Blogs > Liberty and Power > "Negroes With Guns" Documentary Film

Feb 27, 2006 10:47 am

"Negroes With Guns" Documentary Film

Here is an addendum to my blog on Robert F. Williams. A documentary film on his life, "Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power," is now available.

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David T. Beito - 8/7/2006

I hold no brief for the NRA (always too willing to cut deals for my taste). I'd find it perfectly plausible to believe that it was a racist and exclusionary group during the Williams' era; however, I'd like to see some firm evidence on this one way or another.

David T. Beito - 8/7/2006

Thanks. I was not aware that this was in dispute. I just took Williams at his word and never dug deeper. I should have. Has anyone sought confirmation from the NRA?

A question you might be able to answer: did the NRA in the late 1950s or 1960s exclude blacks from membership? They may have done so but I don't know.

Another interesting question: if Williams mistakenly claiming to be an NRA member or chapter head, why didn't the NRA at the time take the opportunity to repudiate him as a liar? If your scenario is true, it would have been logical for them to do so.

Lastly, both current day left and right should remember that the right/left politcal divide on the gun issue (or the NRA) really didn't start appearing until the years after the Kennedy assassination.

Most conservatives never bothered to comment on the gun issue at the time and some liberals, such as Hubert Humphrey and Frank Church had strong pro-gun rights records, at least earlier in their careers. The NRA does not seem to be identified at the time with any clear philosophy or party.

Timothy B. Tyson - 8/7/2006

The hard evidence that Williams was an NRA member does not exist. If the NRA had known he and his colleagues were black, they would not have gotten a chapter. According to Williams, they did, but the historical record suggests he may have had a blurred memory on the point; perhaps they tried to form an NRA chapter. In any case, he shared many of the NRA's views about guns. Obviously, however, he is a man of the left. I don't know who else has written about Williams, but if none of us focus on the NRA, it might be because there is no evidence to support your claim. But some right-wing gun enthusiasts still make it, despite the lack of evidence, which suggests to me that the politically driven approach to scholarship that you appear to critique here is not merely a left wing affair.

David T. Beito - 2/28/2006

I need to listen to them. Thanks for calling them to my attention. I don't get the impression that Williams ever went in for the socialism stuff.

Keith Halderman - 2/28/2006

I also found these clips to surprisingly free of socialist rhetoric considering they were broadcast from Cuba.

David T. Beito - 2/28/2006

It is interesting (but not surprising) that Williams many fans on the the left have generally ignored or downplayed his close ties with the NRA. Perhaps this will be discussed in the film.

Keith Halderman - 2/27/2006

I listened to the clips of Radio Free Dixie, very interesting. I especially liked the one about hep musicians.