Quick Reads: "This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed" by Charles Cobb

This challenging book examines the role of guns in the civil rights movement.

| Sat Jun. 7, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Charles Cobb

This Nonviolent Stuff'll Get You Killed

By Charles E. Cobb Jr.


In this challenging book, Charles Cobb, a former organizer, examines the role of guns in the civil rights movement. Looking beyond the conventional narrative ("Rosa sat down, Martin stood up…"), he finds that the nonviolent struggle against Jim Crow was often backstopped by armed supporters keeping the threat of white violence at bay. The title paraphrases a Mississippi farmer's admonition to the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., who turned the other cheek in public while keeping guns at his home after it was bombed. Cobb's thesis may thrill Second Amendment enthusiasts, but he argues that truly standing your ground means scaring off white thugs in hoods—not gunning down a black teen in a hoodie.

This review originally appeared in our July/August issue of Mother Jones. 

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