In this Book

"Ranging from Reconstruction to the Black Power period, this thoroughly and creatively researched book effectively challenges long-held beliefs about the Black Freedom Struggle. It should make it abundantly clear that the violence/nonviolence dichotomy is too simple to capture the thinking of Black Southerners about the forms of effective resistance."
—Charles M. Payne, University of Chicago 
The notion that the civil rights movement in the southern United States was a nonviolent movement remains a dominant theme of civil rights memory and representation in popular culture. Yet in dozens of southern communities, Black people picked up arms to defend their leaders, communities, and lives. In particular, Black people relied on armed self-defense in communities where federal government officials failed to safeguard activists and supporters from the violence of racists and segregationists, who were often supported by local law enforcement. 
In We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement, Akinyele Omowale Umoja argues that armed resistance was critical to the efficacy of the southern freedom struggle and the dismantling of segregation and Black disenfranchisement. Intimidation and fear were central to the system of oppression in Mississippi and most of the Deep South. To overcome the system of segregation, Black people had to overcome fear to present a significant challenge to White domination. Armed self-defense was a major tool of survival in allowing some Black southern communities to maintain their integrity and existence in the face of White supremacist terror. By 1965, armed resistance, particularly self-defense, was a significant factor in the challenge of the descendants of enslaved Africans to overturning fear and intimidation and developing different political and social relationships between Black and White Mississippians. 
This riveting historical narrative relies upon oral history, archival material, and scholarly literature to reconstruct the use of armed resistance by Black activists and supporters in Mississippi to challenge racist terrorism, segregation, and fight for human rights and political empowerment from the early 1950s through the late 1970s.
Akinyele Omowale Umoja is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of African-American Studies at Georgia State University, where he teaches courses on the history of the Civil Rights, Black Power, and other social movements. 

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. p. 1
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
  2. pp. 2-7
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Contents
  2. pp. vii-viii
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Acknowledgments
  2. pp. ix-xii
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-10
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 1. Terror and Resistance: Foundations of the Civil Rights Insurgency
  2. pp. 11-26
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 2. “I’m Here, Not Backing Up”: Emergence of Grassroots Militancy and Armed Self-Defense in the 1950s
  2. pp. 27-49
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 3. “Can’t Give Up My Stuff”: Nonviolent Organizations and Armed Resistance
  2. pp. 50-95
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 4. “Local People Carry the Day”: Freedom Summer and Challenges to Nonviolence in Mississippi
  2. pp. 96-120
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 5. “Ready to Die and Defend”: Natchez and the Advocacy and Emergence of Armed Resistance in Mississippi
  2. pp. 121-144
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 6. “We Didn’t Turn No Jaws”: Black Power, Boycotts, and the Growing Debate on Armed Resistance
  2. pp. 145-172
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 7. “Black Revolution Has Come”: Armed Insurgency, Black Power, and Revolutionary Nationalism in the Mississippi Freedom Struggle
  2. pp. 173-210
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. 8. “No Longer Afraid”: The United League, Activist Litigation, Armed Self-Defense, and Insurgent Resilience in Northern Mississippi
  2. pp. 211-253
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Conclusion: Looking Back So We Can Move Forward
  2. pp. 254-260
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Notes
  2. pp. 261-304
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. Index
  2. pp. 305-338
  3. restricted access Download |
  1. About the Author
  2. pp. 339-352
  3. restricted access Download |

Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.