A few weeks ago, I linked to a picture of civil rights activist John Salter being attacked by a mob during a lunch counter sit-in during the 1960s. I also linked to a newspaper op-ed in which Salter explained how he and other civil rights workers used firearms for protection from Klansmen and other terrorists—when Klansmen knew that a homicide would not be witnessed by the news media. Since that blog post seemed to draw great interest from the readers, I thought that some persons might be interested in the longer version of Salter’s history of the role of armed self-defense in the Civil Rights Movement.
The longer version is John R. Salter, Jr., “Social Justice Community Organizing and the Necessity for Protective Firearms,” which is chapter 2 of The Gun Culture and Its Enemies 19-23 (William R. Tonso, editor, Merril Press, 1990.) (Merril Press is the press for the Second Amendment Foundation.) The chapter was first published as an article by Salter in Against the Current, July/August 1988. The magazine describes itself as an “analytical journal for the broad revolutionary left.”
Unfortunately, neither version is available on-line, so I will provide a summary.
In the mid-1960s, Salter was a full-time community organizer for the Southern Conference Educational Fund, in the very poor and highly segregated North Carolina black belt. Klan activity was heavy, and “Local law enforcement was almost completely dominated by the United Klans of America.” Klan dues were collected at the police station in Enfield.
Having received many death threats, Salter carried a Smith & Wesson .38 special in his attaché case. One night, on a long stretch of isolated country road, a Klan vehicle tried to force Salter’s car into a high-speed chase, by tailing him nearly bumper-to-bumper. “But I continued to drive sedately, mile[...]