“FUCK YOU, NIGGER!”
“You’re gonna die, nigger piece of shit!”
“We’re going to string you up and set you on fire, you fucking nigger!”
It is October 1962.
I am walking across the campus of the University of Mississippi, surrounded by a crowd of screaming young white men.
They are sometimes joined by young white women, freshly scrubbed, lipsticked, and powdered paragons of southern beauty, who run up to me and scream the most filthy combinations of curses you could ever imagine, their faces contorted in paroxysms of rage.
The men surround me in teams by day and spend their nights trying to torment me out of my sleep with noise and threats that continue all night, every night.
I am Public Enemy Number One for every racist in America. I will soon be at the top of a widely circulated “death list” of twelve Americans scheduled for assassination in Mississippi. Death threats are pouring in from across the United States, nearly one thousand so far, many detailing the gruesome ways I will be killed.
Rocks start to fly in my direction, the screaming intensifies, and the crowd surges closer. I am unarmed and wear no protective gear.
But I have no fear, not a molecule of it. The screaming is now a few feet from me, but I hear nothing, only silence. I see no faces. I am traveling in my own world. I am thinking of history, of America’s and my own, of black kings and Indian queens, of vanished ages and empires. I am thinking of generations long dead and far in the future.
I have a slight smile of serenity on my face. I have no fear.
I have no fear because I am a black man in Mississippi and to be so means I am already dead. And a dead man has nothing to fear.
I have no fear because my father sent me on this journey. He guides and inspires my every thought and step. He is invincible, and therefore so am I.
I have no fear because I am an American citizen, heir to a sacred covenant of citizenship bestowed on me by George Washington and the Founding Fathers and Mothers of the nation. Thanks to this covenant, U.S. Army soldiers and federal marshals are traveling right behind me. They are carrying guns. They are supported by a vast arsenal of thousands more guns, jeeps, helicopters, communications gear, and military personnel plugged into the most awesome instrument of physical force the world has ever seen—the American military machine.
I am literally the baddest dude on Planet Earth, more heavily guarded than the president of the United States. I am the biblical David armed with the physical force of thirty thousand Goliaths.
The mob pushes closer. I am serene, completely at peace, focused like a laser on the destination of my journey, a classroom a few hundred yards in the distance.
I am a Zen samurai. I am invincible. Nothing can harm me.
I have been put on Earth for a reason, to restore the power and glory to my bloodline, and to all Americans.
I am not a civil rights activist, I am not a protester, and I am not a pacifist. I am not a Republican and I am not a Democrat. My political affiliation is Black.
I am an American citizen, and a son of Mississippi.
I am a warrior.
And I am on a mission from God.