Robert F. Williams

By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — One of the lesser publicized, but key figures in the Civil Rights Movement, is Robert F. Williams. He was president of the Monroe, North Carolina chapter in the early 60s. Unlike most other NAACP presidents, Williams believed in confrontation rather than non-violent civil disobedience. His 1962 book “Negroes with Guns” triggered FBI interest in and they began monitoring his activity. Eventually he was forced into exile. Williams went to Cuba, and developed a radio show that was getting so much international attention the government had the signal jammed.

This week actor Barry Pepper’s company Peace River Productions announced they were doing a biopic on Williams. “Negroes With Guns” will be directed by Jason Cabell, who will double as principal screenwriter according to Deadline magazine. The film chronicles Williams’ time with the NAACP in North Carolina, his battles against the Klan and his clashes with local, state and federal officials. It will also spotlight his time in Cuba and his radio show, as well as his involvement with various anti-racist movements around the world.

Williams’ book “Negroes with Guns” was also used in the 2004 documentary “Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power.” Pepper will be part of the cast, but not the lead. No decision has yet been made on who will play Williams.