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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Radio Free Dixie

by Wiley J. Williams, 2006; Revised by SLNC Government and Heritage Library, May 2023

Radio Free Dixie was an African American, English-language radio program broadcast from Havana, Cuba from 1962 to 1965 that called upon "oppressed Negroes to rise and free themselves." Narrated by Monroe native Robert Franklin Williams, a civil rights and political activist, the show was directed at Black southerners but was heard by listeners all over the United States and Canada. At first Cuban dictator Fidel Castro befriended Williams and his program, which included jazz, blues, and "the new music of freedom," as well as the activist's increasingly revolutionary rhetoric castigating the U.S. government for its tepid pro-civil rights stance and weak protection of African Americans. Williams left Cuba for Beijing in 1965 after the political climate in Cuba began to turn against him. In addition to his radio program, Williams published a civil rights reader, Negroes with Guns (1962), and a Cuban edition of the Crusader, a monthly newsletter.


Timothy B. Tyson, Radio Free Dixie: Robert F. Williams and the Roots of Black Power (1999).

Additional Resources:

Negroes with Guns: Rob Williams and Black Power. Directored by Sandra Dickson and Churchill Roberts. The Documentary Institute, Gainesville, Fla. UNC-TV. January 15, 2007. (accessed August 16, 2012).

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