In his new book, This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made The Civil Rights Movement Possible, journalist Charles Cobb shows how important guns were not only to leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. but also to many black Southerners who “believed in both nonviolence and self-defense.”
According to The Root, Cobb focuses on “how armed black Southerners helped fight for Civil Rights.”
Cobb examines how MLK kept armed guards around his home and “a pistol tucked in his sofa” while leading the Montgomery Bus Boycott. He laments that “most history students never learn [this].” They never learn that those who fought for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness in the lives of others kept a means of protecting their own lives, their own liberty, and their own happiness close at hand.
Cobb uses examples from his uncle’s life to show how these two things–nonviolence and self-defense–“dovetailed in the minds of black Southerners.” He writes of his uncle’s roots in a Georgia sharecropping communityl of his generosity with people “of all races”; of his opposition to racism, his Christian faith, and his “faith in self-defense.”
Cobb writes that his uncle also “kept a shotgun behind the door”–a loaded shotgun–“like many black Southerners of his generation.”
Cobb uses the language of “stand your ground” to show that those who were fighting for Civil Rights “were often also fighting for their Second Amendment rights, too.”
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