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.


Charles Cobb

This Nonviolent Stuff’ll Get You Killed

By Charles E. Cobb Jr.

BASIC BOOKS

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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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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