They Protected Their Community Against Violence

Birmingham residents view the bomb-damaged home of NAACP attorney Arthur Shores on September 5, 1963
Leslie Taylor-Grover
September 8, 2020

It was the same thing every night. At nightfall, the KKK would start terrorizing and harassing Black families. The Black community was damn tired of being hunted and brutalized, and a group of Black men had a plan.

Emotions were running high. Malcolm X had just been assassinated and federal legislation had been passed granting protections against mistreatment and discrimination to our people. But this was Bogalusa.

Determined to deny us our rights, the KKK declared open season on Black people, openly harassing and killing us. There needed to be some solution to white violence besides non-violent protesting. But how else could the Black community address white hatred?

Simple: if the KKK was using violence against us, then it was time to give the KKK back the same violence they were heaping on us.  What would it take?

Calling themselves the Deacons for Defense and Justice, many Black men quit their jobs to protect our people. They patrolled our communities, protected Civil Rights protestors against the KKK, and shot at violent corrupt police who brutalized Black community members. But did this strategy work?

The Deacons successfully defended our people against attacks from white terrorists.  True liberation requires strategy. When times call for the use of retaliation, we must defend our lives and communities by any means necessary.

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