Robert F. Williams
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Robert F. Williams
Robert F. Williams, May 1961
Robert Franklin Williams
February 26, 1925
Monroe, North Carolina, United States
|Died||October 15, 1996 (aged 71)|
Baldwin, Michigan, United States
|Occupation||Civil rights leader, author|
Robert Franklin Williams (February 26, 1925 – October 15, 1996) was an American civil rights leader and author best known for serving as president of the Monroe, North Carolina chapter of the NAACP in the 1950s and into 1961. He succeeded in integrating the local public library and swimming pool in Monroe. At a time of high racial tension and official abuses, Williams promoted armed Black self-defense in the United States. In addition, he helped gain support for gubernatorial pardons in 1959 for two young African-American boys who had received lengthy reformatory sentences in what was known as the Kissing Case of 1958. It generated national and international attention and criticism of the state.
Williams obtained a charter from the National Rifle Association and set up a rifle club to defend Black people in Monroe from Ku Klux Klan or other attackers. The local chapter of the NAACP supported Freedom Riders who traveled to Monroe in the summer of 1961 in a test of integrating interstate buses. In August 1961 he and his wife left the United States for several years to avoid kidnapping charges after a white couple got lost in the black part of town in Monroe. Williams told them to stay at his house because he didn't want them to run into anyone who mistook them for Klansmen. The couple was grateful at first. But the police (who were mainly KKK members) and the FBI convinced the couple to say Williams had kidnapped them. The FBI put out a warrant. But people across the US helped him escape to Cuba. These charges were dropped by the state when his trial opened in 1975 following his return. Williams identified as a Black Nationalist and lived in both Cuba and the People's Republic of China during his exile between 1961 and 1969.
Williams' book Negroes with Guns (1962) has been reprinted many times, most recently in 2013. It details his experience with violent racism and his disagreement with the non-violent wing of the Civil Rights Movement. The text was widely influential; Black Panther Party founder Huey Newton, and African American Defense League founder Mauricelm-Lei Millere cited it as a major inspiration.
Robert Franklin Williams was born in Monroe, North Carolina on February 26, 1925 to Emma Carter and John L. Williams who worked as a railroad boiler washer. He had two sisters, Lorraine Garlington and Jessie Link; and two brothers, John H. Williams and Edward S. Williams. His grandmother, a former slave, he is of yoruba ancestry gave Williams his grandfather's rifle. His grandfather had been a Republican campaigner and publisher of the newspaper The People's Voice during the hard years after Reconstruction in North Carolina. At the age of 11, Williams witnessed the beating and dragging of a black woman by a police officer, Jesse Helms Sr. Helms Sr., later the Monroe chief of police, was the father of future United States Senator Jesse Helms.
As a young man Williams joined the Great Migration, traveling north for industrial work during World War II. He witnessed race riots in Detroit in 1943 prompted by labor competition between white and black Americans. Drafted in 1944, he served for a year and a half as a private in the then segregated Marines before returning home to Monroe.
Marriage and family
In 1947, Williams married a 16-year-old African American woman named Mabel Ola Robinson, a fellow civil rights activist. They had three children named John C. Williams, Robert F. Williams, Jr., and Franklin H. Williams.
Civil rights movement
Early NAACP activities
After returning to Monroe in 1945 following his war service in the Marines, Williams joined the local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). He wanted to change the segregated town to protect the civil rights of blacks. The chapter had not been very active and was declining in numbers. Williams was elected president and Dr. Albert E. Perry as vice-president; the two generated new energy in the group during the 1950s.
First they worked to integrate the public library. After that success, in 1957 Williams also led efforts to integrate the public swimming pools, which were funded and operated by taxpayer monies. He had followers form picket lines around the pool. The NAACP members organized peaceful demonstrations, but opponents fired on their lines. No one was arrested or punished, although law enforcement officers were present. At that time, Monroe had a large Ku Klux Klan chapter. The press estimated it had 7,500 members, when the city had a total of 12,000 residents.
Black Armed Guard
Alarmed at the threat to civil rights activists, Williams had applied to the National Rifle Association (NRA) for a charter for a local rifle club. He called the Monroe Chapter of the NRA the Black Armed Guard; it was made up of about 50–60 men, including some veterans like him. They were determined to defend the local black community from racist attacks, a goal similar to that of the Deacons for Defense who established chapters in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama in 1964–1965.
Newtown was the black residential area of Monroe. In the summer of 1957, there were rumors that the KKK was going to attack the house of Dr. Albert Perry, a practicing physician and vice-president of the Monroe NAACP. Williams and his men of the Armed Guard went to Perry's house to defend it, fortifying it with sandbags. When numerous KKK members appeared and shot from their cars, Williams and his followers returned the fire, driving them away.
"After this clash the same city officials who said the Klan had a constitutional right to organize met in an emergency session and passed a city ordinance banning the Klan from Monroe without a special permit from the police chief."
In Negroes with Guns, Williams writes:
[R]acists consider themselves superior beings and are not willing to exchange their superior lives for our inferior ones. They are most vicious and violent when they can practice violence with impunity." He wrote, "It has always been an accepted right of Americans, as the history of our Western states proves, that where the law is unable, or unwilling, to enforce order, the citizens can, and must act in self-defense against lawless violence.
Williams insisted his position was defensive, as opposed to a declaration of war. He relied on numerous black military veterans from the local area, as well as financial support from across the country. In Harlem, particularly, fundraisers were frequently held and proceeds devoted to purchasing arms for Williams and his followers. He called it "armed self-reliance" in the face of white terrorism. Threats against Williams' life and his family became more frequent.
In 1958 Williams as head of the NAACP chapter defended two young black boys, ages seven and nine, who were jailed in Monroe after a white girl kissed one of them. The incident was covered internationally and Williams became known around the world. His publicity campaign, inviting a barrage of headlines castigating Monroe and the US in the global press, was instrumental in shaming the officials involved. Authorities eventually released the boys, who were pardoned by the governor of North Carolina, but the state never apologized for its treatment of them. The controversy was known as the "Kissing Case."
Harassment and difficulties
On May 12, 1958, the Raleigh Eagle, a North Carolina newspaper, reported that Nationwide Insurance Company was canceling Williams' collision and comprehensive coverage, effective that day. They first canceled all of his automobile insurance, but decided to reinstate his liability and medical payments coverage, enough for Williams to retain his car license. The company said that Williams' affiliation with the NAACP was not a factor; they noted "that rocks had been thrown at his car and home several times by people driving by his home at night. These incidents just forced us to get off the comprehensive and collision portions of his policy."
The Raleigh Eagle reported that Williams had said that six months before, a 50-car Ku Klux Klan caravan had swapped gunfire with a group of blacks outside the home of Dr. A. E. Perry, vice president of the local NAACP chapter. The article quoted police chief A. A. Maurey as denying part of that story. He said, "I know there was no shooting." He said that he had had several police cars accompanying the KKK caravan to watch for possible law violations. The article quoted Williams: "These things have happened," Williams insisted. "Police try to make it appear that I have been exaggerating and trying to stir up trouble. If police tell me I am in no danger and that they can't confirm these events, why then has my insurance been cancelled?"
The following year, Williams was so incensed with the decision of a Monroe court to acquit two white men of raping a black woman, Mary Reid, that he replied by saying on the courthouse steps:
"We cannot rely on the law. We can get no justice under the present system. If we feel that injustice is done, we must then be prepared to inflict justice on these people. Since the federal government will not bring a halt to lynching, and since the so-called courts lynch our people legally, if it's necessary to stop lynching with lynching, then we must be willing to resort to that method. We must meet violence with violence." The Harvard Crimson quoted him as saying "the Negro in the South cannot expect justice in the courts. He must convict his attackers on the spot. He must meet violence with violence, lynching with lynching." It is not known where these quotes originated.
Suspension from the NAACP
This statement led to William's suspension from the NAACP which said that he made "violent" statements, accompanied by distortions in the mainstream media, like The New York Times, and by Martin Luther King, among other nonviolent activists, about what he said despite the fact that he disavowed any reference to lynching, rejecting retaliatory force, also called retaliatory violence, and only said that African Americans should act in armed self-defense if attacked by white people.
Freedom Rides and prosecution
When CORE dispatched "Freedom Riders" to Monroe to campaign in 1961 for integrated interstate bus travel, the local NAACP chapter served as their base. They were housed in Newtown, the black section of Monroe. Pickets marched daily at the courthouse, put under a variety of restraints by the Monroe police, such as having to stand 15 feet apart. During this campaign, Freedom Riders were beaten by violent crowds in Anniston, Alabama and Birmingham.
Around this time, a white couple from a nearby town drove into the black section of Monroe when other streets were closed by mobs because of protests at the county courthouse. They were stopped in the street by an angry crowd. For their safety, they were taken to Williams' home.
Williams initially told them that they were free to go, but he soon realized that the crowd would not grant safe passage. He kept the white couple in a house nearby until they were able to safely leave the neighborhood. North Carolina law enforcement accused Williams of having kidnapped the couple. He and his family fled the state with local law enforcement in pursuit.
On August 28, 1961, the FBI issued a warrant in Charlotte, North Carolina, charging Williams with unlawful interstate flight to avoid prosecution for kidnapping. The FBI document lists Williams as a "freelance writer and janitor ... [Williams] ... has previously been diagnosed as a schizophrenic and has advocated and threatened violence ... considered armed and extremely dangerous." After a wanted poster, signed by the director J. Edgar Hoover, was distributed, Williams decided to leave the country.
Exile and return
Williams went to Cuba in 1961 by way of Canada and Mexico. He regularly broadcast addresses from Cuba to Southern blacks on "Radio Free Dixie". He established the station with approval of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, along with assistance of the Cuban citizens, and operated it from 1962 to 1965.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, Williams used Radio Free Dixie to urge black soldiers in the U.S. armed forces, who were then preparing for a possible invasion of Cuba, to engage in insurrection against the United States.
While you are armed, remember this is your only chance to be free. ... This is your only chance to stop your people from being treated worse than dogs. We'll take care of the front, Joe, but from the back, he'll never know what hit him. You dig?
During this stay, Mabel and Robert Williams published a newspaper, The Crusader. He wrote his book Negroes With Guns while in Cuba. It had a significant influence on Huey P. Newton, founder of the Black Panthers and in later years Mauricelm-Lei Millere, the founder of African American Defense League. Despite his absence from the United States, in 1964 Williams was elected president of the US-based Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM).
Visit to Hanoi
In 1965 Williams traveled to Hanoi, then the capital of North Vietnam. In a public speech, he advocated armed violence against the United States during the Vietnam War, congratulated China on obtaining its own nuclear weapons (which Williams referred to as "The Freedom Bomb"), and showed his solidarity with the North Vietnamese against the United States military attacks against that country.
Some Communist Party USA members opposed Williams' positions, suggesting they would divide the working class in the U.S. along racial lines. In a May 18, 1964, letter from Havana to his U.S. lawyer, civil rights attorney Conrad Lynn, Williams wrote:
... the U.S.C.P. has openly come out against my position on the Negro struggle. In fact, the party has sent special representatives here to sabotage my work on behalf of U.S. Negro liberation. They are pestering the Cubans to remove me from the radio, ban THE CRUSADER and to take a number of other steps in what they call `cutting Williams down to size.' ...
The whole thing is due to the fact that I absolutely refuse to take direction from Gus Hall's idiots ... I hope to depart from here, if possible, soon. I am writing you to stand by in case I am turned over to the FBI ...
In 1965, Williams and his wife left Cuba to settle in China, where he was well received. They lived comfortably there and he associated with higher functionaries of the Chinese government. In January 1968, Conrad Lynn wrote to encourage Williams to return to the U.S., to which Williams responded:
The only thing that prevents my acceptance and willingness to make an immediate return is the present lack of adequate financial assurance for a fight against my being railroaded to jail and an effective organization to arouse the people. I don't think it will be wise to announce my nomination [for President of the United States] and immediate return unless the kind of money is positively available ...
Lynn wrote Williams in a letter on January 24, 1968: "You are wise in not making a decision to come back until the financial situation is assured." Because no financial backing could be found, no 1968 "Williams for President" campaign was ever launched by Williams' supporters in the United States. By November 1969, Williams apparently had become disillusioned with the U.S. left. As his lawyer, Conrad Lynn, noted in a November 7, 1969 letter to W. Haywood Burns of the Legal Defense Foundation:
Williams now clearly takes the position that he has been deserted by the left. How and whether he fits black militant organizations into that category I don't know. Radio Free Europe offered him pay to broadcast for them. So far he has refused. But he has not foreclosed making a deal with the government or the far right. He takes the position that he is entitled to make any maneuver to keep from going to jail for kidnapping ...
Williams was suspected by the Justice Department of wanting to fill the vacuum of influence left after the assassinations of his friends Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Hoover received reports that blacks looked to Williams as a figure similar to John Brown, the militant abolitionist who attacked a federal facility at Harper's Ferry before the American Civil War. Williams' attempts to contact the U.S. government in order to return were consistently rebuffed.
His wife Mabel Williams returned first, entering the United States in September 1969. Williams returned via London, England, reaching Detroit, Michigan in 1969. He was immediately arrested for extradition to North Carolina for trial on the kidnapping charge.
Williams was tried in Monroe, North Carolina, in December 1975. The historian Gwendolyn Midlo Hall chaired his defense committee and a broad range of leftists arrived to support him. Noted attorney William Kunstler represented Williams in court. The State of North Carolina dropped all charges against him almost immediately.
Williams died at age 71 from Hodgkin's lymphoma on October 15, 1996. He had been living in Baldwin, Michigan. At his funeral, Rosa Parks, an activist known for sparking the bus boycott in Montgomery, Alabama, in 1955, recounted the high regard for Williams by those who marched peacefully with King in Alabama. Parks gave the eulogy at Williams' funeral in 1996, praising him for "his courage and for his commitment to freedom". She concluded, "The sacrifices he made, and what he did, should go down in history and never be forgotten."
He was survived by his grandsons Robert F. Williams III and Benjamin P. Williams, and his daughter-in-law, Melanie Williams. His wife, Mabel, lived for 18 more years after his death, dying on April 19, 2014.
- Negroes with Guns (with input by his wife; 1962), New York, NY: Marzani & Munsell. Reprinted by Wayne State University Press, 1998.
- "USA: The Potential of a Minority Revolution"  1965. In August Meier et al. (eds), Black Protest Thought in the 20th Century. Indianapolis and New York.
- Listen Brother!. 1968; New York, NY: World View Publishers. 40 pp.
- "The Black Scholar Interviews: Robert F Williams," The Black Scholar, 1970.
- Williams, Robert F. While God Lay Sleeping: The Autobiography of Robert F. Williams (completed 1996, unpublished).
- "Exile Robert Williams' Wife Returns to US from Africa", The Afro American (Baltimore, Maryland, USA), August 30 or September 6, 1969; p. 22 .
- Randolph Boehm and Daniel Lewis, The Black Power Movement, Part 2: The Papers of Robert F Williams, University Publications of America, Bethesda, MD, 2002. The linked-to document is a guide to a microfilmed version of the Robert F Williams Papers, which are at the Bentley Historical Library of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. It contains notes on the content of the papers and an introductory essay by Timothy Tyson.
- Truman Nelson, People With Strength. The Story of Monroe, N.C., 37 pp. N.Y. Committee to Aid the Monroe Defendants, n.d. (1962 or 1963?). Illustrated wraps. With hand-drawn map.
- Assata Shakur's site.
- Greg Thomas, "Spooks, Sex & Socio-Diagnostics", Proudflesh, volume 1.1, October 2002 .
- Timothy B Tyson, "Robert Franklin Williams: A Warrior For Freedom, 1925-1996", Southern Exposure, Winter 1996.
- Timothy B Tyson, "Introduction", to Boehm and Lewis, The Papers of Robert F Williams, 2002, cited above.
- Robert F Williams, Listen Brother!, 1968, New York: World View Publishers. Opposes Vietnam War. 40 pages.
- Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power, a 2004 film
- Robert Franklin Williams in North Carolina Birth Index, Family Search
- he is of yoruba ancestry Robert Franklin Williams in Michigan Obituaries, Family Search
- Timothy B. Tyson, "Robert F. Williams: 'Black Power' and the Roots of the African American Freedom Struggle", in Susan M. Glisson (ed.), The Human Tradition in the Civil Rights Movement, Rowan & Littlefield, 2006, pp. 227–54; accessed May 12, 2011.
- pp. 227-28.
- Jesse Helms: Timeline, PBS
- "Jesse Helms Center". Archived from the original on February 26, 2017. Retrieved February 25, 2017.
- Robert and Mabel Williams Resource Guide, p. 36.
- Robert F Williams's United States World War II Army Enlistment Records, Family Search
- [Mabel Ola Robinson in North Carolina Birth Index], Family Search
- Mabel Ola Robinson Williams memorial page, Family Search. Last updated May 13, 2014/
- Robert Franklin Williams, Sr. memorial page, Find A Grave.
- Robert and Mabel Williams Resource Guide, p. 9.
- "In Memory of Robert F Williams: A Voice for Armed Self-Defense and Black Liberation", Revolutionary Worker, November 17, 1996.
- Williams, Robert F. "1957: Swimming Pool Showdown", Southern Exposure, c. Summer 1980; the article appeared in a special issue devoted to the Ku Klux Klan, accessed November 17, 2013.
- Truman Nelson, 'People With Strength: The Story of Monroe, North Carolina', 1962, within 'Robert and Mabel Williams Resource Guide' (San Francisco: Freedom Archives, 2005), p. 55, 59.
- Nelson, People With Strength, p. 49, 60, 65.
- "In Memory of Robert F Williams", Revolutionary Worker, November 17, 1996;
Timothy Tyson, "Robert Franklin Williams: A Warrior for Freedom;"
Timothy Tyson, "Introduction" to Robert Williams Papers, p. vi. (See Sources)
- In Thomas (Chapter 4), Spooks, Sex & Socio-Diagnostics, section: "Sadistic White Insanity".
- "Negroes With Guns", Ann Coulter blog, 18 April 2012.
- Robert and Mabel Williams Resource Guide , p. 12.
- Nelson, People With Strength: The Story of Monroe, North Carolina, p. 62-63
- Insurance cancelled, Raleigh Eagle, May 12, 1958, p. 15.
- Tyson, Timothy B. (1997). "Robert F. Williams, NAACP: Warrior and rebel". Crisis. Vol. 104 no. 3. Baltimore, MD: Crisis Publishing Company. p. 17. ISSN 1559-1573.
- James Bock, "A new debate over nonviolence Militant: A fiery black advocate of violence in the 1960s has returned to the spotlight with recent revelations that Thurgood Marshall passed information about him to the FBI," Baltimore Sun, March 2, 1997.
- Timothy B. Tyson, "Robert F. Williams: "Black Power" and the Roots of African American Freedom Struggle",The Human Tradition in the Civil Rights Movement, ed. Susan M. Glisson, Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littefield, 2006, p. 236
- Christopher B. Strain, Pure Fire: Self-defense as Activism in the Civil Rights Era, Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2005, p. 59.
- James Forman,The Making of Black Revolutionaries, Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000, second printing, p. 176.
- "The Robert Williams Case",The Crisis, Jun-Jul 1959, Vol. 66, no. 6, p. 327-329.
- Nelson on pages 65-66 in People With Strength: The Story of Monroe, North Carolina, quotes Williams as saying "This court has proved that Negroes cannot receive justice from the courts. They must convict their attackers on the spot. They must meet violence with violence!".
- "Negroes With Guns | News | The Harvard Crimson". www.thecrimson.com. Retrieved November 5, 2019.
- Timothy B. Tyson, "Robert F. Williams: NAACP "Warrior and Rebel," p. 17.
- Thomas Bynum, NAACP Youth and the Fight for Black Freedom, 1936–1965, Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2013, p. 125.
- Strain, Pure Fire: Self-defense as Activism in the Civil Rights Era, p. 60, 66, 181, 206.
- Forman, The Making of Black Revolutionaries, 159.
- Herbert Shapiro, White Violence and Black Response: From Reconstruction to Montgomery, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1988, p. 459.
- Thomas F. Jackson, From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007, p. 106.
- "The Robert Williams Case," p. 325-329.
- Andrew Witt, The Black Panthers in the Midwest: The Community Programs and Services of the Black Panther Party of Milwaukee, 1966-1977, New York: Routledge, 2007, p. 19-20.
- Diane Carol Fujino, Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2005, p. 152, 165-166, 202.
- Tyson, Timothy B., Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power, Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001, 149-151, 153, 155, 214, 243, 261.
- Akinyele Omowale Umoja, We Will Shoot Back: Armed Resistance in the Mississippi Freedom Movement, New York: New York University Press, 2013, p. 43, 122.
- Benjamin R. Friedman, "Picking Up Where Robert F. Williams Left Off: The Winston-Salem Branch of the Black Panther Party," Comrades: A Local History of the Black Panther Party, ed. Judson L. Jeffries, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2007, p. 50.
- Yvonne Ryan,Roy Wilkins: The Quiet Revolutionary and the NAACP, Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky, 2014, p. 78.
- Tyson, "Introduction" to Williams Papers, p. xiv. For another account, see the Introduction to Robert F. Williams, Listen Brother! Both works are listed in Sources section of this article.
- Truman Nelson, People With Strength: The Story of Monroe, North Carolina, p. 70-77.
- Robert and Mabel Williams Resource Guide, p. 19.
- Robert and Mabel Williams Resource Guide, pp. 20-21.
- Michael Dobbs, One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War, Knopf (2008).
- "Exile Robert Williams' Wife Returns to US from Africa", The Afro American (Baltimore, Maryland), August 30 or September 6, 1969 (unclear).
- Williams, Robert F., "Speech Delivered at the International Conference for Solidarity with the People of Vietnam Against U.S. Imperialist Aggression for the Defense of Peace. Hanoi, Democratic Republic of Vietnam November 25–29, 1965" (March 1965). The Crusader 6(3), pp. 1-5.
- Conrad Lynn to Haywood Burns, November 7, 1969, Conrad Lynn Papers, Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center, Boston University.
- "Exile Robert Williams' Wife Returns to US from Africa", The Afro American (Baltimore, Maryland), August 30 or September 6, 1969; p. 22, accessed November 17, 2013.
- "Charges Dropped Against Williams", Wilmington Morning Star (UPI). January 17, 1976, p. 2.
Gwendolyn Midlo Hall Papers (1939-1991), Bentley Historical Library[permanent dead link], University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
- Timothy B. Tyson, "Robert Franklin Williams: A Warrior For Freedom, 1925-1996" Archived July 8, 2013, at the Wayback Machine Investigating U.S. History (City University of New York); accessed October 3, 2016.
- Robert and Mabel Williams Resource Guide(San Francisco: Freedom Archives, 2005), p. 38.
- "In Memory of Robert F. Williams:A Voice for Armed Self-Defense and Black Liberation– Forum". Assatashakur.org. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
- "Independent Lens . NEGROES WITH GUNS: Rob Williams and Black Power". PBS. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
- "Press and Photos – Negroes With Guns – Rob Williams and Black Power". Jou.ufl.edu. Retrieved August 27, 2010.
- Hill, Lance. Deacons for Defense: Armed Resistance and the Civil Rights Movement, University of North Carolina Press, 2004. History of the Deacons' civil rights activity and organizing in Louisiana and elsewhere; they supported armed self-defense.
- Forman, James. The Making of Black Revolutionaries, University of Washington Press (1997).
- Rucker, Walter (2006). "Crusader In Exile: Robert F. Williams and the International Struggle for Black Freedom in America". The Black Scholar. Taylor & Francis. 36 (2): 19–34. JSTOR 41069202.
- Schaich, Diane Hope. Robert F. Williams: A Rhetoric of Revolution, M.A. Thesis, SUNY Buffalo, 1970.
- Tyson, Timothy B. Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power. 416 pages. University of North Carolina Press (2001). ISBN 0-8078-4923-5.
- The Robert F. Williams Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan. http://bentley.umich.edu/
- Robert Williams Bibliography, African American Involvement in the Vietnam War website.
- Kazembe Balagun, Learning From Rosa Parks, The Indypendent, November 9, 2005.
Writings and interviews
- "Speech by U.S. Negro Leader Robert Williams", at a rally in Peking on August 8, 1966, protesting the discrimination against African Americans in the U.S.
- on YouTube[dead link]
- Robert F. Williams, Listen, Brother! (1968), pamphlet addressed to American soldiers in Vietnam
- Sahir, Wanda. "Growing up Revolutionary: An Interview with John Williams, son of Mabel and Robert F. Williams", San Francisco Bay View: National Black Newspaper. May 18, 2005. Retrieved May 23, 2005.
- "Robert Williams's letter to Ambassador Adlai Stevenson", History Is a Weapon.
Film and audio
- Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power (2004) on IMDb
- Deacons for Defense (2003) on IMDb
- Robert F Williams: Self Respect Self Defense and Self Determination; An Audio Documentary as told by Mabel Williams. Audio CD and 84-page booklet. Produced by Freedom Archives. Distributed by AK Press. Retrieved May 23, 2005.
- BlackAcademics radio interview with Mabel Williams about Robert F. Williams' life
- "Story of Old Monroe", ballad by Pete Seeger