|Rob Williams, at right, in Cuba|
Williams' hour-long program targeted blacks in the South and featured music from such artists as Otis Redding and Nina Simone, along with blistering attacks on the U.S. government.
Williams was from North Carolina. In 1956, he became president of the NAACP in Monroe, N.C. At the time, Ku Klux Klan rallies in the South routinely drew thousands of followers. Racial discrimination was widespread and white supremacists sometimes attacked and killed blacks for real or imagined crimes.
In 1957, Williams and his followers fired back after Klan members shot toward the home of the NAACP's vice president.
Martin Luther King Jr. had been urging nonviolent resistance, but Williams believed blacks should take up arms and "meet violence with violence."
The NAACP's national board disagreed with his approach and suspended him. By the early 1960s, Williams had bigger problems. He faced kidnapping charges - which he believed were trumped up - and worried he might be killed.
From Havana, Williams urged American blacks to fight inequality and injustice.
Death and violence run wild in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and throughout racist America...It should be more than clear to us that if we are ever to be free, we must liberate ourselves. The courts are rigged. The whole system is rigged against our people.
Common street dogs enjoy more protection of law than black humans in racist America. If we want protection, we must protect ourselves. If we want freedom, we must fight for it.
Human dignity requires us to fight back...Let our people take to the streets in fierce numbers and meet violence with violence. Let our battle cry be heard around the world: freedom, freedom, freedom now or death.
Their film describes Williams' time in Cuba and his eventual decision to leave the island in 1965 and settle in China.
Williams died in 1996.
|Rob Williams, at left, in Cuba|