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The Greensboro Massacre
December 7, 2004 10:27 AM   Subscribe

Greensboro, NC, a relatively progressive southern city, is not without it’s own skeletons.

“On Nov. 3, 1979, Klansmen and Nazis pulled rifles and pistols from the trunks of their cars and opened fire on a group of anti-Ku Klux Klan marchers in the Morningside Homes neighborhood of Greensboro, N.C. Five of the demonstrators were killed by the bullets and several others were injured. The victims had close ties with the local Communist Worker’s Party..”

The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Project, the first of it’s kind in the United States, using the concept of restorative justice, “seeks to heal relations between opposing sides by uncovering all pertinent facts, distinguishing truth from lies, and allowing for acknowledgement, appropriate public mourning, forgiveness and healing.” ( a little more inside)
posted by lyam (34 comments total)

 
"Most of the local and national mainstream press portrayed the murders as a shootout between armed extremist groups. The facts, however, reveal the police knew beforehand that the demonstrators would be unarmed and that, according to informant Edward Dawson, the Klansmen would be carrying weapons."

An all white jury cleared both Nazi and Klan members of all charges in two criminal trials.


posted by lyam at 10:28 AM on December 7, 2004


Ok, well... Congratulate me on screwing up my first post!

Links follow:
relatively
progressive
southern city
skeletons
The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Project
restorative justice

bleah
posted by lyam at 10:35 AM on December 7, 2004


It's okay, lyam, I wouldn't be surprised if the Administrator Hopes You... (MeFi InJoke)

Good post. We do need to be reminded regularly that this kind of Evil never really went away...
posted by wendell at 10:45 AM on December 7, 2004


Was anyone elses' first thought on reading "Truth and Reconciliation" Halo?

No? Ooohkay.


Greensboro is about 20 minutes away from here.
posted by odinsdream at 10:52 AM on December 7, 2004


Very good first post, regardless of the HTML contained therein.

I'd love to hear about other projects like this, past and present, in the entire US, not just the south.
posted by thirdparty at 10:53 AM on December 7, 2004


this kind of Evil never really went away

Well put. Both Communists and Klansmen survive to this day.
posted by trharlan at 11:09 AM on December 7, 2004


Eh, tharlan, while Communism has caused considerable suffering abroad, American Communists were more deluded and muddleheaded than actually dangerous, if only for their ineffectiveness. As illustrated by this story, the Klan is a whole different kettle of fish.
posted by jonmc at 11:19 AM on December 7, 2004


Neither of which are inherently evil. The evil is reflected in the actions of both those who participated in the bloodshed, and the authorities who looked the other way.
posted by lyam at 11:19 AM on December 7, 2004


@trharlan
posted by lyam at 11:19 AM on December 7, 2004


upon re-reading my comments I may have to modify my statement. I do find the Klan abhorent in philosophy and principle. I cannot think of a single positive contribution coming from that organization. So, maybe they are a little evil..
posted by lyam at 11:24 AM on December 7, 2004


That was freaky, seeing Greensboro on the FP. (My arse is in Greensboro right this dang minute!). Of course, this whole thing is being denigrated by local right wing columnists as harping on the past, and say it will only cause further divisiveness in our community.

But the Mayor is pretty much spearheading this thing, so we got that going for us. I love my little city, being not only the birthplace of Civil Rights Sit-ins, Vicks Vapo-rub, and Rick Dees, but also nestled comfortably in the middle of a Blue County.

There are books covering the Greensboro Massacre if you're so inclined...
posted by glenwood at 11:54 AM on December 7, 2004


BTW, Lyam occupies the city who's centerpiece is one of the largest chairs in the world. Woohoo!
posted by glenwood at 11:55 AM on December 7, 2004


God, I hate the south. I'm pretty convinced that Greensboro, Chapel Hill and Charlotte are the only livable islands in North Carolina.
posted by borkingchikapa at 11:57 AM on December 7, 2004


Borking, I'm sorry that you hate things. You may also want to visit Asheville, Wilmington, Durham, Raleigh, Winston Salem to see places not to hate. We have lots of neat places to go full of wonderful people. I know. I live here. I even moved to NYC once. Then I moved back.
posted by glenwood at 12:10 PM on December 7, 2004


From the Greensboro Reconciliation Project site:

What if America’s cities – especially Southern cities – stopped ignoring the skeletons in their closets?

What if pigs starting flying out my arse?

Virgil Griffin, one of the leaders of the Klan group at the Greensboro massacre, was in Raleigh earlier this year demonstrating with various other white-supremacist groups. My now-defunct publication covered the even and our writers spoke to both him and Dr. Michael Nathan's widow (Nathan was one of the victims). It's chilling to realize how recent all of this is.

God, I hate the south. I'm pretty convinced that Greensboro, Chapel Hill and Charlotte are the only livable islands in North Carolina.

I hate the south, too, but those are some odd choices. Greensboro is a soulless sucking hole of a town with little to distinguish it. Charlotte is one giant office park. I'd rank Asheville and maybe even Raleigh over either one.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:12 PM on December 7, 2004


Thank you for the corrected list, glenwood. Neither Greensboro nor Charlotte are on my I-wanna-live-in list. Ugh. :)
posted by yoga at 12:14 PM on December 7, 2004


Greensboro is a soulless sucking hole of a town with little to distinguish it.

Very nice. Way to be a hateful snob, especially in a thread populated by people who live around here and happen to like it.
posted by glenwood at 12:14 PM on December 7, 2004


yoga, I hate to seem overzealous, but Greensboro has really come a long way if you haven't been here in a while. It's particularly nice if you're a progressive-type with kids.
posted by glenwood at 12:17 PM on December 7, 2004


Glenwood, my current residence, Wilmington, is also a soulless sucking hole of a town with little to distinguish it. Call me hateful if you'd like, but don't call me a snob.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:18 PM on December 7, 2004


@glenwood

Indeed. I've lived in quite a few differnt places all up and down the east coast and I've decided that the Piedmont Triad is my home. re: the largest chair, well that's up in the air right. It's funny how many people I know don't make the connection between Thomasville and Thomasville Furniture Industries. "Oh that Thomasville!"

@borkingchikapa

What about Asheville? What about Wilmington? Some of the rural communities in and around Pittsboro are pretty cool, too. etc...

On preview:

What glenwood said.

@Ishmael

I guess we are at a difference of opinons then (re: Greensboro). Alot of my college friends thought the same way and moved away. I find it to be a quietly subversive little community with growing connections to various musical, artistic and literary communities. Sure Wendover sucks, but that kind of sprawl is not unique to Greensboro.
posted by lyam at 12:18 PM on December 7, 2004


Call me hateful if you'd like, but don't call me a snob.

I meant you were being snobby. I don't know you and wouldn't want to say you are a snob as that would be unfair.

But what exactly are you looking for re:distinguishing features? Why don't you move? Why don't you do something to help make your community more distinguishable? Not attacking, but I love the south. I love the punk rock scene I grew up in. I love the Quaker meeting we attend with our family. I love my son's progressive, public magnet school. Sorry if I get a little defensive at the constant charactrizing of my home town as wal-martville by people who are mad they don't live in NYC.
posted by glenwood at 12:25 PM on December 7, 2004


Having recently moved to Raleigh from VA (Richmond) I can definitely say I won't be going back. It ain't perfection, but I've seen and felt more sense of community in the three years I've spent here in the sprawl-choked capital city than I ever felt in over three decades in genteel ol' Richmond.

And I'll second (third?) the props to Asheville.

/CarolinaFilter
posted by Pdubby at 12:40 PM on December 7, 2004


But what exactly are you looking for re:distinguishing features?

Media, music, education, arts, or culture which ascends above the mediocre.

Why don't you move?

Because I can't afford to.

Why don't you do something to help make your community more distinguishable?

I did. I've spent the last nine months giving myself an ulcer attempting to start an alt-weekly here (which became an alt-fortnightly) while working two jobs to pay the bills. We called it quits last week after burning through all our money and then some.

Sorry if I get a little defensive at the constant charactrizing of my home town as wal-martville by people who are mad they don't live in NYC.

And I'm sorry if, as one of those people, I get a little defensive when I'm expected to participate in the hard-core regional boosterism which seems to be expected of me by Southerners.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 12:49 PM on December 7, 2004


IshmaelGraves said:
I'm sorry if, as one of those people, I get a little defensive when I'm expected to participate in the hard-core regional boosterism which seems to be expected of me by Southerners.

I'm from Michigan... Anyway, I think it's a matter of scale. NC is home to a really great cultural scene. It's just relatively small when compared to that of say.... San Francisco. Sorry about your alt-weekly. Anyway, another great way of making sure that a culture you enjoy becomes established is to, well, support it. There are wonderful movie theaters, coffe shops, stage theaters, clubs, bars, musical venues, zoos, fairs, carnivals, restaurants, book stores, etc... in almost every city I've been to in NC.

/Going to see SantaLand Diaries by David Sedaris at Triad Stage this Thursday.
posted by lyam at 1:09 PM on December 7, 2004


So, IshmaelGraves, you live in a soulless sucking hole of a town with little to distinguish it as far as Media, music, education, arts, or culture which ascends above the mediocre are concerned and you decide to start an alt-weekly?

That don't make much sense to this here southern boy.

FWIW: Go Guilford College Fighting Quakers!
posted by Rawhide at 1:23 PM on December 7, 2004


I'd sooner support throwing murderers and accomplices in jail, personally.
posted by Space Coyote at 3:26 PM on December 7, 2004


WOOH! Asheville represent! Just to throw my two cents in, since moving to NC in 1993 I have only lived in Chapel Hill and now Asheville but I can't imagine living in any other city in this state. Granted, I am not a big city person, but still. Charlotte? And IshmaelGraves is right, Wilmington sucks.
posted by Who_Am_I at 3:51 PM on December 7, 2004


My now-defunct publication

The Spectator? I miss The Spectator, The Independent seems more hard core to me, more humorless for sure.

A call out to my homies in Garner! Yow Zah! Homies? homies?

And lyam, you are a lucky dog . They were sold out again before I even knew he was coming to Raleigh. Mr. Fancy Pants French Boy needs to come home more often for longer periods of time, damn it!
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 4:53 PM on December 7, 2004


lyam, you may just see me there. i'm the white guy.
posted by glenwood at 5:45 PM on December 7, 2004


God, I hate the south.

Because DC has no problems, huh? I can only imagine if a city in the south had elected a crack head for mayor...

Media, music, education, arts, or culture which ascends above the mediocre.

American music...athens was huge in the 80s. And let's not forget blues and jazz, just two little genres maybe you've heard about. Culture? Have you been to new orleans? I could go on, but it's there if you want to find it. Or you could just, you know, complain.

I've never understood people who 'hate' an entire anything. Nothing good in the south...I hate EVERYTHING.

Really, it says a lot more about the people who feel the need to make such statements than it does about the south.

It must suck to be that miserable, even worse for people who know them.
posted by justgary at 6:59 PM on December 7, 2004


I'm sorry. I must be in the wrong place. I thought this was a thread about a serious miscarriage of justice and an effort to right it. You all suck, SantaLand Diary tickets or not.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 7:21 PM on December 7, 2004


Yeah, well.. Seriously off-topic comments aside.. (starting to look like a fark thread)

It would be nice to see justice be done regarding the Greensboro Massacre. The problem is, those involved have already been tried and found not-guilty. The Truth and Reconciliation program is an attempt to create an open dialog in an effort to bring to light, well, the truth. It may very well be that if enough progress is made, the DOJ could open an investigation and then justice might be done.

This is a start. And even if it ends there, much good could come from it.
posted by lyam at 5:09 AM on December 8, 2004


So, IshmaelGraves, you live in a soulless sucking hole of a town [snip] and you decide to start an alt-weekly?

That don't make much sense to this here southern boy.


Yes, well, hence the 'now-defunct.'

The Spectator? I miss The Spectator, The Independent seems more hard core to me, more humorless for sure.

No, it was Wilmington-only.

At any rate, getting back to the topic at hand: best of luck to the Truth and Reconciliation folks (even if the name of their organization does sound like the people that kick in your door at 4 AM and haul you off to the gulag). I'm not optimistic about people's willingness to confront the past in this way, though.

To this day the average Wilmingtonian seems to think that the blacks had it coming to them in 1898 (there was a coup, an uncertain number of people were killed, others were run out of town, the black newspaper was burned to the ground, and a new all-white government was self-appointed). I still get dirty looks at work (at a local history organization, mind you) for even mentioning the coup. As a local history person I'm inclined to think that a deep awareness of history and one's place in it is a good thing, but I can't help wondering if the refusal to let things go and view the past as the past is an inextricable component of that awareness.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:25 AM on December 8, 2004


What about a civil suit, by a relative of one of the victims, etc? They can do that, no?
posted by amberglow at 10:13 AM on December 8, 2004


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