From the 1950s until 1961, NAACP chapter leader Robert F. Williams fought hard for equality.
While he was down for civil demonstrations and peaceful protest, one thing he refused to be was a sitting duck.
Williams was the first outspoken leader to advocate for gun ownership among Black communities as protection against racial violence.
He secured an NRA charter specifically to organize a rifle club known as the Black Armed Guard. These 60 brothers had weapons ready to use against lynch mobs looking for a fight.
By 1962, Williams had a lot to say about our level of protection (or altogether lack thereof) under U.S. laws.
In his book “Negroes With Guns,” he declared that “where the law is unable, or unwilling, to enforce order, the citizens can and must act in self-defense against lawless violence.”
This philosophy was adopted by other activists in communities where KKK violence was particularly prevalent.
“Negroes With Guns” is cited as the inspiration for the arms-bearing policies of the Black Panther Party as well as similar Black militias such as the Deacons of Defense (with chapters across Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi).
Most importantly, Williams's action plan empowered more Black people to keep fighting for justice and equality by keeping them out of harm’s way when law enforcement lacked a sense of responsibility to do so.