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"We Will Shoot Back": The Natchez Model and Paramilitary Organization in the Mississippi Freedom Movement

Akinyele Omowale Umoja
Journal of Black Studies
Vol. 32, No. 3 (Jan., 2002), pp. 271-294
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3180864
Page Count: 24
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Abstract

Between 1965 and 1979, economic boycotts were a principal form of insurgency for Black activists in Mississippi. After 1964, in several communities, the boycott of White-owned commerce became the primary tactic utilized by human rights forces to disrupt the system of segregation. These boycotts relied upon paramilitary organization to protect the activities and leadership of the Mississippi freedom movement and the Black community in general and to sanction anyone in the Black community who wished to violate the boycott. This paradigm of economic boycotts supported by paramilitary organization was first utilized in 1965 in Natchez. Natchez is a commercial center in southwest Mississippi. The combination of economic boycott with armed resistance posed an effective coercive campaign to pressure the local White power structure for concessions demanded by the movement. The insurgent model of Natchez was replicated throughout the state, particularly in Black communities of southwest Mississippi.

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