African American Male Chivalry and the Gun

In “Negroes with Guns” by Robert F. Williams the reader is asked if guns are needed by African people in the Americans to defend themselves.

Robert F. Williams attempts to answer this question in this memoir.

Guns do not replace manhood. The modern day gun is somewhat like a crutch used by a crippled white man. Indeed, they are the worse kind. They give unnatural powers to white men who should have none, raise him up above the ground to run, and shield him from his true height in nature.

It is with this lens Robert F. Williams reveals the true idea and utility of the gun. We realize early in the book why Robert F. Williams makes a “call to arms”. He saw a group of Ima (white) males and females determined to terrorize his community. He saw a group of Ima males who were socialized to be antagonist towards African people. It was with a wise mind Robert F. Williams viewed the gun as a weapon of change.

The book highlights how the mere presence of a gun or guns changed the conversation. A weak man or group was able to elevate their ability to accomplish their individual or group will.

For a person to attain this idea, knowledge, one must be socialized or exposed to the power of the gun – a tool – a tool of war.

Fortunate for Robert F. Williams, he was blessed with both experiences.

He was socialized as a young man from the South to be industrious and manly with guns and witnessed their power as a warrior in the US Marines.

We recognize this by Robert F. Williams’ alarm and reaction after learning African American women were being accosted, sexually harassed and raped by Ima males.

Only a chauvinistic and chivalrous upbringing would have allowed Robert F. Williams’ approach to arise from his consciousness – buying and learning how to use guns for defense.

Indeed, African American male chivalry was the central reason Robert F. Williams encouraged African Americans in Monroe County to be armed – to protect themselves.

For example, Robert F. Williams, after a group of white males, the KKK, attempted to intimidate his community with a show of military force. Robert F. Williams used the gun as a deterrent.

According to “Negroes with Guns” by Robert Williams:

We had bought some guns too, in stores, and later a church in the North raised money and got us better rifles. The Klan discovered we were arming and guarding our community. In the summer of 1957 they made one big attempt to stop us.


An armed motorcade attacked Dr. Perry’s house, which is situated on the outskirts of the colored community. We shot it out with the Klan and repelled their attack and the Klan didn’t have any more stomach for this type of fight. They stopped raiding our community. (Williams 19)

This excerpt and book gives the reader a lens inside the life of Robert F. Williams and some reasons why African Americans began to arm themselves in the South and need to arm themselves now.

Robert Williams is a great example of African American male manhood. He exemplified gallantry.

Works Cited

  • Umoja, Akinyele Omowale. We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement. Print.
  • Williams, Robert F. Negroes with Guns. Detroit: Wayne State UP, 1998. Print.

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