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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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Armed Resistance and the Mississippi Movement

Armed Resistance and the Mississippi Movement

(p.100) 4 Armed Resistance and the Mississippi Movement
The Spirit and the Shotgun

Simon Wendt

University Press of Florida

This chapter describes some of the struggles faced by the Mississippi freedom movement. As the stronghold of southern white supremacy, Mississippi became the nightmare of many civil rights activists. Recalling some of the accounts of the members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), brutal terror hindered their attempts to register black voters. The federal government’s refusal to provide protection against racial murder and violent intimidation compounded SNCC’s problems. Only with the assistance of an economically independent and heavily armed contingent of Mississippi activists enabled the organization to persevere. However, there was a serious debate brought upon by the widespread practice of armed self-defense among local blacks. Organizers who advocated philosophical nonviolence encountered staunch opposition from black farmers. To these men and women, nonviolence as a way of life was difficult to gauge. From the perspective of black men, its connotations of passiveness clearly contradicted traditional notions of manhood.

Keywords:   Mississippi freedom movement, southern white supremacy, civil rights, Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, black voters, racial murder, violent intimidation, armed self-defense, nonviolence, manhood

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