Negroes with Guns


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WILLIAMS, Robert F. Negroes with Guns. New York: Marzani & Munsell, (1962). Octavo, original black paper boards, original dust jacket.

First edition of Williams' powerful book, "a great influence" on Huey P. Newton and, to Rosa Parks, a figure whose "courage and his commitment to freedom… should go down in history and never be forgotten," in original dust jacket.

"Williams was an architect of the modern black power" (New York Times). Born in Monroe, North Carolina, he served in WWII before returning home in the 1950s, where he became head of the nearly defunct NAACP chapter. At a time when local Klan rallies drew over 15,000 people, "Williams advocated 'armed self-reliance,' a stance that put him at the center of a national debate over strategy within the civil-rights movement… It was not that Williams opposed nonviolent direct action. In fact, he used it throughout his career as a civil-rights leader. Rather, he believed that different situations demanded different tactics. So, while Williams petitioned, negotiated, marched, picketed and sat-in, he also always carried a pistol and organized the Black Guard, a self-defense force that shot it out with the Klan on more than one occasion" (Jones in Film and History Vol 38:1). Suspended by the NAACP in 1959 and targeted by both the FBI and deadly Klan threats, Williams went into exile and in 1962 authored Negroes with Guns, "one of the most telling and important documents of the African American freedom struggle… [it] gives us a remarkably vivid and accurate glimpse of the brutal and authentic political terrain that activists of the African American freedom movement sought to transform" (Tyson, Introduction to 1998 edition, xv-xvi).

To Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panthers, Negroes with Guns "had a great influence on the kind of party we developed" (Revolutionary Suicide, 112). Williams' message "was neither racially separatist nor rigidly ideological… At the core of his appeal, however, stood his calls for absolute racial equality under a fully enforced U.S. Constitution, backed by an unyielding resistance to white supremacy." Following his death in 1996, Rosa Parks stood before mourners at his funeral in Monroe. "She told the congregation that she and those who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in Alabama had always admired Williams 'for his courage and his commitment to freedom. The work that he did should go down in history and never be forgotten'" (Tyson in Human Tradition, 238-44). Edited by Marc Schliefer with his "Editor's Note" and Epilogue. With errata on copyright page. Includes speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr., and "Resistant Spirit" by Truman Nelson. Containing over ten full-page and in-text illustrations.

Book fine; light edge-wear, mild soiling to near-fine dust jacket.

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