October 6, 2017 - Vol. 1, Issue 5
Dear Subscribing Institutions, Friends and Supporters:

Welcome to this week's edition of The HistoryMakers Digital Archive Newsletter . For last week's feature, we highlighted the legacy of black athletes and the power of the peaceful protest. In the wake of the hostility that arose against Colin Kaepernick's nonviolent kneel, we must then contemplate: when is nonviolence no longer appropriate in the face of oppression? In the words of former President John Fitzgerald Kennedy, "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable." In the context of the civil rights struggle and black radical tradition, where does self-defense and challenging violence with violence fit?

For this issue, join us as we look at the complex legacy of the Deacons for Defense and Justice, which emerged in response to the Ku Klux Klan's racial violence in Louisiana in the 1960s.
Fire with Fire: Black Self-Defense During the Civil Rights Movement
Charles Sims of the Bogalusa branch of the Deacons for Defense and Justice 12

Stokely Carmichael leading a Black Power rally, 1966 13

Mujahid Ramadad
Kalamu ya Salaam
January 28, 1966. To send a message to the Deacons for Defense and Justice on the eve of their civil rights rally, several Ku Klux Klan members drove under the cover of darkness to Bogalusa, Louisiana’s African American community and set four crosses ablaze. The following evening, Bogalusa Civic and Voters League president and Deacon member A.Z. Young’s response, delivered to a crowd comprised of nearly five hundred supporters, was that if the Klan burned another cross, “We shall strike a match on you, baby.” 1 It met fire with fire. Of racial tensions in the South in the 1960s, Timothy B. Tyson comments in “Introduction: Robert F. Williams, ‘Black Power,’ and the Roots of the African American Freedom Struggle,” “Legal victories had produced only a wave of white terrorism; nonviolent direct action had little to show for all the brutality it had unleashed in its opponents.” 2

Formed in the summer of 1964 in Jonesboro, Louisiana, with chapters quickly emerging in Bogalusa and even Chicago, George Lipsitz states of the Deacons for Defense and Justice in A Life in the Struggle: Ivory Perry and the Culture of Opposition, “The Deacons expressed their intention to defend their community by carrying guns out in the open and using them in response to violent attacks against civil rights workers or community people.” 3 Covered by New York Times civil rights reporter Roy Reed in 1965, Reed noted that due to the Deacons’ presence in Jonesboro, “The Deacons in town reduces open harassment and night riding,” but that it also, “raises tension.” 4

Growing up in nearby Lake Providence, Louisiana in the 1960s, diversity consultant Mujahid Ramadad’s father and maternal grandfather were both Deacons. Ramadad recalls: “Most of them probably were religious men who were members of churches who saw a different purview of not so much turn the other cheek. I think they saw that more spiritually and symbolically, but not so much in the physical sense. While many of them publicly had relationships with the transitional non-violence of Dr. King. That wasn’t something they could actually practice” 5 [Mujahid Ramadan, THMDA 1.1.5]. Poet and social activist Kalamu ya Salaam recalls similar sentiments of militant rhetoric to the Deacons for Defense and Justice while joining a student strike at Southern University in Louisiana, “Many of us had been veterans, so we were armed, and we were older than the average incoming freshman. And some of us had been in Vietnam. We had a different, mindset that they were dealing with. That’s always been a major spur in the development of the black struggle. The struggle peaks after every major war, when the veterans come back. And these are men who have been trained and battled tested. And they come back and become a spearhead of whatever struggles go on. The struggle that are seldom talked about are the ones that had the strongest resonance in the community. So you had the people who came from the, the religious/political side, and then you had those who had the military training. The Deacons for Defense--those were, were military people.” 6 [Kalamu ya Salaam, THMDA 1.2.9]. Lance Hill, similarly comments on this dissonance between nonviolence and self-defense in The Deacons for Defense; Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement, “During the Civil Rights Movement, two strategies invariably competed for the loyalty of the community: an explicit nonviolent strategy imported by national organizations and an implicit strategy revealed in the attitudes and behaviors of the community itself,” and that the Deacons “had been called into existence by the exigencies of survival.” 7

Christopher B. Strain, Pure Fire: Self-Defense as Activism in the Civil Rights Era, “A change in black-white relations, the commonplace acceptance of self-defense did nothing short of reordering race relations in the United States. More than a physical act, self-defense was a frame of mind.” 8 By the end of the decade, the Deacons for Defense had faded into the fabric of history, leaving behind no clear answer to the ideological juxtaposition that existed within the path of the Civil Rights Movement. Strain emphasized that though effective within in extreme context, the cost of armed self-defense was high, and concluded that opposed to the rhetoric of spiritual nonviolence: “Armed self-defense provided no panacea capable of curing four hundred years of racial transgressions.” 9

"It's Been a Good Ride"
On October 4, 2017, the world lost talented African American portrait photographer Joseph Daniel Clipper . When reflecting back on his life, Clipper merely stated: “It’s been a good ride. God, it’s been a good ride” 10 [Joseph Daniel Clipper, THMDA 1.4.4]. Born in 1937 in Bethesda, Maryland, he purchased his first camera, a 35mm Atlas, in his early twenties and began taking photos for pleasure. His hobby rapidly developed into a genuine talent, and he studied at the Doscher County School of Photography, the Winona School of Professional Photography and under the tutelage of the renowned Armenian-Canadian photographer Yousuf Karsh. He took portraits for notable African Americans like Congressional Black Caucus members Charles Coles Diggs, Jr., Parren J. Mitchell III, Ronald Dellums , and former Howard University president Dr. James Cheek . When asked in his interview what was the key to his success as a portrait artist, Clipper stated: “Love for people. Being open, receptive. Just being embracing and loving people. Obviously, all people are not the same. They have good intentions. It just doesn't come across that way all the time. So it's being a people person that's more important or it's just as important as the skill of your craft” 11 [Joseph Daniel Clipper, THMDA 14.2] .
This week, 17 new interviews were added to The HistoryMakers Digital Archive:
Larry Gossett

Civil rights activist and county council member Larry Gossett (1945 - ) represented the State of Washington's District 10. He was involved in the presidential campaign of Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, Sr. and was an organizer for the Rainbow Coalition.
Mattelia B. Grays

Association chief executive and school superintendent Mattelia B. Grays (? - ) was the eighteenth international president of AKA Sorority, Inc.

Edgar Duncan

 Pharmacist and presidential appointee Edgar Duncan (1932 - 2011) was the first African American graduate of the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public Health in 1956. He later was the first pharmacist to serve as assistant surgeon general.
William "Bob" Bailey

Civil rights activist and entertainer William "Bob" Bailey (1927 - 2014 ) hosted Talk of the Town, the first television program in Nevada entirely created by African American talent. He was instrumental in the desegregation of Nevada's gaming industry.
Gloria Lynne

Singer Gloria Lynne (1931 - 2013 ) recorded hit songs like "June Night," "Love I Found You," and "I Wish You Love," which became her signature song in 1964. She toured with such notables as Ray Charles, Billy Eckstine and Ella Fitzgerald.


Alice Randall

Fiction writer, screenwriter, and lyricist Alice Randall (1959 - ) authored the New York Times bestseller The Wind Done Gone, and was the first African American woman to write a number one hit country song, "XXX's and OOO's: An American Girl."
Dolores R. Spikes

Math professor and university president Dolores R. Spikes (1936 - 2015 ) served as the president of the Southern University System, and was the first woman in the United States to head a university system.
Dr. Lloyd C. Elam

College president, psychiatrist, and psychiatry professor Dr. Lloyd C. Elam (1928 - 2008 ) founded Meharry Medical College’s Psychiatry Department, and served as the college's president until 1981.

Charlestine Fairley

Academic administrator Charlestine Fairley (1938 - ) dedicated her career to improving education, substance abuse prevention, and counseling services for the disadvantaged.
Randolph Noel Stone

Law professor and public defender Randolph Noel Stone (1946 - ) was the first African American director of the Law Office of the Cook County Public Defender, and later directed the Edwin F. Mandel Legal Aid Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School, where he started the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project.
Gloria Johnson Goins

Corporate lawyer Gloria Johnson Goins (1963 - ) was the general counsel to the BellSouth Corporation, and played a major role in the implementation of the 678 area code. She went on to become the chief diversity officer of the Home Depot Corporation.
The Honorable
Allegra "Happy" Haynes

Academic administrator and city council member The Honorable Allegra "Happy" Haynes (1953 - ) served on the Denver City Council from 1990 to 2003, and as council president from 1998 to 2000.
The Honorable Louis Stokes

U.S. congressman The Honorable Louis Stokes (1925 - 2015 ) was the first African American U.S. Congressman from Ohio, and a co-founder of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Eugene H. Dibble, III

Investment banker and city commissioner Eugene H. Dibble, III (1929 - 2014 ) founded the Astro Investment Company in 1965, and served as Chicago's Water Commissioner from 1966 to 1972.
James Harris

Hair stylist James Harris (1948 - ) was the first African American member of Intercoiffure, and the founder of the Hair Fashion Group.
Mannie Jackson

Corporate executive and basketball team owner Mannie Jackson (1939 - ) owned the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team.
Reverend Henry Mitchell

Religion professor and religious leader Reverend Henry Mitchell (1919 - ) was a professor of religion and African American history, and the first Martin Luther King Jr. Professor of Black Church Studies at the Colgate Rochester Divinity School.
1.      The New York Times , January 29, 1966, “Klan is Warned By Negro Leader.”
2.       Robert F. Williams, Negroes With Guns . Wayne State University Press, 1962. “Introduction: Robert F. Williams, ‘Black Power,’ and the Roots of the African American Freedom Struggle’” Timothy B. Tyson
3.     George Lipsitz, “A Life in the Struggle: Ivory Perry and the Culture of Opposition.” Temple University Press, February 10, 1995.
4.     Roy Reed, The New York Times , August 15, 1965, “The Deacons, Too, Right By Night.”
5.     Mujahid Ramadan (The HistoryMakers A2004.184), interviewed by Larry Crowe, September 29, 2004, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 1, story 5, Mujahid Ramadan describes his family's involvement in the Deacons for Defense and Justice
6.     Kalamu ya Salaam (The HistoryMakers A2002.205), interviewed by Larry Crowe, November 14, 2002, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 2, story 9, Kalamu ya Salaam describes his Civil Rights militancy in the late 1960s
7.     Lance Hill, “The Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement.” University of North Carolina Press, February 1, 2006.
8.     Christopher Barry Strain, “Civil Rights and Self Defense: The Fiction of Nonviolence, 1955-1968.” University of California, Berkeley, 2000.
9.     Christopher Barry Strain, “Civil Rights and Self Defense: The Fiction of Nonviolence, 1955-1968.” University of California, Berkeley, 2000.
10. Joseph Daniel Clipper (The HistoryMakers A2004.050), interviewed by Racine Tucker Hamilton, May 17, 2004, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 4, story 4, Joseph Clipper reflects on his life's work
11. Joseph Daniel Clipper (The HistoryMakers A2004.050), interviewed by Racine Tucker Hamilton, May 17, 2004, The HistoryMakers Digital Archive. Session 1, tape 4, story 2, Joseph Clipper shares advice with aspiring photographers
12. Charles Sims holding Ku Klux Klan Clothing © Bettmann/Corbis. Can be found at:
13. U.S. Library of Congress , LC-USZ62-111429. Stokely Carmichael is shown speaking during a Black Power rally at the University of California’s Greek Theater. 1966. Can be found at:
14. BANNER PHOTO: Neal Boenzi, New York Times Co ./Getty Images. Man gives the Black Power Salute to the National Guard During the 1967 Newark Riots. Can be found at:

Spot an error in The HistoryMakers Digital Archive ? We want to fix it! Send a brief description of the error to:
We're here to help! Please direct questions about The HistoryMakers Digital Archive to:
Browse our collection at: