America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 25

" The great object " of the amendment is to " restrain the power of the states and compel them in all times to respect these
great fundamental guarantees ... secured by the first eight
amendments of the Constitution [including] the right to keep
and bear arms. " -Sen. Jacob M. Howard (1805-1871)
agents that the right to arms was a
paramount concern for those newly
freed in the territory where they
were recently enslaved.
By the end of the 19th century,
the importance of repeating rifles to
Black people was so well-established
that storied anti-lynching advocate,
Ida B. Wells, would declare, " A Winchester rifle should have a place of
honor in every Black home. "
Wells' praise of the Winchester
was not empty rhetoric, and her perspective was not just historical. She
was referencing two recent episodes,
one in Jacksonville, Fla., and one
in Paducah, Ky., where well-armed
Black people thwarted lynch mobs.
Wells drew similar lessons from
Black people using repeating technology in self-defense in Oklahoma.
Seven months before she arrived,
Black men wielding Winchester
rifles defied a mob to rescue Edwin
McCabe, the Black founder of
Langston, Okla., who had the grand
vision of becoming governor. After
mobs in Memphis had lynched her
best friend and sacked her newspaper, Wells traveled there in search
of a more hospitable environment
where she might recommend Black
people to migrate.
Wells' exhortation was heeded by
countless men and women who faced
petty tyranny and mobs during the
first century of Black citizenship in
America. And hers was not an isolated
voice. The commitment to armed
self-defense and the deployment of
multi-shot and multi-projectile firearms was common from the leadership to the grassroots.
After the 1906 Atlanta race riot,
W.E.B. Du Bois described buying a
Winchester shotgun " and two dozen
rounds of shells fi lled with buckshot, " as defense against roving
mobs. Du Bois' future compatriot at
Photos: Wikipedia

the National Association of Colored
People (NAACP), Walter White, was
only a boy at the time of the Atlanta
riot, but he vividly recounted
crouching with his father in a darkened parlor, clutching a rifle as
a mob descended on his Atlanta
neighborhood.
Du Bois and White pulled heavy
oars at the burgeoning NAACP.
Du Bois was the intellectual force
behind the organization's flagship Crisis magazine. White would
lead the NAACP for more than two
decades, into the 1950s. So, it is not
surprising that the NAACP cut its
teeth as an organization defending
Black people who had used guns to
defend themselves against mobs and
majoritarian tyranny.
The first major litigation supported
by the NAACP was the 1910 self-defense case of Pink Franklin. Franklin's troubles stemmed from his quest
for better wages. He had agreed to
work for a planter, but then quit to
take a better job. This sort of thing
is common practice today and was
equally common then, at least for
white people. But in 1910, for Black
sharecroppers like Pink Franklin, the
pursuit of better pay was restricted by
a special category of agricultural contract governed by the South Carolina
Criminal Code. The law was basically a renewed version of the Black
Codes that the defeated Confederates
attempted to enforce against freedmen immediately after the Civil War.
The law said that sharecroppers who
broke labor agreements with planters could be fined and jailed. Black
contract-breakers who could not pay
their fines, or their growing fees from
incarceration, could then be sold off
into the convict labor system, virtually slaves again.
After Franklin left his first boss for
better pay at another farm, the jilted

employer swore out a warrant for his
arrest. One dark morning around
3 a.m., government men descended
on Franklin's shanty. Stories disagree on the details, but, basically,
Franklin said he was surprised in
the dark by strange men in his bedroom. Franklin said when one of
them fired at him, he rolled to the
repeating rifle he kept in the corner
and came up shooting. A surviving constable, however, claimed
that the doors to Franklin's house
and bedroom were ajar; that they
entered and were attacked by Franklin. There was agreement on the fact
that Franklin shot two constables,
one of them fatally.
Pink Franklin was convicted of
murder and sentenced to death. The
NAACP supported Franklin's appeal
to the U.S. Supreme Court and lobbied the governor to commute his
sentence. The advocacy and lobbying
continued for nearly a decade, and
Franklin was finally released in 1919.
Benjamin Tyler Henry developed
the Henry rifle in 1860, a firearm
many used for self-defense.

AMERICA'S 1 ST FREEDOM I FEBRUARY 2021

25



America's First Freedom - February 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of America's First Freedom - February 2021

Contents
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - CW1
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - CW2
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - Cover1
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - Cover2
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 1
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - Contents
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 3
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 4
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 5
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 6
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 7
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 8
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 9
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 10
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 11
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 12
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 13
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 14
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 15
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 16
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 17
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 18
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 19
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 20
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 21
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 22
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 23
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 24
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 25
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 26
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 27
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 28
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 29
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 30
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 31
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 32
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 33
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 34
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 35
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 36
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 37
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 38
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 39
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 40
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 41
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 42
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 43
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 44
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 45
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 46
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 47
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 48
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 49
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 50
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 51
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 52
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 53
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 54
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 55
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 56
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - Cover3
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - Cover4
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - CW3
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - CW4
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