When the campus of Tougaloo College was fired on by KKK-type racial night-riders, my home was shot up and a bullet missed my infant daughter by inches. We received no help from the Justice Department and we guarded our campus — faculty and students together — on that and subsequent occasions. We let this be known. The racist attacks slackened considerably. Night-riders are cowardly people — in any time and place — and they take advantage of fear and weakness.I met a former 1960s era activist, he said they were crazy and they had to be. Well I think I understand the times they lived in. A gun may have helped when you know that there were people who were out to get you!
Later, I worked for years in the Deep South as a full-time civil rights organizer. Like a martyred friend of mine, NAACP staffer Medgar W. Evers, I, too, was on many Klan death lists and I, too, traveled armed: a .38 special Smith and Wesson revolver and a 44/40 Winchester carbine.
The knowledge that I had these weapons and was willing to use them kept enemies at bay. Years later, in a changed Mississippi, this was confirmed by a former prominent leader of the White Knights of the KKK when we had an interesting dinner together at Jackson.