Paper Assignment #2
Robert F. Williams’ Negroes with Guns
Robert F. Williams (1925-1996) was a pioneer activist in behalf not just of African American
freedom and civil rights, but indeed human rights throughout the world. He was controversial
because of his promotion of what he termed the “armed self-defense” of minority communities,
particularly black communities in the American South in the post-WWII era, places like his
hometown of Monroe, North Carolina. Your task in this assignment is to read Williams’ 1962
pamphlet, Negroes with Guns, including the Foreword and Introduction, and then write a 2-3
page essay that addresses the following questions.
1) After reading the Foreword and Introduction, explain who Robert F. Williams was. For
example, what did he do with his life that makes him the subject of historians and other
academics and political activists? What does he contribute to your understanding of American
2) After reading the main document by Williams himself, explain what you understand to be his
position on “armed self-defense,” and on non-violent political activism. Do you agree or
disagree with his positions? Explain in detail, employing brief quotes from the text to help in
elaborating your answer here. No footnotes are necessary for quotations, a simple page number
in parentheses will suffice, i.e. (22).
3) Do you find any parts of Williams’ argument to be relevant today in the United States?
Would you recommend that people in minority communities read his pamphlet? Why or why
* All papers should be typed and double-spaced in 12-pt font,
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