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The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement Paperback – April 26, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-0807857021 ISBN-10: 0807857025 Edition: annotated edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; annotated edition edition (April 26, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807857025
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807857021
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #136,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"An impressive account.... [A]lso a forceful... challenge to the shelfful of civil rights histories that tell a story in which nonviolence was indeed an essential and defining quality of the Southern movement's success.... An important corrective to popular simplifications." - David J. Garrow, Chicago Tribune "Hill has done a service by rescuing the Deacons from oblivion." - The Nation"

Review

This refreshing and illuminating account documents how militant black men, most of them working class and many of them military veterans, used armed self-defense to supplement nonviolent direct action. Lance Hill treats their struggle with the analysis and respect it deserves and opens a new window into freedom movement history.--Michael Honey, University of Washington

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Robert M. Johnson on July 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent book, a long awaited and much needed factual account of a group of courageous men whose activism had major impact on the movement. Hill has produced a wealth of documentation to prove the history he has brought to the fore.

This account does tribute to those brave and unsung (heretofore)

heroes who refused to further degrade themselves and thier communities by turning the other cheek! Must reading.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Best Of All on January 9, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
you have to speak the language of the wolf." - Henry Austin, Deacons for Defense

This is truly a lost history of the civil rights movement that author Lance Hill has found under the layers upon layers of mainstream narratives which conveniently dictate false truths that - when repeated enough - become larger than life.

Following the organized self-defense philosophy espoused by Robert F. Williams in Monroe, N.C., a small group of men in Jonesboro, Louisiana, founded an organization that had great influence in the civil rights movement of the mid-1960s. The success the Deacons had in defeating the KKK and other haters on the streets by standing up, moving forward and staring them down with guns loaded brought a new sense of empowerment in demanding that justice truly be served today.

Hill explains how he became aware of the Deacons and then began his quest to research the history. Initially founded to protect civil rights workers, the Deacons' influence in the Deep South grew with a regional organizing campaign in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama, along with chapters being founded in several Northern cities.

The success and expansion of the program brought interest from the FBI, coverage by an oftentimes adverse media and linkage - oftenetimes quite temporary - with a number of revolutionary organizations.

But through the comparatively brief time the Deacons operated - about four years - Hill successfully argues that the organization forced the federal government to aggressively enforce the 1964 Civil Rights Act and was the bridge to the Black Power movement that emerged later in the decade.

The Deacons' legacy continues, as former members have strongly stated over the years that the group has never actually gone away.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Kenyatta Woods on July 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book kept me up reading all night. I had in the past heard that their had been a group that pre dated The Black Panther Party, and were operating in the deep south. However there was not much information on this clandestine group. Well there is now. This is the book. My chest burst with pride as the tears fell down my cheeks. If you read nothing else this year please read this book if you want to know what our people were really doing during the "movement". The media had been lying to us about our role in our own history! This book is about us!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James D. Doyle on July 23, 2006
Format: Paperback
An important corrective to the nonviolence theme that domninates most histories of the Civil Rights Movement. The Deacons were mostly home grown Black Veterans from working class neighborhoods in small southern towns like Bogalusa and Jonesboro Louisianna. When the Klan and Police beat on civil rights workers and local protestors the Deacons fought back. In July 1965 when a mob of whites attacked a group of civil rights, mostly children, marchers in Bogalusa a Deacon shot a Klan member sending him to hospital. This incident had a profound impact on the response to Black demands for equal rights in Lousianna. Finally, the White Establishment began to make changes that led to a better life for Louisianna's Blacks. Professor Hill's(History, Tulane Univesity) book is full of such incidents and proves that the Deaon's impact on the souhtern Civil Rights struggle must not be overlooked.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By W. N. Conner on February 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
excellent coverage of a little-known but very important part of the civil rights movement. if you're tired of the conventional view of the crm with everyone on their knees praying, this book is for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By So Cal on November 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book tells the previously untold story of the southern black men who protected the freedom workers. The marketing slogan may have been non-violence, but the reality was that sometimes only force or the credible threat of the use of force kept freedom workers alive.
I strong endorsement of the wisdom of the Second Amendment for personal defense. These were not revolutionaries, but brave husbands and brothers protecting their families. This is a story that needed to be told.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ira M Wechsler on June 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book successfully blows away the myth that non-violence won the day with the civil rights movement in the deep South in the 1960's. On the contrary, the armed self defense strategy of the Deacons of Defense was the only way the anti-racist movement was able to organize under the terror of the KKK. This well-documented study of real people in the struggle of their lives touches the very soul of our humanity. Things are not that different today. The power of the employers, the racist murders committed by the police, the war mongering regime of terror that rules capitalist society all are back in spades. Understanding that organized terror of the ruling class can not be defeated non-violently is an important part of strategy to build a fighting , winning movement to resist oppression and ultimately to impose the working class's will on society.
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