|Posted by onetarogers on February 28, 2012 at 11:05 PM|
Despite having a film based on "The Deacons Of Defense," with actor Forrest Whitaker portraying Robert Hicks (above)-the story about Robert Hicks and his group-the Deacons for Defense have all but been erased from public consciousness.
You check on familiar touch points like YouTube and there's nothing there. Pictures are hard to find and articles are scant. The thought of armed Black men standing up to the KKK and successfully protecting lives during the harsh days of the Jim Crow South is a scary thought for many. The truth of the matter is many African Americans did not sit back and just allow themselves to be beaten and terrorized by the KKK. Hicks represented an underplayed part of our history.
The passing of Robert Hicks (on April 13, 2010) hasn't really been acknowledged via media outlets.
Mr. Hicks was repeatedly jailed for protesting. He watched as his 15-year-old son was bitten by a police dog. The Klan displayed a coffin with his name on it beside a burning cross. He persisted, his wife said, for one reason: “It was something that needed to be done.”
Someone had called to say the Ku Klux Klan was coming to bomb Robert Hicks’s house. The police said there was nothing they could do. It was the night of Feb. 1, 1965, in Bogalusa, La.
The Klan was furious that Mr. Hicks, a black paper mill worker, was putting up two white civil rights workers in his home. It was just six months after three young civil rights workers had been murdered in Philadelphia, Miss.
Mr. Hicks and his wife, Valeria, made some phone calls. They found neighbors to take in their children, and they reached out to friends for protection. Soon, armed black men materialized. Nothing happened.
Less than three weeks later, the leaders of a secretive, paramilitary organization of blacks called the Deacons for Defense and Justice visited Bogalusa. It had been formed in Jonesboro, La., in 1964 mainly to protect unarmed civil rights demonstrators from the Klan. After listening to the Deacons, Mr. Hicks took the lead in forming a Bogalusa chapter, recruiting many of the men who had gone to his house to protect his family and guests.
By 1968, the Deacons had pretty much vanished. In time they were “hardly a footnote in most books on the civil rights movement.”
Mr. Hicks died of cancer at his home in Bogalusa on April 13 at the age of 81, his wife said. He was one of the last surviving Deacon leaders.
Sources: Mike Jones & The NY Times