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The Spirit and the ShotgunArmed Resistance and the Struggle for Civil Rights$
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Simon Wendt

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780813030180

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813030180.001.0001

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The Deacons for Defense and Justice

The Deacons for Defense and Justice

(p.66) 3 The Deacons for Defense and Justice
The Spirit and the Shotgun

Simon Wendt

University Press of Florida

This chapter recalls the experiences of the members of the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in the state of Louisiana. Unlike the freedom movement in Tuscaloosa, civil rights activism in the rural areas of the Pelican State confronted the hard-core of white violent resistance. In this environment, few of those locals who joined the freedom movement viewed nonviolence as a way of life. Rather, in virtually all of the civil rights campaigns that CORE helped organize between 1963 and 1965, tactical nonviolence and voter registration worked hand in hand with armed resistance. The Deacons for Defense and Justice, a self-defense organization that formed in 1964, was the most sophisticated example of this type of southern black militancy. In addition to providing protection against the Ku Klux Klan, the Deacons also symbolized a new form of assertive manhood that challenged white myths of black powerlessness.

Keywords:   Congress of Racial Equality, Louisiana, civil rights activism, white violent resistance, freedom movement, tactical nonviolence, armed resistance, Deacons for Defense and Justice, southern black militancy, Ku Klux Klan

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