This book tells the remarkable story of Robert F. Williams--one of
the most influential black activists of the generation that toppled
Jim Crow and forever altered the arc of American history. In the
late 1950s, as president of the Monroe, North Carolina, branch of
the NAACP, Williams and his followers used machine guns, dynamite,
and Molotov cocktails to confront Klan terrorists. Advocating
"armed self-reliance" by blacks, Williams challenged not only white
supremacists but also Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights
establishment. Forced to flee during the 1960s to Cuba--where he
broadcast "Radio Free Dixie," a program of black politics and music
that could be heard as far away as Los Angeles and New York
City--and then China, Williams remained a controversial figure for
the rest of his life.
Historians have customarily portrayed the civil rights movement
as a nonviolent call on America's conscience--and the subsequent
rise of Black Power as a violent repudiation of the civil rights
dream. But "Radio Free Dixie" reveals that both movements grew out
of the same soil, confronted the same predicaments, and reflected
the same quest for African American freedom. As Robert Williams's
story demonstrates, independent black political action, black
cultural pride, and armed self-reliance operated in the South in
tension and in tandem with legal efforts and nonviolent
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