Armed Resistance and the Struggle for Civil Rights
The Spirit and the Shotgun explores the role of armed self-defense in tandem with nonviolent protests in the African American freedom struggle of the 1950s and 1960s. Confronted with violent attacks by the Ku Klux Klan and other racist terrorists, southern blacks adopted Martin Luther King's philosophy of nonviolent resistance as a tactic, Wendt argues, but at the same time armed themselves out of necessity and pride. Sophisticated self-defense units patrolled black neighborhoods, guarded the homes of movement leaders, rescued activists from harm, and occasionally traded shots with their white attackers. These patrols enhanced and sustained local movements in the face of white aggression. They also provoked vigorous debate within traditionally nonviolent civil rights organizations such as SNCC, CORE, and the NAACP.
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