Monday, December 19, 2005

Gun Control

I recently read Timothy Tyson's When Blood Done Sign My Name, a truly gripping memoir of growing up in small-town North Carolina, particularly focusing on the turmoil in race relations after some local hooligans murdered a black man when Tyson was 11. Highly recommended.

One small thing that I noticed were the incidents when blacks relied on guns to protect themselves. Here are two relevant passages:
Pp. 55-56:

When Col's Klan attacked blacks in Monroe, North Carolina, a local NAACP president named Robert F. Williams organized black military veterans to meet Klan gunfire with gunfire of their own. . . . On October 7, 1957, Cole led a heavily armed Klan motorcade in an attack on the home of Dr. A. E. Perry, the vice president of the NAACP. Firing their guns into Dr. Perry's house and howling at the top of their lungs, the Klansmen ran head-on into a hail of disciplined gunfire. Williams and his friends fired from behind earthen entrenchments and sandbag fortifications, and sent the Klan fleeing for their lives. "When we started firing, they run," one of the black men recalled. "Them Klans hauled it and never did come back to our place."
Sweet. Then this was amusing:
p. 70:

Beyond the chaos in the streets, white terrorism, especially dynamite bombings, had long plagued Birmingham's black community. But Klan terrorists who wanted to kill the leaders of the freedom movement knew that they themselves might die in the attempt. Colonel "Stone" Johnson, a black labor union representative, organized the Civil Rights Guards, who armed themselves to protect the movement and sometimes exchanged fire with the Klan. Asked many years later how he'd managed to protect civil rights leaders in Birmingham, given his commitment to nonviolence, Johnson grinned and said, "With my nonviolent .38 police special."


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