Writing at The Washington Post, Courtland Milloy profiles Charles Hicks, the son of civil rights activist Robert Hicks of the Deacons for Defense and Justice, “an organization of black men in Louisiana who used shotguns and rifles to repel attacks by white vigilantes during the 1960s.” As Milloy explains, this weekend Hicks will be honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in Washington, D.C. and “also be taking a step for what the National Rifle Association has dubbed ‘National Rifle Appreciation Day.’” Milloy reprts:

“The Klan would drive through our neighborhood shooting at us, shooting into our homes,” recalled Hicks, 66, who grew up in Bogalusa, La., and has been a civil rights activist in the District for more than 35 years. “The black men in the community wouldn’t stand for it. You shoot at us, we shoot back at you. I’m convinced that without our guns, my family and many other black people would not be alive today.”

As one of the organizers for the weekend’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day activities, Hicks’s pro-gun stance may seem like something of an anomaly. But even though King may best be remembered for his philosophy of nonviolent protest, the fact is that black civil rights activists in many small towns throughout the South carried guns or received protection from groups like the Deacons for Defense and Justice.

Read the whole column here. For more examples of how gun rights helped advance the civil rights movement, see here.