How Armed Black Southerners Helped Fight for Civil Rights

June 6, 2014

An important side of the civil rights movement that must be learned and discussed. It’s a history that’s been ignored for far too long.

Most history students never learn that even Martin Luther King Jr.—arguably history’s greatest spokesperson on behalf of nonviolence—had armed guards stationed outside of his home and a pistol tucked in his sofa in 1955 when he emerged as the leader of the bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala.

But he did.

As time went on, he came to trust in the philosophy of nonviolence in his personal life as much as he believed in its power politically, and eventually got rid of both the guards and guns. At some point, though, we glossed over this complexity and began to think of nonviolence as preordained and as a natural outgrowth of the movement.

We don’t teach our children about the training civil rights activists had to endure in order to prepare their minds and bodies for nonviolent protests. And we don’t often think about how the movement functioned in rural places, far from the glare of the spotlights of network news cameras. Outside of the national gaze, what might check the violence of white segregationists who resisted every attempt by black citizens to assert their right to vote and to organize politically? How did the movement work in the face of the violence in rural Union County, N.C.; Lowndes County, Ala.; or Sunflower County, Miss.?

That’s the story masterfully told by Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee field secretary and now journalist Charles Cobb in his challenging and important new narrative, This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible, which adds to a growing list of important histories that expand what we know about the way organizing had to work in rural communities.

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I Am Troy Davis

September 21, 2013

It was two years ago today that a monstrous miscarriage of justice was committed by the state of Georgia as its unrelenting pursuit to execute Troy Davis finally came to fruition.

Troy was executed even though there was no DNA evidence and no weapon that linked him to the murder that was committed. The majority of the witnesses in his case recanted their testimony against Troy because, as they explained, they were pressured and threatened by the police to give false testimony.

Troy Davis will never be forgotten.

The best way to honor him today is to fight to end the death penalty.

Troy Davis’ life and struggle against the death machine in Georgia and in the US will be vindicated one day when in our society it will no longer be possible to execute another human being.


The Trials of Muhammad Ali

August 21, 2013


July 14, 2013

The justice system does not work for us.

There is no justice to be found for blacks, latinos, and all people of color in US courts.

The justice system does not work for us.

It never has and it never will.

The US justice system does not operate in a vacuum.

The justice system is racist and unequal because it is part of a deeply racist and unequal society.

More discussions, more protests, and more attempts for reforms will not fundamentally change a system that is rotten to the core.

That’s been the call for many, many years, and things still remain the same.

It will never work.

US Society and US Courts do not recognize the value and rights of black lives.

It has been that way from the beginning of US history and continues to be a daily reality, through out the years, decades, and centuries.

Right up until now, in 2013.

What happened in that Sanford court today is a daily reality for all people of color.

This reality doesn’t lessen the pain and it doesn’t contain the outrage felt about this latest miscarriage of justice.

The absolute truth about our civil rights and human rights as manifested every day, in every court, in every state, always has been and is still the same:

The justice system does not work for us.

Gideon’s Army

June 27, 2013

Sister Helen Prejean’s ongoing fight against the death penalty

June 20, 2013

Medgar Evers Legacy Lives On

June 6, 2013

Paying Tribute to a Seeker of Justice, 50 Years After His Assassination

ARLINGTON, Va. — Myrlie Evers-Williams, the widow of the slain civil rights leader Medgar Evers, said her husband was a man who saw a job that needed to be done, and he answered the call, “not just for his people but for all people.”

Ms. Evers-Williams and a group of about 300 visitors, including Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and former President Bill Clinton, observed the 50th anniversary of Mr. Evers’s assassination on Wednesday at Arlington National Cemetery, where Mr. Evers is buried.

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