Somebody ‘Fixin’ to be Killed’: A Review of We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement
By Jamala Rogers, The Black Commentator
In We Will Shoot Back, Akinyele Umoja goes further than dispelling a long held myth that black Mississippians were too paralyzed in fear to defend themselves and actively participate in the freedom struggle. And that the omnipotent Klu Klux Klan kept the black community in check. He confronts head-on the stereotype that black southerners were docile, head-hanging, cheek-turning second class citizens.
Umoja takes the reader to the time when black Mississippians were forced to embrace armed resistance for their own survival; blacks faced the realization that their government offered no pretense of protection and could not be relied upon. In many cases, local government officials, along with law enforcement, were part of the same white mobs terrorizing black communities. Umoja chronicles the inextricable and critical role of armed resistance in the advancement of the southern freedom strategy that ultimately led to the passage of the historic Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965. Boycotts and armed resistance were the primary means of effectively organizing for change during this period.
Umoja documents a sophisticated labyrinth of disciplined, well-organized communication networks, safe houses, haven towns and armed residents who, much to the chagrin of local authorities, used local gun laws to their advantage. The special expertise of Vietnam veterans was also tapped.