Robert Franklin Williams (February 26, 1925 – October 15, 1996) was a civil rights leader, the president of the Monroe, North Carolina NAACP chapter in the 1950s and early 1960s, and author. At a time when racial tension was high and official abuses were rampant, Williams was a key figure in promoting both integration and armed black self-defense in the United States. He and his wife left the United States in 1961 to avoid prosecution for kidnapping. A self-professed Black Nationalist and supporter of liberation, he lived in both Cuba and communist China in self-imposed exile. He was a fugitive from justice for many years after he was falsely accused of kidnapping (The charges were later dropped).
Williams’ book Negroes with Guns (1962), published while he was in exile in Cuba, details his experience with violent racism and his disagreement with the pacifist Civil Rights Movement philosophies. It was influential with younger black men, including Huey Newton, who founded the Black Panthers.
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