The documentary film Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power tells the dramatic story of Robert F. Williams (1925 - 1996), an often-forgotten civil rights leader who urged African Americans to arm themselves against violence and oppression. In doing so, Williams not only challenged the Klan-dominated establishment of his hometown of Monroe, North Carolina, he alienated the mainstream Civil Rights Movement, which advocated peaceful resistance. A free film screening and accompanying discussion on Black self-defense take place Saturday, November 23, 2013, at 2 pm at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, located at 315 East Warren Avenue in Detroit.
The story told in the documentary, Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power, is a remarkable, yet widely unknown, portrayal of Robert Williams, one of America’s most important leaders in the 20th century and of the black liberation movement. Williams was president of the Monroe, North Carolina NAACP, president of Republic of New Africa and Chairman of Revolutionary Action Movement, and lived in forced exile in Cuba, China and Tanzania. Negroes With Guns focuses on Williams’ militant fight for African American human rights, armed self-defense and self-determination against the KKK, police, the FBI, and civil rights pacifists.
Following the conversation will be a discussion with Williams’ son, Reverend John C. Williams, Esq.; Dr. Gloria House (Aneb Kgositsile), Director of African-American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, who wrote and will read from the Forward to the book Negroes With Guns; and General Baker, Jr., a founding member of the League of Revolutionary Black Workers who visited Cuba in 1964 specifically to meet Robert F. Williams and later distributed Williams’ banned The Crusader Newsletter in the United States. Robert William’s wife, Mabel Ola Williams, and brother, John H. Williams, will be special guests, and Detroit Council Member JoAnn Watson will present an official City proclamation.
After reflecting on the life and legacy of Robert F. Williams, Dr. Aneb Kgositsile (Gloria House) stated the following, "A man of immense personal courage and vision, Robert Williams's fight and example compel us to be vigilant now, and to resist racist violence as it pervades and fractures every aspect of our lives, steadily eroding our human rights."
General Baker, Jr. added, “Robert F. Williams accomplished more in one lifetime than the average person could accomplish in three! U.S. - China relations during the Kissinger-Nixon period occurred because of Robert F. Williams’ work as a scholar-researcher and consultant at the Center of Chinese Studies at University of Michigan (Ann Arbor).”
The Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History’s Liberation Film Series: 2013 - 2014 Season, entitled Injustice& Resistance, brings into focus the escalating injustice experienced by people of African descent in America today. The purpose is to leverage the collective knowledge of scholars, students, community activists and the grassroots community in a meaningful conversation that focuses on the examination of important films of our history.
The Liberation Film Series is supported by the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History and the Black Studies Departments of Michigan State University, University of Michigan - Dearborn, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Wayne State University, Eastern Michigan University, Wayne County Community College District, Oakland University, University of Massachusetts – Amherst, and Dr. Errol Henderson (University of Pennsylvania), Media Education Foundation, National Council of Black Studies, The Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, Wayne State University Press, Black White Look Optical, ASALH-Detroit, community activists, and individual contributors. Charles Ezra Ferrell, a consultant to The Wright Museum, is the LFS Founder and Program Director.
The 2013 - 2014 season of the Liberation Film Series runs through June 2014, and is free and open to the public. For more information, including the complete series schedule and respective speaker profiles, discussion topics, trailers, reading lists, supplemental educational links, and insightful statements of endorsement, please visit www.TheWright.org/liberation.
About Reverend John C. Williams, Esq.
At the tender age of eight, John was actively involved in the struggle for civil and human rights led by his parents in their home town of Monroe, NC. In the summer of 1961, the Williams family was forced to leave their hometown and country of birth under the threat of violence and death. As a result of this government-sanctioned racism, the Williams family went into political exile for eight years during which time they continued the struggle by bringing into focus on the international level the plight of African Americans in the United States.
At the age of nineteen, John C. Williams returned to the U.S. with his parents and older brother. Upon returning to the States, John received a B.A. Degree in Chinese Studies at Michigan State University and graduated with a Juris Doctorate degree from Indiana University, School of Law at Indianapolis.
John C. Williams has been a resident of Detroit for thirty years, twenty-nine of which have been committed to ministering the Gospel of Jesus Christ. During this period John has also worked with Detroit and other regional Public Schools, Life Directions, Inc., Joy of Jesus Ministries, Inc., People’s Community Services, Inc., Focus Hope, Inc. and a host of other youth and human development entities striving to make our world a better place for all. Since 2003 John has served as Pastor of Cass Park Baptist Church located in the Cass Corridor of Detroit.
About Dr. Aneb Kgositsile (Gloria House)
Dr. Aneb Kgositsile (Gloria House), Ph.D is a Professor of Humanities and African American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Director of the African and African American Studies Program. Dr. House is also Associate Professor Emeritus in the Interdisciplinary Studies Department of Wayne State University, where she was a member of the faculty for twenty-seven years. During her career at Wayne State University, Dr. House won distinction as an excellent teacher, a pioneer in comparative cultural studies, and a leader for more equitable treatment of minority students, faculty and staff.
Dr. House earned her bachelor's degree in French and Political Science and her master's degree in Comparative Literature at the University of California at Berkeley. Her doctorate in American Culture was completed at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where she was a CEW Scholar and recipient of a Rackham Fellowship.
About General Baker, Jr.
General Gordon Baker, Jr. is a national and internationally-known labor leader who has been called the most important 21st century American revolutionary. He was a leader of the Detroit wildcat strikes in the 1960s, a founder of the legendary League of Revolutionary Black Workers, Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM), and the first American to refuse induction to fight in Vietnam. His case was a landmark in draft resistance, symbolizing the beginning of the anti-war movement. He travelled to Cuba and met Che Guevara and religiously listened to Robert F. Williams' radio show, "Radio Free Dixie," broadcasted from Cuba.
In the book, Detroit: I Do Mind Dying - about the worker revolts of that era - General Baker is cited as the "soul of the Dodge Revolutionary Union Movement (DRUM)." DRUM was the driving force behind the wildcat strikes. The ideas emanating from that period inspired Black autoworkers throughout America.