Congress. Senate Committee on the Judiciary. Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration
of the Internal Security Act and other Internal Security Laws.
Testimony of Robert F. Williams. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1970.
SuDoc No.: Y4.J89/2:W67/pt. 1-3
Date(s) of Hearings: February 16, March 24, 25, 1970
Congress and Session: 91st - 2nd
Robert F. Williams was ahead of his time. An advocate of "Black Power" before the
words were even invented, Williams was founder and president of a local NAACP chapter in
North Carolina in 1960 when he advocated that African-Americans fight "violence with
violence." Because of this statement he was kicked out of the NAACP chapter that he
had created. Williams participated in a series of civil rights demonstrations in his
hometown of Monroe, North Carolina that drew the wrath of violent white onlookers Racial
tensions soared and a riot ensued. A white couple who were passing by, soon found
themselves surrounded by a group of over 200 angry and armed African-Americans. Williams
claimed that he tried to protect the couple from harm. But when Williams was charged
with kidnapping, he decided to flee rather than face 1961 North Carolinian justice.
Robert F. Williams left the country and for the next eight years, he lived in Cuba, China, and
North Vietnam. While in exile, he published several books and a newsletters called The Crusader
denouncing capitalism, imperialism, and racism. Vietnam was always of special concern to Williams
as evidenced in his speeches and writing.
The testimony given by Williams includes details of his life in exile, and other items of
interest including a letter from Mao Tse-Tung to African-Americans after the assassination of
Martin Luther King, Jr. Also entered into the record were two poems written by Langston Hughes
for Robert Williams as a New Years greeting. One of the poems entitled the
"Backlash Blues" is presented on this page.
Realizing that the white population of the world was in the minority, Williams was among those
that saw the cooperation of African-Americans and other people of color throughout the world
as an imperative. Evidence of this can be seen in the cartoon from a February 1964 issue of
The Crusader shown here and on the home page.
His worldview is further described in this quote from another of Williams' writings.
"But more and more Negroes are seeing through these tactics of the Kennedy Administration.
The fascist atrocities committed by the U.S. imperialists against the Negro people have laid
bare the true nature of the so-called democracy and freedom of the United States and revealed
the inner link between the reactionary policies pursued by the U.S. government at home and
its policies of aggression abroad."
Elsewhere Williams states why African-Americans could no longer heed the calls of the white
establishment to remain patient and non-violent, tying the issue to Vietnam:
"It is a universally known fact that the power structure of the racist USA is rabidly
opposed to self-defense on the part of our people. They have a morbid fear of violent
self-preservation on the part of U.S. freedom fighters. Is this because they love the
dehumanized Negro? Is this because they are concerned with the welfare and well-being of
our brutalized people? Is this because the American society is a pacifist society with an
aversion for violence? No! A thousand times No! If the power structure had ever manifested
any true concern for the welfare of our people (for whom it now professes great fear that we
may commit suicide by fighting for the right to live as human beings) there would be no
question of violent liberation struggle. The question of peaceful persuasion, as a moral issue,
is belied by its imperialist military actions against Cuba, South Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and
other liberated areas."
Robert F. Williams died on October 19, 1996 at the age of 71.