We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement

By Akinyele Omowale Umoja | Go to book overview

8
“No Longer Afraid”
The United League, Activist Litigation, Armed
Self-Defense, and Insurgent Resilience in
Northern Mississippi

Skip Robinson had just been released from jail, having been arrested on Election Day for disorderly conduct. All the Movement folk thought Skip had been arrested to destabilize the United League’s electoral efforts. I was standing next to him when his primary security person came down the stairs of the Legal Services Office. The young bodyguard said he needed to go home and check on his family. He wanted Skip to come upstairs so he could give Skip his .357 Magnum. Standing on the north side of the main square of the city of Holly Springs, Skip said, “Give it to me right here. I want them [the White supremacists] to know I have a gun!” The young man hesitantly passed Skip the .357 right there on the street.1

The 1970s saw a resurgence of Ku Klux Klan and other White supremacist activity in the South and throughout the United States. The Anti-Defamation League of the B’nai B’rith identified the late 1970s as a “minor renaissance” for the Klan, which “almost tripled its national membership” in the decade of the 1970s. Klan leader David Duke received eleven thousand votes, one-third of the electorate, in a state senate race in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1975. This demonstrated the continued base of White supremacy in some White communities during the decade. A contingent of seventy-five White supremacists, including Klansmen and Neo-Nazis, violently attacked an anti-Klan protest organized by the Community Workers Party in Greensboro, North Carolina, on November 3, 1979. The White supremacist raid left five anti-Klan activists dead and eleven wounded. Although the incident was videotaped, an all-White jury acquitted all six of the only members of the contingent who were prosecuted in a criminal proceeding.2

Local chapters of the NAACP in the state of Mississippi were seriously compromised by a legal offensive from White merchants in Port Gibson.

-211-

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