Why Are “Negroes With Guns” Being Erased from Civil Rights Movement?

In order to participate in the erasure of history, it’s not always necessary to rewrite history, since exclusion works just as well. As we see in the Oprah Winfrey produced film “Selma”, Martin Luther King Jr. and church leaders are depicted as being at the forefront of the movement, while those who spurred church leaders to action are rendered inconsequential.

Of all the movement led actions between 1955 to 1960, church based groups were responsible for only 12%, while student groups comprised 31%. By 1965, church based groups were only responsible for 6% of movement led actions, observed Dog McAdam in “Political Process and the Development of the Black Insurgency.” You wouldn’t know that activists were the engine that ran this movement by watching 21st century renditions about the civil rights movement.

Also omitted from the movement’s history is the part played by armed activists. The documentary on Robert F. Williams (see below) details the role “Negroes with Guns” played in the freedom movement, a story all but erased by those whose desire is to permanently relegate black folk to the disempowered position of permanent pacifists.
BreakingBrown previously recalled the following:

If you read American history books, you’re led to believe that the Civil Rights movement was won by long suffering Christian blacks who turned the other cheek. But as writer Thaddeus Russell notes, the history of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights movement is actually a lot more complicated than that.

 Russell hopes that in the future, schoolchildren will learn about people such as C.O. Chinn, who used armed resistance to get the Ku Klux Klan to back off.

 “Chinn was a black man in Canton, Mississippi, who in the 1960s owned a farm, a rhythm and blues nightclub, a bootlegging operation, and a large collection of pistols, rifles, and shotguns with which he threatened local Klansmen and police when they attempted to encroach on his businesses or intimidate civil
rights activists working to desegregate Canton and register black residents to vote,” Russell writes.

 “After one confrontation, in which a pistol-packing Chinn forced the notoriously racist and brutal local sheriff to stand down inside the county courthouse during a hearing for a civil rights worker, the lawman admitted, ‘There are only two bad sons of bitches in this county: me and that nigger C.O. Chinn.’”
Chinn and others like him were called “crazy Negroes” because they took up arms, but in the end, it worked. They were able to provide a safe space for black performers and force white racists to back off.
Watch the “Negroes with Guns” documentary below: -Yvette Carnell (January 22, 2015)

(You can view more of her posts here.

You can purchase the book “This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible” here.

You can purchase the book “Negroes with Guns” here.

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