When black Americans gather to walk in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. this Saturday, some of them will also be walking to highlight the important place the 2nd Amendment holds in the Civil Rights Movement.
While this is not to suggest that only black people will honor MLK this weekend–that would be a silly suggestion–it is to say that they, more than many, understand why it was important to have access to firearms during the turbulent 1960s (and beyond).
For example, consider Charles Hicks. A black American whose father, Robert Hicks, was “a prominent leader in Deacons for Defense and Justice–an organization of black men in Louisiana who used shotguns and rifles to repel attacks by white vigilantes during the 1960s.”
Hicks understands that without access to firearms, the Ku Klux Klan and others would have had their way with black citizens. Thus, he’s coupling “National Rifle Appreciation Day” with the MLK walk.
In other words, this Saturday you can gather in honor of the Civil Rights Movement and the 2nd Amendment.
Former Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice understood this crucial benefit of the 2nd Amendment. Reflecting on her childhood in Alabama, she wrote about the bombing of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963: “These terrible events burned into my consciousness…I remember more than anything the coffins, the small coffins, and the sense that Birmingham was not a very safe place.”
She said she remembers her father protecting her and the rest of the family with a shotgun: “My father and his friends defended our community in 1962 and 1963 against white night-riders [by] sitting there armed. And so I’m very concerned about any abridgement of the Second Amendment.”
The bottom line: Freedom knows no racial bounds. The right to keep and bear arms has been integral to the freedom of all Americans, and it remains so even now.