Robert F. Williams: Let It Burn

Robert F. Williams (February 26, 1925 – October 15, 1996) was a bad brother from Monroe, North Carolina who was fed up with a legal system that not only turned a blind eye to the extermination of Black people, but also advocated and took part in this extermination. As president of the Monroe chapter of the NAACP, Robert embarked on ceaseless attempts to bring the murders of Black people to court, but to no avail. Understanding this reality of what “American Justice” was all about, Robert organized armed patrols of the Black community to defend the community against the terror that was inflicted on the African community in Monroe. For this act, the Negro Bourgeoisie leadership of the NAACP promptly expelled Robert from the organization; while at the same time (as is the case today) never once castigating the murderers of Black people but quick to check those Black people who did not settle for injustice with a smile.

Robert, falsely accused by the FBI of kidnapping in 1961, fled the U.S. and went into exile first in Cuba and then China. While in Cuba, Robert produced the highly influential broadcast Radio Free Dixie, which was created as a way for Robert to properly inform Africans in the U.S. about the political happenings in the world. Robert returned to the U.S. in 1969, and later in 1975, all charges were dropped against him. He lived out the rest of his days in Baldwin, Michigan. Robert who served in the United States armed forces (who would later expound on the connections between the racism he experienced in the armed forces and its purpose as an imperial instrument to oppress people throughout the world), would be buried not with the U.S. flag draped on his casket, but with that of the Pan-African flag (Red, Black, and Green). RIGHT ON ROBERT!

Robert’s life epitomizes that if the colonial master is incapable of giving you justice (which is a constituent element of the relationship between the colonizer and their colonial subjects) then you must create/take that justice for yourself. Robert F. Williams, a true paragon of justice and pride for African people throughout the world.

Let It Burn, is an interview conducted by Robert Carl Cohen in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania in 1968, while Robert F. Williams was still in exile. Cohen went on to write a book on the life of Robert F. Williams called Black Crusader: A Biography of Robert F. Williams. We here at Conscientization 101 do not endorse this book as we have not read the book, and upon watching this interview noticed that Cohen’s line of questioning towards Robert was antagonistic. We can on the other hand recommend, and endorse (being that we have read it), Robert’s own work entitled Negroes with Guns; a work that had a profound influence on the Black Panther Party. If you get a chance to read Cohen’s book and find it a worthwhile study, please drop us a line and let us know.

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