Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power

ISBN13: 9780807849231
Release Date: February 1st 2001
Published by: University of North Carolina Press
Pages: 416

This book tells the remarkable story of Robert F. Williams--one of the most influential black activists of the generation that toppled Jim Crow and forever altered the arc of American history. In the late 1950s, as president of the Monroe, North Carolina, branch of the NAACP, Williams and his followers used machine guns, dynamite, and Molotov cocktails to confront Klan terrorists. Advocating -armed self-reliance- by blacks, Williams challenged not only white supremacists but also Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights establishment. Forced to flee during the 1960s to Cuba--where he broadcast -Radio Free Dixie, - a program of black politics and music that could be heard as far away as Los Angeles and New York City--and then China, Williams remained a controversial figure for the rest of his life.

Historians have customarily portrayed the civil rights movement as a nonviolent call on America's conscience--and the subsequent rise of Black Power as a violent repudiation of the civil rights dream. But Radio Free Dixie reveals that both movements grew out of the same soil, confronted the same predicaments, and reflected the same quest for African American freedom. As Robert Williams's story demonstrates, independent black political action, black cultural pride, and armed self-reliance operated in the South in tension and in tandem with legal efforts and nonviolent protest.

-Stunning. . . . Radio Free Dixie presents an engaging portrait of one man's continuous struggle to resist political and social oppression.--Emerge

-[A] radiant biography. . . . Tyson is that rarest of writers: a successful scholar who can actually tell a compelling story in clear, even handsome language.--Village Voice Literary Supplement

-Tyson's firecracker text crackles with brilliant and lasting images of black life . . . across the South in the '40s, '50s and '60s. . . . Tyson successfully portrays Williams as a troubled visionary, a strong, stubborn and imperfect man, one who greatly influenced what became the Black Power Movement and its young leaders.--Publishers Weekly

This book tells the riveting story of controversial black activist Robert F. Williams (1925-1996). In the late 1950s, as president of the Monroe, North Carolina, NAACP, Williams organized armed resistance to KKK terrorists--in the process challenging not only white supremacists but also Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights establishment. As Radio Free Dixie reveals, however, the civil rights movement and the Black Power movement grew out of the same soil, confronted the same predicaments, and were much closer than traditional portrayals suggest. In the civil rights-era South, independent black politics, black cultural pride, and -armed self-reliance- operated in tension and in tandem with legal efforts and nonviolent protests in the quest for African American freedom.

More work like this

The Pulse of Black Life in the Long 19th Century
Autumn Womack, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
▶︎ Rethinking Empire and Democracy
Eddie S. Glaude, Jr., Reena N. Goldthree
▶︎ The Formation of ‘Religio-Racial’ Identity
Judith Weisenfeld, Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.
How Black Americans See Discrimination
National Public Radio

Upcoming Events

Hold: A Meditation on Black Aesthetics
Nov 4, 2017 @ 9:00 am - Feb 11, 2018 @ 7:00 pm
Wings of a Dove: Form, History, and the Gift of Black Art
Feb 8, 2018 @ 5:30 pm
Princeton Research Day
May 10, 2018
p: (609) 258-4270 | f: (609) 258-3484

African American Studies for the 21st Century

© 2017 The Trustees of Princeton University
  1. 'The Pulse of Black Life in the Long 19th Century' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Autumn Womack 30:42
  2. 'Rethinking Empire and Democracy' Reena N. Goldthree, Eddie S. Glaude Jr. 44:49
  3. 'The Formation of Religio-Racial Identity' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Judith Weisenfeld 47:32
  4. 'What Was African American Marriage?' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Tera Hunter 44:59
  5. 'Before Cornel West, After Cornel West' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Cornel West 52:46
  6. 'An Insistence on Not Being Discouraged' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Chika Okeke-Agulu 55:19
  7. 'A Through Line for African American Studies' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Imani Perry 44:07
  8. 'Activism and Risk in the Face of Trump' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Asanni York, Destiny Crockett 43:02
  9. 'Langston Hughes, Religious Thinker' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Wallace Best 45:50
  10. 'Convergences and Dissonance' Eddie S. Glaude Jr., Keeanga-Yamahatta Taylor, Naomi Murakawa, & Imani Perry 60:08