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Let Us Make MenThe Twentieth-Century Black Press and a Manly Vision for Racial Advancement$
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D'Weston Haywood

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781469643397

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469643397.001.0001

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A Challenge to Our Manhood

A Challenge to Our Manhood

Robert F. Williams, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Decline of the Mainstream Black Press

(p.135) 4 A Challenge to Our Manhood
Let Us Make Men

D'Weston Haywood

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter reinterprets Robert F. Williams as a new kind of black male publisher, who challenged the civil rights establishment and the mainstream black press. Northern black papers had often challenged southern black papers to be as militant as they were, but Williams, a publisher based in the South, accepted this challenge, prompted by escalating racial violence in the South following the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. Lacking the commercial resources of the mainstream black press, Williams used a mimeograph machine to publish The Crusader to address these issues and promote a vision of black manhood rooted in black self-defense against the non-violent strategy promoted by Martin Luther King, Jr. Williams came to believe in “print and practice,” and issued a challenge to mainstream black newspapers to do the same, which helped expose the black press for not being as militant as it had long claimed to be. Many black newspapers now sided with nonviolent activists, elevating Martin Luther King especially, a move that helped usher in the decline of mainstream black newspapers and the rise of radical ones.

Keywords:   civil rights, civil rights movement, self-defense, armed resistance, Robert F. Williams, Martin Luther King Jr., black militancy, nonviolence, citizen-soldier, black veterans

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