Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom

By William H. Chafe | Go to book overview

Epilogue for the Paperback Edition

On November 3, 1979, Greensboro became the site once again of confrontation and violence. The Communist Worker's Party (CWP)--a small Maoist sect which included among its members Nelson Johnson and at least one other Greensboro activist of the 1960's--had organized a "Death to the Klan" rally. The demonstration represented an effort to provide dramatic focus to an ongoing attempt to build a biracial, class- based struggle against the textile magnates and bankers whom CWP members saw as the primary enemies of social and economic justice. Frustrated by their failure to make rapid strides in mobilizing workers, CWP members hoped that a highly publicized march against the Klan might provide a vehicle to attract new recruits. Consequently, they challenged Klan members to appear at the rally and answer to "the people's" judgment. Instead, Klan and Nazi supporters delivered their own judgment. Arriving with a virtual arsenal of weapons, KKK and Nazi party members--after a brief scuffle--opened fire on CWP followers. Eighty-eight seconds later, five CWP demonstrators lay dead.

At the time, Greensboro's white leaders insisted that the violence had nothing to do with Greensboro itself. Race relations in the city were good, they said. This was simply a case of an enlightened community being victimized by two extremist groups seeking to use the city for their own purposes.

Nine months later, six Klan and Nazi party members were put on trial, charged with first degree murder and a series of lesser crimes, including inciting to riot. Prosecutors relied heavily on videotapes of the slayings which showed, among other things, one defendant pumping

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Civilities and Civil Rights: Greensboro, North Carolina, and the Black Struggle for Freedom
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Contents xiii
  • Introduction 3
  • Part I Years of Protest 11
  • Chapter One - Inch by Inch----- 13
  • Chapter Two - the Politics of Moderation 42
  • Chapter Three - the Sit-Ins Begin 71
  • Chapter Four - a Time of Testing 102
  • Chapter Five - "My Feet Took Wings" 119
  • Part II Years of Polarization 153
  • Chapter Six - "We Will Stand Pat" 155
  • Chapter Seven - Black Power 172
  • Chapter Eight the End or the Beginning 203
  • Chapter Nine Struggle and Ambiguity 237
  • Epilogue for the Paperback Edition 251
  • Notes 255
  • A Note on Sources 269
  • Index 275
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