Thaddeus Russell on How "Crazy Negroes" With Guns Helped Kill Jim Crow


"Negroes with Guns"

Thaddeus Russell writes in the August/September issue of Reason that he has a dream that one day children in seventh grade will have an American history textbook that is not like his son's. Its heroes will not just be people from the past who upheld the middle-class values of modesty, chastity, sobriety, thrift, and industry. The rebels it celebrates will include not only abolitionists, suffragists, labor unionists, and civil rights leaders who confined their protests to peaceful and respectable writing, speaking, striking, and marching. In Russell's dream, schoolchildren will read about people like C.O. Chinn. Chinn was a black man in Canton, Mississippi, who in the 1960s owned a farm, a rhythm and blues nightclub, a bootlegging operation, and a large collection of pistols, rifles, and shotguns with which he threatened local Klansmen and police when they attempted to encroach on his businesses or intimidate civil rights activists working to desegregate Canton and register black residents to vote.