On July 10th, 1964, a group of African American men in Jonesboro, Louisiana, led by Earnest”Chilly Willy” Thomas and Fredrick Douglas Kirkpatrick founded the group known as The Deacons for Defense and Justice to defend members of the Congress of Racial Equality(CORE) against Ku Klux Klan violence.
The Deacons became well known for there confrontations with the Klan, causing the Federal Government to intervene on behalf of the African American people in their community. The national attention they garnered also help persuade national officials to initiate efforts to neutralize the Ku Klux Klan in the deep south.
The Deacons had a considerable impact, emerging as one of the new faces for the civil rights movement. However, most of the traditional civil rights organizations didn’t support the deacons because of there willingness to participate in violence, if necessary.
Up to this point, the government, as well as the general public, had become accustomed to a more non-violent approach from its Melanated citizens. The Deacons provided a much-needed protection mechanism at a time when there were none, acting as security at many of the marches in the 1960s, ensuring the safety of the Melanated people involved.
Most importantly, their presence in Southeastern Louisiana meant the Ku Klux Klan could no longer terrorize the community. The Deacons became so effective that The Federal Bureau of Investigation(FBI) decided to authorize an investigation into the group’s activities.
By this time, organizations like The Black Panthers Party became more prevalent taking the national attention off of the Deacons. The Deacons of Defense and Justice serve as a great example to the melanated citizens of this country. Sometimes using organized rebellion represent the only way to fight your oppressor.