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

By Akinyele Omowale Umoja | Go to book overview

Conclusion
Looking Back So We Can Move Forward

I grew up in Compton, Watts, and South Central Los Angeles, California. I embraced the Black Power Movement as a teenager. Malcolm X, George Jackson, Robert Williams, Max Stanford, and the Black Panthers were my heroes. I was recruited into the African Peoples Party and the House of Umoja, two successor organizations of the Revolutionary Action Movement, after graduating from high school in 1972. One of my first introductions to the armed resistance tradition of the southern Black Freedom Struggle was in 1976, when I traveled to Atlanta for a national Black student activist assembly. One of the advisors for our student association was Dara Abubakari (who was called Sister Dara) of the Provisional Government of the Republic of New Africa. Sister Dara was the child of members of Marcus Garvey’s UNIA and a veteran activist in the Movement from New Orleans. I “bummed” a ride from Atlanta to New Orleans with Sister Dara, her son Walter Collins, and a mutual friend, Joe Taylor. Walter was a former political prisoner due to his resisting the Vietnam War–era draft, a SNCC activist, and a leader of the Southern Conference Education Fund. Taylor was serving as the driver and security for Sister Dara. When we drove from Atlanta through Birmingham, Sister Dara and Walter began to reminisce about the campaigns there. They told me that caches of weapons had been buried outside of the city by defense networks. Sister Dara and Walter also explained how armed sentries protected people from the periphery of marches and demonstrations in the early 1960s. I was amazed hearing their stories.

In 1978, my comrades and I invited Skip Robinson and Lewis Myers to come to Los Angeles to speak about the work of the United League of Mississippi. We organized a tour for Robinson and Myers at colleges and universities, churches, and community events in Southern California. I went to Atlanta the following year for a meeting and decided to catch the

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