Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible Hardcover – June 3, 2014
"The Black Presidency"
Rated by Vanity Fair as one of our most lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today, this book is a provocative and lively look into the meaning of America's first black presidency. Learn more
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
[A] richly detailed memoir...”
New York Times Book Review
Cobb's long-essay format brings the Freedom Movement to life in an unexpected way, shaking up conventional historical views and changing the conversation about individual freedom and personal protection that continues today A nuanced exploration of the complex relationship between nonviolent civil disobedience and the threat of armed retaliation.”
Shelf Awareness for Readers
[A] revelatory new history of armed self-defense and the civil rights movement...”
Masterfully told [A] challenging and important new narrative...”
[A] brilliant book A serious analytical work of the African-American southern Freedom Struggle, Cobb’s book...deserves a prominent place on everyone’s reading list.”
Against the Current
This is an important and mind-opening book of recent American history and social change that is still evolving. It will open a lot of minds in America, and maybe even the United Nations, to the true importance of self-defense as a civil and human right.”
The Gun Mag
In this challenging book, Charles Cobb, a former organizer, examines the role of guns in the civil rights movement.”
This book will have readers who might have nothing else in common politically reaching for a copy.”
Cobb brilliantly situates the civil rights movement in the context of Southern life and gun culture, with a thesis that is unpacked by way of firsthand and personal accounts.”
Library Journal (starred review)
Cobb...reviews the long tradition of self-protection among African Americans, who knew they could not rely on local law enforcement for protection.... Understanding how the use of guns makes this history of the civil rights movement more compelling to readers, Cobb is nonetheless focused on the determination of ordinary citizens, women included, to win their rights, even if that meant packing a pistol in a pocket or purse.”
Booklist (starred review)
Persuasive.... Cobb’s bracing and engrossing celebration of black armed resistance ties together two of founding principles of the Republicindividual equality and the right to arm oneself against tyrannyand the hypocrisy and ambiguity evident still in their imbalanced application.”
A frank look at the complexities and contradictions of the civil rights movement, particularly with regard to the intertwined issues of nonviolence and self-defense.... Thought-provoking and studded with piercing ironies.”
What most of us think we know about the central role of non-violence in the long freedom struggle in the South is not so much wrong as blinkered. Or so Charles Cobb says in this passionate, intellectually disciplined reordering of the conventional narrative to include armed self-defense as a central component of the black movement's success. Read it and be reminded that history is not a record etched in stone by journalists and academics, but a living stream, fed and redirected by the bottom-up witness of its participants.”
Hodding Carter III, Professor of Public Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed is the most important movement book in many years. Charles Cobb uses long-standing confusion over the distinction between violence and nonviolence as an entrée to rethinking many fundamental misconceptions about what the civil rights movement was and why it was so powerful. This level of nuance requires a disciplined observer, an engaged participant, and a lyrical writer. Cobb is all these.”
Charles M. Payne, author of I’ve Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle
This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed is a powerful mixture of history and memoir, a scholarly and emotionally engaging account of a dark time in our recent history. This is one of those books that is going to have people from across the political spectrum buying it for different reasons. One can hope that those on both left and right can learn from this book.”
Clayton E. Cramer, author of Armed America: The Remarkable Story of How and Why Guns Became as American as Apple Pie
Powerfully and with great depth, Charles Cobb examines the organizing tradition of the southern Freedom Movement, drawing on both his own experiences as a field secretary with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) working in the rural black belt South and contemporary conversations with his former co-workers. While Cobb challenges the orthodox narrative of the nonviolent’ movement, this is much more than a book about guns. It is essential reading.”
Julian Bond, NAACP Chairman Emeritus
Blending compelling experience with first-rate scholarship, Charles E. Cobb Jr. traces the way that armed self-defense and nonviolent direct action worked sometimes in tension but mostly in tandem in the African American freedom struggle. Crafted with powerful clarity and engaging prose, Cobb’s book deploys the intellectual insights of both everyday people and excellent historians to make the case that it wasn’t necessarily non-nonviolent’ to pack a pistol or tote a shotgun in the civil rights-era Southbut grassroots activists often found it necessary. This is easily the best, most accessible, and most comprehensive book on the subject.”
Timothy B. Tyson, author of Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power and Blood Done Sign My Name
This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed jostles us outside the ho-hum frame of pick up a gun’ vs. turn the other cheek.’ Charles Cobb’s graceful prose and electrifying history throw down a gauntlet: can we understand any part of the Freedom Struggle apart from America’s unique romanticization of violence and gun culture? This absorbing investigation shows how guns are often necessary, but not sufficient, to live out political democracy.”
Wesley Hogan, Director, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University
Charles Cobb, Jr.’s This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed is a marvelous contribution to our understanding the modern Black Freedom Struggle. With wonderful storytelling skills and drawing on his unparalleled access to movement particpants, he situates armed self-defense in the context of a complex movement and in conversation with both nonviolence and community organizing. Cobb writes from personal experience on the frontlines of SNCC’s voter registration work while also using the skills of journalist, historian, and teacher. The result is a compelling and wonderfully nuanced book that will appeal to specialists and, more importantly, anyone interested in human rights and the freedom struggle.”
Emilye Crosby, author of A Little Taste of Freedom: The Black Freedom Struggle in Claiborne County, Mississippi and editor of Civil Rights History from the Ground Up
This long overdue book revises the image of black people in the South as docile and frightened. It tells our story demonstrating that black people have always been willing to stand their ground and do whatever was necessary to free themselves from bondage and to defend their families and communities. This is a must-read for understanding the southern Freedom Movement.”
David Dennis, former Mississippi Director, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and Director, Southern Initiative of the Algebra Project
When night riders attacked his home, twentieth-century Mississippi civil rights leader Hartman Turnbow stood his ground’ and lit up the night to protect his family. Charles Cobb’s stand your ground’ book, timely, controversial, and well documented, contravenes a history as old as George Washington and Andrew Jackson and as new as George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn. Don’t miss it.”
Bob Moses, former director of SNCC's Mississippi voter registration program and founder and president of the Algebra Project
Popular culture washes the complexity out of so many things. Charles Cobb works mightily against that torrent. This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed shows that the simplistic popular understanding of the black freedom movement obscures a far richer story. Cobb defies the popular narrative with accounts of the grit and courage of armed stalwarts of the modern movement who invoked the ancient right of self-defense under circumstances where we should expect nothing less. This book is an important contribution to a story that is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.”
Nicholas Johnson, Professor of Law, Fordham Law School, and author of Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms
Any book that has as its central thesis that armed self-defense was essential both to the existence and the success of the Civil Rights Movement is bound to stir up controversy. But Charles Cobb, combining the rigor of a scholar with the experience (and passion) of a community organizer, has made his case. This book is a major contribution to the historiography of the black freedom struggle. More than that, it adds a new chapter to the story of the local people who, often armed, protected the organizers and their communities during the turbulent civil rights years.”
John Dittmer, author of Local People: The Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Armed resistance to violence - by citizens - helped to keep the Klan in line and provided security to Martin Luther King's marches and other important events in civil rights history.
King and his inspiration Gandhi both believed in non-violence, but they also both believed that people should not be deprived of their ability to defend themselves.
The book offers a part of the historical narrative that the author lived, and that needs to be shared and understood. One I sure as heck didn't learn in very white public schools in the 70's and 80's, but should have. And these were schools that taught well against bigotry and prejudice. And I learned not just about the role guns played in fighting for equality, but about some of stuff that was really happening and how people in the middle of it adapted and overcame (sometimes with firearms, and always with the recognition that there was no situation so bad that a little violence can't make it worse).
This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible: Charles E. Cobb Jr.: http://ow.ly/yODb0
Charles Cobb was a youth organizer in Mississippi during the mid-1960's. While the book is a paean to the 2nd Amendment and it's role in keeping blacks "safer" in those terrible days, it's also a quite personal and historic look at the use and possession of weapons in the Jim Crow South as well as how guns were used to free an otherwise terrorized population.
Regardless of how you feel about guns today, you owe it to yourself to give this book a read, just for the firsthand reporting from the point of view of the terrorized, if nothing else.
But the story of Martin Luther King's "arsenal" can be found in David J. Garrow's Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, 1999. I'm sure it's in other biographies too, that just happens to be the one I've read. Diane McWhorter's wonderful book Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama: The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution explains how Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth's Bethel Baptist Church had long been protected by guards from the Alabama Christian Movement for Human Rights, carrying "nonviolent Winchesters." Shuttlesworth was from a working class background and had even less commitment to nonviolence than King, as well as less willingness to compromise. Of course there are books that cover the topic far more thoroughly, such as ...Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Tough to follow, the author would focus on one scenario then transition to a complete separate one without clearly doing so.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
This book challenges the notion that the Civil Rights movements was a completely pacifist movement with all of the modern leaders accepting the nonviolent philosophy of Dr. King. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Lionel S. Taylor
I learned a great deal through reading this book. I'd recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about the Civil Rights (Freedom) Movement.Published 9 months ago by T. White
This book goes far beyond the issue of gun control. It should be read by anyone who has interest in the Civil Rights movement. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Dkveragas
Good book. Interesting vantage point - the grassroots level that you don't often read about in school books. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
The author and media fanfare that accompanied the release of this book have implied that Martin Luther King Jr. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Bob Estes
A very informative book,I'm 76 yrs old and the book told of a lot of things that happened during my childhood that I wasn't aware ofPublished 11 months ago by robert beebe