Synopsis by Mark Deming
Robert Williams was an anomaly in the 1950s during the dawning days of the Civil Rights Movement -- while most African-American leaders espoused peaceful resistance and abhorred violence, Williams advocated meeting force with force, and suggested that blacks should arm themselves for their own protection in his controversial book Negroes With Guns as well as his outspoken newsletter The Crusader. Williams' bold views were not the only thing about him that caused a stir; an incident involving a civil rights protest in 1961 led to Williams being charged with kidnapping by the FBI (charges which were later dropped), and the author and activist went into exile, living for a while in Cuba (where he broadcast a radio show into the southern United States, Radio Free Dixie) and later in China (as a guest of Mao Tse-tung). Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power is a documentary (created with the cooperation of Williams' estate) that looks at the private and public lives of a brilliant but wildly controversial man. Negroes With Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power was screened as part of the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival.