Hill, Lance. 2004. The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press.
Colby, David. 1987. “White Violence and the Civil Rights Movement.” Pgs. 31-48 in Blacks in Southern Politics, edited by L. Moreland, R. Steed, and T. Baker. New York: Praeger.
The plight of in the United States before the Civil Rights and Black Nationalist Movements was characterized by gross abuses, unfair treatment, and subhuman status in many parts of the country. In May of 1954, the handed down a decision outlawing . Thus the civil rights movement began in America. One of the first groups to emerge in the Civil Rights Movement was the (SCLC). The SCLC was the principal activist organization of black churches and ministers which fought the desegregation battles of the and . In many respects, the SCLC southern strategy depended on the very much unintended cooperation of its opponents. For example, in 1963, Birmingham, AL, police commissioner responded to an SCLC desegregation march by attacking marchers with dogs and high-pressure water hoses--all of which appeared on national television.
Black power, on the other hand, invokes images of young men with "attitude" in black leather jackets, armed with rifles and machine guns in urban ghettos. black power is often linked with so-called "race riots". yet black power originated in the south and many of its leading proponents started off in the civil rights movement.
While various self-styled KKK organizations took hold across the South in response to the 1954 Brown school desegregation decision, it was not until 1963 that Mississippi saw any significant civil rights-era Klan mobilization. That fall, an organizer for the Louisiana-based Original Knights of the Ku Klux Klan arrived in Natchez, recruiting approximately 300 Mississippians to his organization. When an ensuing controversy over the misuse of KKK funds led to the expulsion of Original Knights’ state officer Douglas Byrd, he promptly recruited two-thirds of the group’s Mississippi membership into a new state organization, the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan (WKKKK). By year’s end, the White Knights’ terroristic agenda was front-page news nationally, cementing the group’s reputation as the most rabidly violent KKK organization of the civil rights era.
This phenomenon helps to explain why the KKK had little presence in an otherwise highly racially-oppressive region like the Delta. It also highlights the distinctiveness of Mississippi, where unlike other Deep South states or the Carolinas or Virginia, factors tied to racial competition and threat – i.e. proportionally large black populations, high levels of labor market overlap, or even high levels of civil rights activism – fail to fully explain the patterning of Klan mobilization. Instead, in Mississippi the KKK’s success was primarily predicated on its ability to organize and recruit across existing white supremacist networks.
At the same time, however, certain UKA klaverns developed precisely the opposite appeal, attracting members who felt that the White Knights, with their elaborate system of authorizations for violent acts, were not sufficiently militant. In McComb, the Pike County seat, UKA members, operating under the guise of a secret sect dubbed the Wolf Pack, embarked on a brutal bombing campaign in the summer and fall of 1964. In a five-month period beginning in June, eight beatings, seven burnings, four shootings, and fifteen bombings were reported in the area. One accused klansman later admitted that Wolf Pack members would choose their victims by drawing names from a hat. Such cavalier use of force was made possible by the fact that Klan members enjoyed virtual impunity from police action. Sheriff R.R. Warren, who had told members of the white supremacist “civic” group Americans for the Preservation of the White Race (APWR) that he would “recruit” them in the face of escalating civil rights action, failed to make any arrests of the UKA perpetrators until faced with the prospect of imposed martial law. Rather than acknowledge Klan violence, Warren at one point accused bombing victim Aylene Quin of targeting her own home, while her own children were inside.
These differing organizational orientations extended in complicated ways to the question of KKK violence. Bowers had always been clear that his group would not shy away from the use of force, and throughout the summer of 1964 the White Knights engaged in an intensive terror campaign, which included the burning and bombing of dozens of black churches and homes as well as the Moore and Dee murders in Franklin County and the killings of three civil rights workers in Neshoba County. Alleged failures to provide adequate legal and financial support to implicated klansmen meant that, over time, Bowers became increasingly vulnerable to criticism from his rank-and-file membership. Shelton exploited this vulnerability directly, by contacting UKA klaverns to raise money for WKKKK defendants. He also publicly promoted the UKA’s nonviolent approach during rallies and in media interviews. A typical rationale for a move to the UKA was offered by Adams County Sheriff Odell Anders (himself a suspected WKKKK member), who noted that the many klavern members he knew who opposed violence favored defecting from the White Knights to a more palatable Klan alternative.
Segregationist alliances were not confined to the KKK. Even in areas in which the Klan was highly active, its actions ran in parallel with the subtler efforts of business leaders who headed the Citizens’ Councils, state agents who investigated civil rights action through the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, school board officials who had the power to expel students and fire teachers for civil rights advocacy, and so on – all of which exposed civil rights supporters to significant costs and risks. In May 1963, nine men meeting in a Natchez service station formed the Americans for the Preservation of the White Race (APWR). The group blurred the lines between the Klan and the Citizens’ Councils, working at what they referred to as a “grassroots” level to provide its adherents with an outlet to support white interests and to counter threats posed by civil rights and communist interests.
discuss the civil rights movement and two apologists points of view on this event in history.
look at the Constitution and how the 14th Amendment was used in the Civil Rights Movement.
discuss this key figure in the civil rights movement.
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