An interesting read
Robert F. Williams, "Negroes With Guns" (1962, reprinted 1998)
Williams was a local civil rights leader during the desperate and dangerous times of the early 60's. At one point the tiny NAACP chapter to which he belonged proposed to disband. He objected, so the others elected him president and then all but one resigned, leaving Williams head of a one-man chapter. A veteran himself, he focused on recruiting other black vets and soon rebuilt the chapter.
When the Klan came shooting, it soon found that its targets shot back. A Klan cavalcade (sort of a mass drive-by shooting) came to shoot up the home of the vice-president of the chapter, and found a number of members in sandbagged positions with rifles. After a gunfight, the Klan abandoned that approach (and the City Council, which had never done so before, required the Klan to get a permit for future appearances -- this was in 1957, remember). The book has pics of his group with their arms, of headlines ("CITIZENS FIRE BACK AT KLAN"). It's also worthwhile as a reminder of just how bad things really were back then -- a 7 year old sent to a reformatory for 12 years because a white girl had kissed him on the cheek, people murdered and raped with complete legal impunity, Williams himself forced to flee the country by a false kidnapping charge, government officials alternately trying to bribe him and threatening to murder him, etc. Anyway, here's a brief passage that is very interesting:
"Luther Hodges ... was the governor of South Carolina at the time. We appealed to him. He took sides with the Klan.... Then we appealed to President Eisenhower but we never received a reply to our telegrams. There was no response at all from Washington.
So we started arming ourselves. I wrote to the National Rifle Association in Washington which encourages veterans to keep in shape to defend their native land and asked for a chapter, which I got. In a year we had sixty members. We had bought some guns, too, in stores, and later a church in the North raised money for us and we got better rifles. The Klan discovered we were arming and guarding our community. In the summer of 1957 they made one big attempt to stop us. An armed motorcade attacked Dr. Perry's house, which is situated on the outskirts of the colored community. We shot it out with the Klan and repelled their attack and the Klan didn't have any more stomach for this type of fight. They stopped raiding our community."
BTW, (1)that's by no means the only time Williams and his friends had to use firearms to defend themselves, and (2) there was no sense calling the police, since two police cars were in the Klan cavalcade!
The intro and forward go into the debates between Williams and Martin Luther King over self-defense in the late 1950s. They suggest that King's position actually agreed with Williams (self-defense was necessary to prevent terror from destroying the civil rights movement, was moral, and it was necessary to self-respect), and that he rather created a straw man by implying that Williams wanted to use force offensively (based on a slip of the tongue, when Williams was speaking angrily of a case where a white who had raped a black woman in front of many witnesses was still acquitted).