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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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Black Manhood and the End of Nonviolence

Black Manhood and the End of Nonviolence

(p.153) 6 Black Manhood and the End of Nonviolence
The Spirit and the Shotgun

Simon Wendt

University Press of Florida

This chapter describes the shift of some of the major groups of the Black Power movement towards aggressive violence and even guerilla warfare in the second half of the 1960s. Since the late 1950s, Malcolm X and like-minded radicals had called upon African Americans to abandon nonviolence. Deeply influenced by Malcolm’s calls to fight back against white violence, black activists in Cleveland and California organized armed groups in 1964. In the following years, as militant groups such as the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense (BPP) or the Republic of New Africa (RNA) leaped to national attention, armed militancy became an integral part of the movement. The gendered function of armed resistance in the Black Power movement also produced radically altered concepts of self-defense. Unlike their counterparts who adhered to nonviolence, Black Power militants viewed self-defense as the antithesis of nonviolence and scorned mass demonstrations as perpetuating passiveness and powerlessness. For them, Martin Luther King’s philosophy would only weaken black men.

Keywords:   Black Power movement, aggressive violence, guerilla warfare, 1960s, Malcolm X, African Americans, nonviolence, Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, Republic of New Africa, Black Power militants

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