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 protest."Stunning. . . . Radio Free Dixie presents an engaging portrait of one man's continuous struggle to resist political and social oppression.--"Emerge"" A] radiant biography. . . . Tyson is that rarest of writers: a successful scholar who can actually tell a compelling story in clear, even handsome language.--"Village Voice Literary Supplement""Tyson's firecracker text crackles with brilliant and lasting images of black life . . . across the South in the '40s, '50s and '60s. . . . Tyson successfully portrays Williams as a troubled visionary, a strong, stubborn and imperfect man, one who greatly influenced what became the Black Power Movement and its young leaders.--"Publishers Weekly"This book tells the riveting story of controversial black activist Robert F. Williams (1925-1996). In the late 1950s, as president of the Monroe, North Carolina, NAACP, Williams organized armed resistance to KKK terrorists--in the process challenging not only white supremacists but also Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights establishment. As "Radio Free Dixie" reveals, however, the civil rights movement and the Black Power movement grew out of the same soil, confronted the same predicaments, and were much closer than traditional portrayals suggest. In the civil rights-era South, independent black politics, black cultural pride, and "armed self-reliance" operated in tension and in tandem with legal efforts and nonviolent protests in the quest for African American freedom.
Radio Free Dixie
University of North Carolina Press
Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power