Critical Analysis: Radio Free Dixie
The beginning of black militancy in the United States is said to have begun with the chants “Black Power” demanded by Stokely Carmichael and Willie Ricks during the 1966 March against Fear. While Carmichael and Ricks may have coined the phrase “black power”, the roots of the movement had been planted long before by Mr. Robert F. Williams. In Timothy Tyson’s book: Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power, Tyson details the life of a remarkable man who had the audacity not only to challenge racial injustice in America but also to contest the rarely disputed strategies of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Establishment.
Tyson uses Williams life to illustrate his
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We can also look at the involvement of the NAACP for parallels. While both the non-violent movement and the armed self-reliance movement were involved with the NAACP, both movements experienced issues with the organization. Williams was the President of the Monroe and Union County branch of the NAACP, a branch that was extremely unique due to its majority composition of working class blacks and a leadership that was not middle-class. Tyson focuses on the difference in ideology based on class and further details the Williams/Wilkins divide. Williams later clashed heavily with Roy Wilkins, chairman of the national NAACP over Williams’ radical views and his public threat to “meet violence with violence”. Interestingly enough, the non-violent movement also had its issues with the national chapter, as King and Wilkins did not always see eye to eye. Tyson is also able to illustrate the parallels in the successes and the impact that both movements had on American society. Whether it was a 250, 000 person March on Washington, or 5 black guys with guns protecting the gravesite of a black veteran, every success, every fight big or small, violent or non-violent contributed and continues to contribute to the quest for racial justice in America.
Tyson uses Williams’s biography as a means of putting the movement in context and providing the reader with some insight in to the experiences of black freedom fighters.