This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed - Author Talk with Charles Cobb
Visiting Martin Luther King Jr. during the Montgomery, Alabama, bus boycott, journalist William Worthy almost sat on a loaded pistol. "Just for self-defense," King assured him. It was not the only weapon King kept for such a purpose; one of his advisors remembered the reverend’s Montgomery, Alabama, home as "an arsenal." Like King, many ostensibly "nonviolent" civil rights activists embraced their constitutional right to self-protection—yet this crucial dimension of the Afro-American freedom struggle has been long ignored by history.
In This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed, Charles E. Cobb Jr. recovers this history, describing the vital role that armed self-defense has played in the survival and liberation of black communities. Drawing on his experiences in the civil rights movement and giving voice to its participants, Cobb lays bare the paradoxical relationship between the nonviolent civil rights struggle and the long history and importance of African Americans taking up arms to defend themselves against white supremacist violence.
Charles E. “Charlie” Cobb, Jr. was born in Washington, DC and now lives in Jacksonville, Florida. He was a Mississippi field secretary for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1962-1967 working primarily in the Mississippi Delta. A founding member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ). Cobb was a foreign affairs reporter for National Public Radio, a correspondent for the PBS documentary program Frontline, a staff writer for National Geographic magazine from 1985-1997, and from 1999-2005 Diplomatic Correspondent forAllAfrica.com, the largest online news service from and about Africa,. In 2008 he was inducted into the NABJ Hall of Fame. He was a visiting professor at Brown University from 1999-2012, conducting a seminar called The Organizing Tradition of the Civil Rights Movement. He is currently a Duke University “scholar- activist,” where he is part of a three-year project developing a “Digital Gateway” into SNCC and its organizing tradition. Cobb is the author of several books including Radical Equations: Civil Rights From Mississippi to the Algebra Project, which he co-authored with legendary SNCC field secretary Bob Moses and On the Road to Freedom: a Guided Tour of the Civil Rights Trail. His latest, published in June 2014 and now available from Duke University Press, is: This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed: How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible.