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The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement Paperback – February 27, 2006

ISBN-13: 978-0807857021 ISBN-10: 0807857025 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press; 1 edition (February 27, 2006)
  • 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 (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,871 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"

Book Description

"An engrossing, well-written study."--Journal of American Studies

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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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1 of 1 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 James P. Patuto on February 10, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Deacons for Defense story has been buried since the mid sixties. The reasons for this loss are many. The Deacons don't fit the stereotype promulgated by the orthodox civil rights leaders and historians, nor does it particularly fit with the "conservative" historian view that anti-black violence largely was confined to a few terrible but soon overcome incidents [overcome with support of the Feds and the Press]. This book shows how pervasive the violence was and how the African-American Community especially the men, were scarred by the violence, and reluctant to join with the non-violent philosophy of the orthodox movement , as it destroyed their sense of manhood. The author does stretch at times to support his themes, especially the class differences between the Deacons and the mainstreamers, but this story is strong and should be better known. One amazing thing, with all of the hoopla about gun control, I'm surprised the NRA doesn't push the Deacon's story, as it does support the notion of an armed citizen being effective in countering an oppressive government. One can only surmise that the NRA supporters are also supporters of the repression in these instances. Ironic [but I digress].
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