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We Will Shoot Back


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Reconstructs the use of armed resistance by Black activists and supporters in Mississippi to challenge racist terrorism, segregation, and fight for human rights and political empowerment

Table of Contents

ContentsAcknowledgments ixIntroduction 11. Terror and Resistance: Foundations of the Civil 11Rights Insurgency2. "I'm Here, Not Backing Up": Emergence of Grassroots 27Militancy and Armed Self-Defense in the 1950s3. "Can't Give Up My Stuff ": Nonviolent Organizations 50and Armed Resistance4. "Local People Carry the Day": Freedom Summer 83and Challenges to Nonviolence in Mississippi5. "Ready to Die and Defend": Natchez and the Advocacy 121and Emergence of Armed Resistance in Mississippi6. "We Didn't Turn No Jaws": Black Power, Boycotts, 145and the Growing Debate on Armed Resistance7. "Black Revolution Has Come": Armed Insurgency, Black 173Power, and Revolutionary Nationalism in the Mississippi Freedom Struggle8. "No Longer Afraid": The United League, Activist 211Litigation, Armed Self-Defense, and Insurgent Resilience in Northern MississippiConclusion: Looking Back So We Can Move Forward 254Notes 261Index 305About the Author 339

About the Author

Akinyele Omowale Umoja is Professor and Chair of the Department of African-American studies at Georgia State University, where he teaches courses on the history of the civil rights and Black Power movements and other social movements. He has been a community activist for over 40 years.


"Akinyele Umoja's marvelously rich and exhaustive study of Mississippi will radically transform the debate about the role of nonviolence within the civil rights movement, proving that armed self-defense actually saved lives, reduced terrorist attacks on African American communities, and laid the foundation for unparalleled community solidarity. We Will Shoot Back is decidedly not a romantic celebration of gun culture, but a sometimes sobering, sometimes beautiful story of self-reliance and self-determination and a people's capacity to sustain a movement against all odds." Robin D. G. Kelley, author of Freedom Dreams: The Black Radical Imagination "Ranging from Reconstruction to the Black Power period, this thoroughly and creatively researched book effectively challenges long-held beliefs about the Black Freedom Struggle. It should make it abundantly clear that the violence/nonviolence dichotomy is too simple to capture the thinking of Black Southerners about the forms of effective resistance." Charles M. Payne, Frank P. Hixon Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago "Timely and timeless... Expands our understanding of the hidden narratives of Mississippi's black armed resistance groups scattered through generations." Kathleen Cleaver, Senior Lecturer and Research Fellow, Emory Law School

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