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“It’s Time for Black Men …”

“It’s Time for Black Men …”

The Deacons for Defense and the Mississippi Movement

(p.204) “It’s Time for Black Men …”
The Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi
Akinyele Umoja
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter focuses on the Deacons for Defense and its place in the civil rights movement in Mississippi. It examines the role of the Deacons as an option for African Americans who perceived a lack of local or federal government protection for protest efforts. It traces the roots of the Deacons to Louisiana, where they began as a paramilitary group in 1965, and their eventual foray into Mississippi, where they gained new public significance during the James Meredith “March against Fear and Intimidation” in 1966. The chapter explores the tradition of armed resistance in Mississippi and its distinction from paramilitary organizations, along with issues of organizing and self-defense and the multiple strategies employed by the Deacons. It also highlights the role of the Deacons in the Natchez consumer boycott in order to contextualize the group’s political relevance in the communities where they were active.

Keywords:   civil rights movement, Deacons for Defense, Mississippi, African Americans, James Meredith, March against Fear and Intimidation, armed resistance, paramilitary organizations, self-defense, consumer boycott

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