Akinyele Umoja is a historian and organizer born from the Black Power movement and Black Studies tradition of the late 1960s and early 1970s. He is a scholar-activist, institution-builder, author, educator, community father, husband, parent, and grandfather. He has been active over forty years in the Black Liberation Struggle. Dr. Umoja was the first graduate student of the noted historian, Robin D.G. Kelley, and his writing has been featured in several scholarly publications including The Journal of Black Studies, New Political Science, The International Journal of Africana Studies, The Black Scholar, Radical History Review and Socialism and Democracy.
In We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement, Akinyele Omowale Umoja argues that armed resistance was critical to the efficacy of the southern freedom struggle and the dismantling of segregation and Black disenfranchisement. Intimidation and fear were central to the system of oppression in Mississippi and most of the Deep South. To overcome the system of segregation, Black people had to overcome fear to present a significant challenge to White domination. Armed self-defense was a major tool of survival in allowing some Black southern communities to maintain their integrity and existence in the face of White supremacist terror. By 1965, armed resistance, particularly self-defense, was a significant factor in the challenge of the descendants of enslaved Africans to overturning fear and intimidation and developing different political and social relationships between Black and White Mississippians.
This riveting historical narrative relies upon oral history, archival material, and scholarly literature to reconstruct the use of armed resistance by Black activists and supporters in Mississippi to challenge racist terrorism, segregation, and fight for human rights and political empowerment from the early 1950s through the late 1970s.