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How the Daddy of Jesse Helms Gave Birth to Black Power

In 1936 in the Jim Crow South, Robert F. Williams was an 11-year-old black boy in Monroe, North Carolina, who watched helplessly as Jesse Helms Sr. (father and namesake of the former senator) beat an African-American woman to the ground and "dragged her off to the nearby jailhouse, her dress up over her head, the same way that a cave man would club and drag his sexual prey." Years later, after a stint in the segregated military, Williams returned home to Monroe and worked as an NAACP organizer, where he brought international attention to the Kissing Case, a 1958 incident in which two black boys under the age of 10 were sentenced to a reformatory for kissing a white girl. By then, Williams had also attracted controversy for his advocacy of armed self-defense, a position he outlined in the book Negroes with Guns. But it would all change overnight in 1961, when Williams landed on FBI's Most Wanted list, after being charged with kidnapping a white couple that Williams claimed he was trying to save from an angry black crowd. [more inside]
posted by jonp72 on Jun 8, 2010 - 36 comments

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