• This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed

  • How Guns Made the Civil Rights Movement Possible
  • By: Charles E Cobb Jr.
  • Narrated by: Leon Nixon
  • Length: 11 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (49 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Visiting Martin Luther King Jr., at the peak of 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, civil rights scholar Charles E. Cobb Jr., describes the vital role that armed self-defense played in the survival and liberation of black communities in America during the Southern Freedom Movement of the 1960s. In the Deep South, blacks often safeguarded themselves and their loved ones from white supremacist violence by bearing - and, when necessary, using - firearms. In much the same way, Cobb shows, nonviolent civil rights workers received critical support from black gun owners in the regions where they worked. Whether patrolling their neighborhoods, garrisoning their homes, or firing back at attackers, these courageous men and women and the weapons they carried were crucial to the movement's success.

Giving voice to the World War II veterans, rural activists, volunteer security guards, and self-defense groups who took up arms to defend their lives and liberties, This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed lays bare the paradoxical relationship between the nonviolent civil rights struggle and the Second Amendment. Drawing on his firsthand experiences in the civil rights movement and interviews with fellow participants, Cobb provides a controversial examination of the crucial place of firearms in the fight for American freedom. This audio edition is masterfully narrated by Leon Nixon, a listener favorite.

©2014 Charles E. Cobb Jr. (P)2021 Echo Point Books & Media, LLC
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed

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excellent history of black struggle in the US

helped reshape my thinking on violent, non-violent, and unviolent protest
although gun ownership can be problematic, this books does a great job of expounding situations where activists were wise on their use of self defense

3 people found this helpful

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The unspoken history of the Civil Rights struggle

Great book that reviews a lot of the underlaying history we never get told about in modern times. Rather than a one sided argument, the author tries to show the inner struggle within the black community when it comes to armed self defense: a struggle that exists still today.

2 people found this helpful

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Valuable Insights: Self Determination, Protection

I learned a lot here, not just about the role of firearms in the Civil Rights movement, but a larger picture of self-defense as a bedrock, bottom-up practice of survival, deterrent, and self-determination for oppressed individuals. It's hard in 2022 to not view justice movements as centralized, instantly communicating from the top down, and centered around individuals or mottos. Cobb clearly portrays many circumstances in which this was not the case, and when Black people being armed turned the tides in actual violent moments, and acted as a check to some, not all, racist entitlement and escalation. When you all you have is your life, and bigots are coming to take it, the oppressors knowing you're going down shooting can mean nobody goes down at all. What application that has for this current political moment of unchecked white supremacist violence, oppression, and horror is probably best not speculated upon over social media.

I particularly appreciated the history of non-violence as one of many tactics from the early days of SNCC through sit-ins, and more modern student discussions and practice.

As other reviewers, I didn't find the flow/structure particularly intuitive, and some repetition distracted me, but this was an invaluable book I'm very glad I have read.

Credit also to the audiobook narrator, Leon Nixon, whose pleasant voice and authoritative delivery were the perfect timbre for the book.

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The part of the story that gets left out.

This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed tells the story of a major facet of the American Civil Rights Movement that has largely been forgotten by the public at large. The mainstream narrative of the Civil Rights Movement has largely been reduced down to stories of peaceful protest and nonviolent activism, but I believe that the powers that be have rather intentionally warped or obfuscated the stories of the armed wing of the Movement that made such activism possible.
This work seems to be thoroughly researched. I also appreciate that it is so accessible, rather than being bogged down in impenetrable academic terminology.

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A walk into southern history of the negro and the gun in civil rights struggle

Charles Cobb has given a voice and new life to the forgotten and unknown players that made the civil right movement and ironically the non violent strategy viable in parts of the country where submission by violence was the law of the land. We are made aware that the negro was not just a passive player in this struggle. But an organized clever agent in fostering change of an oppressive system. He displayed the power of these rural communities to unite and protect their own and blacks who came to town to help foster change through voting registration and protest against desegregation. The bravery of these unsung warriors should never again be lost. A must read for anyone who wants a deeper understanding of our continued struggle in America for full citizenship and human rights.

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As a fan of history.

This book is part of a deep rabbit hole of history that isn't taught in classrooms but answers a lot of questions. It also started a few conversations. There are a great deal many more lessons that need to be mined from the minds of our elders while they are still among us, not just to get their stories but also their thoughts.

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#LEARNLIFE

Just WOW!! So much I didn't know... Excellent, Balanced, Insightful, Comprehensive, and Interesting. Cobb does a masterful job of bringing together several narratives across several decades to tell the tale... the true tale of guns and the civil rights movement in America.