureheads or leaders and from a perspective that the movements were built from the top down. This book departs from that approach, instead focusing on the situation from the grassroots and the bottom up, illuminating a neglected angle.

  14. 4 out of 5

    KA

    Cobb was not only there, volunteering in the rural South for civil rights; he is also an engaging, nuanced writer. This book should help complicate anyone's view of both the civil rights movement and the tactic of nonviolent resistance. I found the chapter on the Deacons for Defense and Justice especially illuminating, as well as Cobb's depiction of the transition from nonviolence as the predominant tactic for civil rights, to "black power," which was often assumed (by whites and blacks alike) Cobb was not only there, volunteering in the rural South for civil rights; he is also an engaging, nuanced writer. This book should help complicate anyone's view of both the civil rights movement and the tactic of nonviolent resistance. I found the chapter on the Deacons for Defense and Justice especially illuminating, as well as Cobb's depiction of the transition from nonviolence as the predominant tactic for civil rights, to "black power," which was often assumed (by whites and blacks alike) to be "militant."

  15. 4 out of 5

    Carmilla Voiez

    This is a fascinating and often heartbreaking account of civil rights activism in the deep south and the importance of armed self-defense in the nonviolent struggle. It focuses on grassroots activists and personal struggles for survival in the face of white terrorism. It allows for a greater understanding of history, the complexities of competing philosophies and small victories won that informed the larger (and better reported) political picture of the mid twentieth century.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Philip Girvan

    This is a tremendous read. Cobb, who was involved in the civil rights movement particularly as it concerned registering voters, gives a compelling account of ways in which the Second Amendment and the southern culture of gun ownership provided the space necessary for nonviolent resistance to work as a strategy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ken Braley

    Charles E. Cobb Jr, a veteran of the Civil Rights Movement, shares a much over-looked part of the history. The role of guns and armed self-defense in the mostly non-violent movement is not a contradiction, but a more full picture of complexity of the movement and the many organizations involved.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Duke Press

    "Powerfully and with great depth, Charles Cobb examines the organizing tradition of the southern Freedom Movement, drawing on both his own experiences as a field secretary with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) working in the rural Black Belt South and contemporary conversations with his former co workers. While Cobb challenges the orthodox narrative of the nonviolent movement, this is much more than a book about guns. It is essential reading." Julian Bond, NAACP Chairman "Powerfully and with great depth, Charles Cobb examines the organizing tradition of the southern Freedom Movement, drawing on both his own experiences as a field secretary with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) working in the rural Black Belt South and contemporary conversations with his former co workers. While Cobb challenges the orthodox narrative of the ‘nonviolent’ movement, this is much more than a book about guns. It is essential reading." — Julian Bond, NAACP Chairman Emeritus "Cobb's long essay format brings the Freedom Movement to life in an unexpected way, shaking up conventional historical views and changing the conversation about individual freedom and personal protection that continues today. . . . A nuanced exploration of the complex relationship between nonviolent civil disobedience and the threat of armed retaliation." Shelf Awareness for Readers "Cobb . . . reviews the long tradition of self protection among African Americans, who knew they could not rely on local law enforcement for protection. . . . Understanding how the use of guns makes this history of the civil rights movement more compelling to readers, Cobb is nonetheless focused on the determination of ordinary citizens, women included, to win their rights, even if that meant packing a pistol in a pocket or purse." Booklist "[A] brilliant book. . . . A serious analytical work of the African American southern Freedom Struggle, Cobb’s book…deserves a prominent place on everyone’s reading list." Against the Current "This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed jostles us outside the ho hum frame of 'pick up a gun' vs. 'turn the other cheek.' Charles Cobb’s graceful prose and electrifying history throw down a gauntlet: can we understand any part of the freedom struggle apart from America’s unique romanticization of violence and gun culture? This absorbing investigation shows how guns are often necessary, but not sufficient, to live out political democracy." — Wesley Hogan, Director, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University "In this challenging book, Charles Cobb, a former organizer, examines the role of guns in the civil rights movement." Mother Jones "Cobb brilliantly situates the civil rights movement in the context of Southern life and gun culture, with a thesis that is unpacked by way of firsthand and personal accounts." Library Journal "[A] revelatory new history of armed self defense and the civil rights movement." Reason "Charles Cobb’s This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed is a marvelous contribution to our understanding the modern black freedom struggle. With wonderful storytelling skills and drawing on his unparalleled access to movement participants, he situates armed self defense in the context of a complex movement and in conversation with both nonviolence and community organizing. Cobb writes from personal experience on the frontlines of SNCC’s voter registration work while also using the skills of journalist, historian, and teacher. The result is a compelling and wonderfully nuanced book that will appeal to specialists and, more importantly, anyone interested in human rights and the freedom struggle." — Emilye Crosby, author of A Little Taste of Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle in Claiborne County, Mississippi "What most of us think we know about the central role of nonviolence in the long freedom struggle in the South is not so much wrong as blinkered. Or so Charles Cobb says in this passionate, intellectually disciplined reordering of the conventional narrative to include armed self defense as a central component of the black movement's success. Read it and be reminded that history is not a record etched in stone by journalists and academics, but a living stream, fed and redirected by the bottom up witness of its participants." — Hodding Carter III, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill "This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed is the most important movement book in many years. Charles Cobb uses long standing confusion over the distinction between violence and nonviolence as an entrée to rethinking many fundamental misconceptions about what the civil rights movement was and why it was so powerful. This level of nuance requires a disciplined observer, an engaged participant, and a lyrical writer. Cobb is all these." — Charles M. Payne, author of I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle "This book will have readers who might have nothing else in common politically reaching for a copy." PJ Media “This long overdue book revises the image of black people in the South as docile and frightened. It tells our story demonstrating that black people have always been willing to stand their ground and do whatever was necessary to free themselves from bondage and to defend their families and communities. This is a must read for understanding the southern Freedom Movement.” — David Dennis, former Mississippi Director, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Director, Southern Initiative of the Algebra Project "Popular culture washes the complexity out of so many things. Charles Cobb works mightily against that torrent. This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed shows that the simplistic popular understanding of the black freedom movement obscures a far richer story. Cobb defies the popular narrative with accounts of the grit and courage of armed stalwarts of the modern movement who invoked the ancient right of self defense under circumstances where we should expect nothing less. This book is an important contribution to a story that is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore." — Nicholas Johnson, author of Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms "Any book that has as its central thesis that armed self defense was essential both to the existence and the success of the Civil Rights Movement is bound to stir up controversy. But Charles Cobb, combining the rigor of a scholar with the experience (and passion) of a community organizer, has made his case. This book is a major contribution to the historiography of the black freedom struggle. More than that, it adds a new chapter to the story of the local people who, often armed, protected the organizers and their communities during the turbulent civil rights years." — John Dittmer, author of Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in

  19. 5 out of 5

    Bob Schmitz

    I saw the author Charles Cobb Jr., a visiting professor from Brown at Duke, speak at the Durham County Library introducing the film, Freedom Summer, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom... about the freedom summer of 1964 in Mississippi in which Cobb was a participant. It was amazing to see the footage of the author and other participants at the time and then as adults. I recommend the movie to anyone interested in that time. In his book Cobbs thesis is that in the civil rights struggle black I saw the author Charles Cobb Jr., a visiting professor from Brown at Duke, speak at the Durham County Library introducing the film, Freedom Summer, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom... about the freedom summer of 1964 in Mississippi in which Cobb was a participant. It was amazing to see the footage of the author and other participants at the time and then as adults. I recommend the movie to anyone interested in that time. In his book Cobb’s thesis is that in the civil rights struggle black people were armed and white people knew it and that these black people often kept the people in the movement safe. There was a distinction between aggressive but peaceful nonviolent protest and defending one's home. He points out that Medgar Evers and his brother when they were chased by a white mob after they attempted to register to vote drew their guns and the mob quickly faded away. He quotes people saying that Martin Luther King Junior's house had many guns to protect his family from harm. Many blacks throughout the history of the United States were willing to protect themselves from the terrorism of white racists by using arms. He talks about the World War I and particularly The World War II veterans who came back from the war having been treated as men in Europe and having shot and killed white men for the atrocities of the Germans and coming back to the US with the new determined out attitude towards achieving their rights. Miscellaneous tidbits of interest: Frederick Douglass 1849 "Slaveholders have no rights more than any other thief or pirate. They have forfeited even the right to live, and if the slave should put every one of them to the sword tomorrow, who dare pronounce the penalty disproportionate to the crime? " Thomas Jefferson thought that orangutans were sexually attracted to black women. He felt the blacks were not fully human. In the Dred Scott decision Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney said it would be unthinkable for blacks to be considered citizens as "It would give the persons of the negro race, who were recognized as citizens in any one State of the Union...the full liberty of speech in public and in private upon all subjects upon which its own citizens might speak; to hold public meetings upon political affairs, and to keep and carry arms wherever they went. And all of this would be done in the face of the subject race of the same color, both free and slaves, inevitably producing discontent and insubordination among them, and endangering the peace and safety of the State.". In 1961 James Baldwin said "to be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” In the Declaration of Independence Jefferson initially excoriated King George III for introducing slavery in the colonies "this assemblage of horrors.” By the end of the Civil War about 1/5 of adult black men to joined the union army and had engaged in 39 major battles by the war’s end thousands of black soldiers were literate. The author quotes many examples through history of slave rebellions noting 250 documented slave rebellions. In the United States not until 1967 were statutes outlawing interracial marriage declared unconstitutional. 380,000 soldiers black soldiers served in World War I and more than 1 million in World War II. The craziness of the of whites after the second world war is shown by a rumor that black maids were influenced by Eleanor Roosevelt and were organizing “Eleanor Clubs” where they would refuse to wear uniforms or work unlimited hour or respond when addressed by their first names and insist on entering homes by the front door. The FBI actually began a formal investigation into the existence of these clubs in 1942. They didn't exist Blackjack Pershing commanding general the expeditionary forces in Europe issued written orders to the French that they needed to treat blacks badly to repress them sternly or they would behave when they came back to United States. To the credit French ignored the document collected all copies and burned them. Cop describes a white race riot 1906 Atlanta in which blacks protected their homes with guns during those riots WEB Dubois took a double barrel shotgun and sat on his front porch. In 1946 Gov. Bilbo of Mississippi said "the best way to keep a nigger from the polls on election day is to visit him the night before.” And now we have Trump as president. Aarrgh.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Edward Sullivan

    Cobb explains the vital role that armed self-defense played in the survival and liberation of black communities in the rural South, during the 1960s Freedom Movement, and convincingly argues how it made the nonviolents tactics of the Civil Rights Movement possible.

  21. 5 out of 5

    David Lucander

    A good enough book about how gun culture and the self-defense tradition applies to the freedom struggle. Given Cobb's experience in SNCC and his reputation for being one of the smartest guys in the room, I was hoping that "This Nonviolent Stuff" would be a definitive piece that added to the fascinating research by Lance Hill The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement of the many writings by and about like Robert F. Williams: Self Respect, Self Defense & Self A good enough book about how gun culture and the self-defense tradition applies to the freedom struggle. Given Cobb's experience in SNCC and his reputation for being one of the smartest guys in the room, I was hoping that "This Nonviolent Stuff" would be a definitive piece that added to the fascinating research by Lance Hill The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement of the many writings by and about like Robert F. Williams: Self Respect, Self Defense & Self Determination and Negroes with Guns and Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power. I'd recommend either of these first if you're just starting to think about the the interplay of violence/nonviolence in the civil rights era. Instead of the capstone book on guns in the southern-based Movement, this is more of a survey text that goes all the way back to Reconstruction - in fact, you'll be a few chapters in before anything in the 19502 or 1960s really gets discussed. Cobb's point: African Americans are not, and were not, pushovers who were cowering under white supremacy. They defended their homes and their honor, but this did not extend into retaliatory violence like house bombings. Occasional wild men could get away with flagrant breeches of racial etiquette, but sadly, many others did not. I also have to say, I really hope Cobb writes a memoir someday. He's got a unique voice and experienced some powerful stuff.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lionel Taylor

    This book challenges the notion that the Civil Rights movements was a completely pacifist movement with all of the modern leaders accepting the nonviolent philosophy of Dr. King. The truth is that the Civil Rights movement was made up of many different organizations and people and all of them approached the work in a different way. This book examines the part of the movement that was not willing to be totally nonviolent and, while they did not advocate violence, they were also not willing to This book challenges the notion that the Civil Rights movements was a completely pacifist movement with all of the modern leaders accepting the nonviolent philosophy of Dr. King. The truth is that the Civil Rights movement was made up of many different organizations and people and all of them approached the work in a different way. This book examines the part of the movement that was not willing to be totally nonviolent and, while they did not advocate violence, they were also not willing to allow themselves to be attacked indiscriminately. The author makes the strong argument that the two sides of the Civil Rights movements the nonviolent and self-defense side were actually two sides of the same coin and that one could not exist without the other. The author also point out the fact that many of the people living in the areas that the civil rights workers were going to help were not just passive recipients of their aid but actively took part in the activities and were more often than not the ones who provided the armed self defense and that the decision to defend oneself was carefully calibrated to fit the particular situation. This is a very good book that focuses more on the grassroots level of the struggle and the practical and philosophical decisions that had to be made on the ground among the many faceless activists and residents in the rural south as they worked to gain their rights as citizens.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Harvard

    Other reviewers here have dissected this book with skill and Im not sure I have much to add. If I was to break down a section that best distills this book, it might be this. Worth Long preferred the term unviolent. In the thinking of this Durham, North Carolina, native, the notion of unviolence offers a way to transcend the fundamentally false distinction between violence and nonviolence that some have tried to impose in their analysis of Freedom Movement work and decision making. Most people do Other reviewers here have dissected this book with skill and I’m not sure I have much to add. If I was to break down a section that best distills this book, it might be this. “Worth Long preferred the term “unviolent.” In the thinking of this Durham, North Carolina, native, the notion of “unviolence” offers a way to transcend the fundamentally false distinction between violence and nonviolence that some have tried to impose in their analysis of Freedom Movement work and decision making. “Most people do not see themselves as being ‘nonviolent’ . . . and most people would not consider themselves ‘violent,’” Long noted. “What’s the path for those who would participate in the movement and not be nonviolent? I’m not talking about labeling; I’m talking about their actions.” Such people would never call themselves “violent” or “nonviolent”; they would treat both choices as potentially viable, and at any given time, which they would choose would depend on what they had concluded about their immediate circumstances.”

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Mishap

    History from the ground up, written by a person who was there, that attempts to re-orient the nonviolent struggle for civil rights back into the context of a society with a gun culture--specifically the Deep South. This isn't a book about armed revolutionaries, but about normal folks who utilized armed self-defense--or, at least, didn't reject that option--but still participated in or experienced the nonviolent struggle. Trying to get away from the sanctified myth attached to Martin Luther King, History from the ground up, written by a person who was there, that attempts to re-orient the nonviolent struggle for civil rights back into the context of a society with a gun culture--specifically the Deep South. This isn't a book about armed revolutionaries, but about normal folks who utilized armed self-defense--or, at least, didn't reject that option--but still participated in or experienced the nonviolent struggle. Trying to get away from the sanctified myth attached to Martin Luther King, Jr. and other brave, important civil rights leaders, Cobb tells the stories of the stories of ordinary people and the voting rights organizers who encountered them. This is a fabulous book, with a rare look at the era in context; that sidesteps the violent versus nonviolent dichotomy*; that brings the people and this period alive for the reader. Highly recommended. +As he discusses in one section: simply because one does not commit to Ghandi-like nonviolence does not mean one is pro or prone to violence.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    The unwritten history of the fight for civil rights, which refuses to shy away from the armed defense of the nonviolent protest movement. Contains a lot of lessons for activists, and some thoroughly interesting (at times terrifying and horrible) stories of the struggle. There's some levity, too; Cobb is insistent on what he calls in the Afterword, "guerilla history" and quotes many big personalities who wouldn't normally find their way into a history of the civil rights battles prior to 1960. The unwritten history of the fight for civil rights, which refuses to shy away from the armed defense of the nonviolent protest movement. Contains a lot of lessons for activists, and some thoroughly interesting (at times terrifying and horrible) stories of the struggle. There's some levity, too; Cobb is insistent on what he calls in the Afterword, "guerilla history" and quotes many big personalities who wouldn't normally find their way into a history of the civil rights battles prior to 1960. It's chock full of those accounts, and that makes the reading slow, here and there, but I highly recommend this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Trescott

    Before Black History Month begins, this is a book to read. This study and memoir by Charlie Cobb goes far beyond the people who are elevated each year. Cobb was there in the worst days of Mississippi of the 1960s and observed how ordinary people carried out their everyday lives in the face of violence and how they connected to the changes around them. These citizens believed in self-defense, protected their property and often the civil rights workers who migrated to the South to help change the Before Black History Month begins, this is a book to read. This study and memoir by Charlie Cobb goes far beyond the people who are elevated each year. Cobb was there in the worst days of Mississippi of the 1960s and observed how ordinary people carried out their everyday lives in the face of violence and how they connected to the changes around them. These citizens believed in self-defense, protected their property and often the civil rights workers who migrated to the South to help change the voting rights laws, and dismantle segregation. This is an aspect of the 1960s everyone should understand.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Wendy Capron

    Not well-organized and Cobb says things like, "Regardless of race or social status, we are now more likely than we once were to settle arguments or react to frustration with violence." He doesn't give a time span for that, so it can't really be fact checked, but I kind of doubt it's true. Nevertheless, he does make his point - it seems like blacks needed every gun (and more) they could get their hands on for most of their history in America. Although it wouldn't have helped the guy whose dead Not well-organized and Cobb says things like, "Regardless of race or social status, we are now more likely than we once were to settle arguments or react to frustration with violence." He doesn't give a time span for that, so it can't really be fact checked, but I kind of doubt it's true. Nevertheless, he does make his point - it seems like blacks needed every gun (and more) they could get their hands on for most of their history in America. Although it wouldn't have helped the guy whose dead body the KKK was clamoring for (they had been deprived of lynching him) so they could mutilate it - and in Monroe, NC! But, of course, there are good people on both sides.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    This basically just explains why non-violent civil disobedience benefitted from the aid of armed intimidation during the civil rights movement. It does a good job pointing out the nuances of non-violence but really just reinforces some of the more naïve ideas about resistance that I thought he was trying to dispel. I just felt like this would have been better if "how guns made the civil rights movement possible" was one chapter in a more comprehensive book about diverse resistance tactics. Not This basically just explains why non-violent civil disobedience benefitted from the aid of armed intimidation during the civil rights movement. It does a good job pointing out the nuances of non-violence but really just reinforces some of the more naïve ideas about resistance that I thought he was trying to dispel. I just felt like this would have been better if "how guns made the civil rights movement possible" was one chapter in a more comprehensive book about diverse resistance tactics. Not bad though.

  29. 5 out of 5

    John Mason

    I am starting to read this book. This shows that it wasn't so simple as being "non-violent," self-defense is not a bad thing at all. It is a right and duty for a person to defend one's self and loved ones from attack, and the Civil Rights activists were no exception. I read some things about the Deacons for Defense. To defend one's self is not the same morally as to attack another person violently.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Austin Gilbert

    The topic is excellent. It's a great look at the civil rights movement from a different, lesser-seen angle, with a bit of the history guns have played in the black fight for freedom from the beginning of slavery onward. It's fascinating, and I strongly recommend it. My only complaints are that it's repetitive at times, and disjointed at others.

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