Monday, March 21, 2005

Join the dialogue

The primary goal of the truth and reconciliation process is to strengthen Greensboro for the future. Mandated to present specific recommendations for community healing in its final report, the Commission needs to hear a variety of perspectives. With that in mind, what is your vision for a better Greensboro?


Anonymous Ed Cone said...

Glad y'all are blogging. Keep at it.


8:41 PM  
Blogger Admin said...

What Ed said. Glad you're here!

9:44 PM  
Blogger Brandon said...

Glad to see this blog is around. Look forward to updates as I have been trying to follow this process, Brandon

6:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why is the shootout and the events leading up to it viewed as a racial conflict? I always thought it was a clash between political extremes, the right against the left, Nazis and KKK against communists and labor organizers, instead of a black/white issue. CONFUSED!

9:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would the shootout have even happened if the march organizers had not challenged the KKK to come? Not saying the victims deserved to be shot, just asking if they would still be alive today if they had not issued that fatal invitation.

10:59 AM  
Blogger The GTRC said...

Thanks for all of the support and questions. The Commission has just started its research process and is in the process of asking all of the questions listed here and many more. Because we are still in our research phase, we can't yet respond with thoughtful answers here, but we are very interested in hearing what other visitors to this site have to say. So, can anyone else venture a response to our "anonymous" questioners?

2:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Disappointed in your answer! How can there be a dialogue if you aren't going to respond?

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Commission is gathering all the diverse and differing facts to help answer such questions. Any such comments from the Commission would not be an informed answer based on their complete research and community testimony.
That is their role as an independent and objective Commission. (I have no connection with the Commission.)

All that said it is very easy to answer the above question about -"Would the deaths have occurred on Nov. 3rd if the CWP/WVO had not repeatedly challenged the Klan and held a Death to the Klan March?" The historic record is clear: The Klan came to Greensboro as a response to the CWP's repeated challenges. If the CWP had not directly challenged the Klan the Klan would never had shown up on Nov. 3rd and no one would have died on Nov. 3rd.

The extremely poor judgement of the CWP, however, was no reason for people to have been shot and killed. The police and Federal Agents knew that violence would occur from their own informant and internal reports. The failure of law enforcement to stop the violence of Nov. 3rd remains a central part of story. This is why the third trial found negligent and liable Commander Paul Spoon; Detective Jerry Cooper, informant Ed Dawson along with Klan/Nazi members Mark Sherer, David Matthews, Jerry Smith, Wayne Wood and Jack Fowler. This group paid $394,959.55 for their wrongful actions. I think, the actual check was paid by the City of Greensboro.

6:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me see if I get this right. The Commission doesn't have to respond until they complete their studies so they can give an informed answer. But they're pressuring the Greensboro City Council to take a position right now before that information is available to the council. Different strokes for different folks?

8:23 AM  
Anonymous Mark Sills said...

As a member of the Commission, I'd like to remind anonymous that there are two totally separate groups in town, both having the phrase "Truth and Reconciliation" in their name. It is the Truth and Community Reconciliation PROJECT that is working to build public support. This includes a request for City Council to support the Commission's work. The Truth and Reconciliation COMMISSION has nothing to do with this effort. Frankly, as an individual member of the Commission, I don't care what position the City Council takes until our work is done. At that point, when our report is finished and our recommendations are offered to the community, I do hope the Council will take our work seriously. I hope all sectors of our community will take the time to read our report, and will study and act wisely on our recommendations. Whether there is value in what we do will be determined largely by the reaction of the community once the work is done. However, there is real value also in the very process of asking questions, listening respectfully and carefully to those who have statements to give, and thinking critically about each aspect of this event, it's context, and it's lasting impact on our community. We invite anyone, anywhere who may have insight into the events of November 3rd, or information that will help us more fully understand the context and/or impact of those events to contact our office and arrange for an interview.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a world of rich and wonderful literature about economic alternatives, economic justice, political change and socialism. I have heard that the CWP/WVO group during 1978 and 1979 regularly studied and became influenced by what appears to be the "very worst" of this literature called "A Basic Understanding of the Communist Party of China."
( see )

Did they actually take this seriously and study these words? Were they that insulated from real critical thought and true dialogue that they found insight in such absolute nonsense. How do they, twenty-five years later, view this literature? Such a piece, that may have influenced the actions of the CWP/WVO, certainly damages the authentic efforts at democratic socialism and true economic justice. Did they actually believe, accept and follow the teachings found in "A Basic Understanding of the Communist Party of China?" Will this be discussed when the survivors testify before the Commission?

Did I post these comments at the proper blog location? Can you better explain why the Commission has two blog sites?

5:23 PM  
Blogger emily harwell said...

Thanks to 'anonymous' for a thoughtful question(Yes, you posted in the right place. We only have one blog--not sure what other blog you mean...).

As research director, I'd like to respond that the question of CWP ideology is an important one that we will explore in our interviews with former CWP members and others. As far as whether it will be a subject of public hearing testimony, it is too soon to say who will be participating and what the content of their public statements will be. But I can promise that I will raise it as possible area of focus, but because of time limits and the range of possible topics, I can't guarantee that it will be covered.
But I am grateful that you posted it here and I invite everyone reading the blog to post any nagging questions you have about the Nov 3, its causes, and aftermath that you would like us to investigate. I can't guarantee we will find one iron-clad Truth, but I can guarantee we'll do our best to shed light on issues of concern to the community. Concerned about bias? This is YOUR Commission--Tell us what your burning questions are!

11:52 AM  
Blogger ill ridge said...

Questions: 1) Why was the Klan challenged by the CWP when they were not prepared to do battle?
2) Whose idea was it to provoke the Klan?
3) What was the REAL reason that intelligence agencies were involved with both groups, yet there was no law
enforcement to maintain order?
4) Why were the police not on the scene?
5) Why was the march begun in The Grove- Black community?
6) Was the overall community aware of the march and/or the threats made to the Klan?
7) Why were there no convictions?
8) Why were the jurors all white?

11:06 AM  
Blogger Jerry L. McClough said...

Where are the answers to those questions that Ill Ridge have ?

Does anyone have the answers to those?

We not only need to know the truth about 26 years ago, Everyone also need to know the truth about what's going on today !

How about lets begin to get that truth out so we can begin reconcile !

12:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope the reconciliation includes apologies from Nelson Johnson and his co-conspirators for bringing this terror to Greensboro in the first place. THEY are the ones who chose the site in a black neighborhood and taunted the Klan to come. THEY are the ones who caused this and ruined Greenboro's image forever.

8:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The PBS program Frontline did a documentary on Nov. 3rd called "88 Seconds in Greensboro" in 1983. Television reporter Laura Blumenthal viewed the entire Nov. 3rd incident and under hypnosis she remembered much that she had blocked from her memory due to the horror of that day. Her testimony is below. Is she available to the Commission for testimony? Will you try to find someone like Laura and try to get her before the Commission?

During the trial, the court authorized the defense to interview, under hypnosis, a local television reporter named Laura Blumenthal. Hypnosis revived her subconscious feeling that the Communists had brought this upon themselves and this became powerful court testimony for the Klan.



Hypnotist: Very deeply ... Laura I want you to go back to this date, November 3.

Blumenthal: I know what's comin'. I know what's comin'! People start fighting with the sticks that they had ... those posters on. And shots ... and I don't know where they're comin' from. I heard one hit Bloom's car window because I heard it shatter. And I was really scared.

Shots, more shots! Shots are coming from both sides now. I just ... wanted them ... to stop ... shooting! Squealing tires ... I thought, we can get out now. I can get out from under the car. So I got out. Brushed myself off and went around in front of the car. Three people were there, three. One guy on the left -- put my hand on his shoulder and said, "Are you OK?" He turned around and looked at me and he'd been shot. He had blood on his head. I'd never seen anybody get shot. And the guy, he had a really ... big piece ... of his head ... gone. And that blood, a huge pool of blood, and his broken glasses.

And this black woman came over. And she said to me, "Put your hand over the hole in his head. And I said, "You kiss my ass! You started this shit. You put your hand over the hole in his head!"

The guy over against the building, his wife had been looking for him. I couldn't believe it. She went over, put his head in her arms and started yelling about the Klan. "You Klan! This is my husband! Those motherfucking Klan came in here." And her husband's layin' there dying while those paramedics worked on him and she's yelling about the Klan. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it. Across the street it was the same thing. We got her on tape. "Long live the Communist Workers' Party. And long live the working class! And in spite of you goddamn cops, revolution!" She was hollerin' at the police, hollerin' at 'em. I thought these people were fuckin' crazy. They're crazy.

12:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My advise is to get over it, stop keeping it alive. By keeping this thing alive you are only keeping the races apart. In my opinion, when you have a rally, and you call it DEATH TO THE KLAN, what the hell do you people think is going to happen? Anybody with any sense would of stayed home that day. I did. If there is a rally in the future called DEATH to anything or anyone, stay at home.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous right above, it sounds like your advise is good advise. We in the community can only hear such direct advise through this process of community dialogue. So rather than "get over it" lets keep learning from each other. That is the point of all of our history classes.

7:45 PM  
Blogger Jerry L. McClough said...

We all know the truth,however the rest of the world do not. The same things that went on 26 years ago are sill going on today. Where do we go from here? What does the future hold? The earth is my mother also!

7:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

jerry when did the CWP invite the Klan back to town, or something similar and people were shot in Greensboro?
"The same things that went on 26 years ago are sill going on today."
Enlighten me please because I must of missed it.

11:03 AM  
Blogger Jerry L. McClough said...

Mr or Mrs. Anonymous my comments are inference to the Economic Injustice, Poverty, and Racismn issuses that we face today.

2:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Commission has a tremendous tasks to hear testimony and sort through all of the stories about Nov. 3rd. Even those who are stating that they will not get involved, hate the process or want the process to disappear are actually just part of the discussion and the process.

Those trying to understand more about Nov. 3rd should check out "Codename Greenkil The 1979 Greensboro Killings" by Elizabeth Wheaton.
This University of Georgia Press 1987 book is by far the best book on Nov. 3rd. Copies are at the Greensboro Library and used copies can be ordered at Amazon and other web book sellers.

It will be interesting if the Commission can really add in any significant way to Elizabeth's thorough explanation. They, however, should be able to help the community better accept Elizabeth's conclusions:

"The full story of the Greensboro killings may never be revealed, not because there is a lack of information but because there are a multiplicity of perspectives from which we can view the available facts. It is as though we were looking through a kaleidoscope and the events fell into one pattern when view through the CWP's perspective, another through that of the Klan and Nazis, and yet another through that of the police and federal agents. Each pattern has its own logic, but when they are superimposed, the image becomes a jumble of contradictions and conflict. One can only see that there are no heroes in this story; thee are many, many fools."

11:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry for the typo error above.

Wheaton's last sentence is:
"One can only see that there are no heroes in this story; there are many, many fools."

8:42 AM  
Blogger ill ridge said...

If the shootout happened in say, Starmount, would the Klan perpetrators or for that matter the CWP have gotten away scott free wihtout any convictions? If not for the killings at least for the danger to innocent bystanders and discharging firearms in public? Wouldn't the police have been there in full force? Each of us needs to answer the question honestly for ourselves.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The mostly white CWP were callous and racist in their decision to have the March begin in Morningside Homes. It remains an inexcusable mistake that the Greensboro Police Department approved the March route.

The Police decision was part of their institutional racism. They would never have allowed this dangerous March to occur in Irving Park.

Both the survivors of Nov. 3rd and the Greensboro Police Department should publicly apologize to the former residences of Morningside Homes for perpetrating this horror on their community.

I hope this will be a specific recommendation of the Commission who have a responsibility for those in our community who have long been ignored.

The only innocent people on Nov. 3rd were those who had to endure this horror right outside their window.

4:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The not guilty verdicts in the two trials are mentioned a lot. Folks keep trying to blame Greensboro for those verdicts, but they were independently reached by two separate groups of citizens. Did any of those jurors ever explain why they decided like they did? Will they be part of this process?

9:25 PM  
Anonymous Jill Williams said...

Dear Anonymous,
This is a great question. We do intend to speak with jurors from all three cases. We will be actively seeking out these folks a little later in our process, but would be eager to talk with any who come forward now. Please keep sharing your ideas of people from whom we should be hearing and questions we should be asking. It is on the basis of your suggestions that we are continually shaping this process.

Jill Williams
Executive Director

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last night's vote by the City Council was a damaging blow to the legitimacy of the work of the Greensboro Truth & Reconciliation Commission. The Commission should have been pro-active and ask that this vote not occur. You cannot continue to allow the Project to speak for you in our community. The Project started their whole presentation to the community over two years ago with a very one sided, pro-survivor film that clearly showed they had a specific agenda. Some in the community and on the City Council already think that the survivors of Nov. 3rd and their Greensboro Truth & Community Reconciliation Project has undue influence on the Commission. Most people, however, do not even know that there is a difference between the Project and the Commission. It is time that the Commission starts acting like an independent, objective and legitimate group. I hope that the many mistakes of the Greensboro experience with Truth & Reconciliation will provide other communities with the knowledge that a far better model is needed.

10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelson Johnson and his Project must be very happy today to have the City Council vote split down racial lines. The Nov. 3rd organizers and survivors have always wanted their tiny CWP group to be seen as bringing racial justice to Greensboro. All they brought in 1979 was anger, bitterness and hate and they continue to pour that upon this city. The survivor's intentions in 1979 and today have little to do with racial or social justice and a great deal to do with ego and manipulation. The City Council should have seen this coming and their inability to respond in a reasonable way should have us all looking for a more insightful City Council and Mayor. As long as race is the central part of the discussion the CWP will continue to ignore their own perpetrator role in Nov. 3rd. The Council's vote is certainly a tremendous setback for this "progressive" (what a joke) community. The work of the Commission is still very important but how can they do their work in the midst of the Project's constant manipulation of the process and an insensitive and incompetent City Council.

3:25 PM  
Anonymous Joya Wesley (GTRC communications director) said...

The Council's action did nothing to touch the legitimacy of the Commission's work, which is the same today as it was before the Council began debating whether to endorse it. Any "anger, bitterness and hate" community members may feel is not part of this truth and reconciliation process.

4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By receiving a clear rejection of your efforts by the City Council you did lose significant legitimacy in the eyes of many in the community. It appears that you can easily ignore the vote but this decision by our elected representatives is not a positive turn of events, however, you want to spin it. You need, more than ever, to find new ways to create support in the community. I thought your T&R process was attempting to bring healing and reconciliation to our community not greater divisions.

1:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to an article in YES Magazine:
"Executive Director Jill E. Williams said the decision to postpone the hearing was made because of difficulty finding people to testify."

Of course we know that there is no problem getting the survivors of Nov. 3rd to rehash their 25 year old conspiracy position. However, if the Commission is not getting significant testimony from the many other perspectives I hope they will have the wisdom to address this difficulty directly with the community. If the first public hearings are primarily a presentation by Signe Waller and Nelson Johnson they will lack credibility. The other important perspectives about Nov. 3rd have never been acknowledged by the GTCRP. The GTCRP original video about Nov. 3rd was very one sided. If the other perspectives stay away from this discussion a good deal of that blame can be placed at the feet of the GTCRP and their pro-survivor position.

I hope the Greensboro Truth & Reconciliation Commission understands that their work is impossible without a strong representation of all the perspectives of Nov. 3rd and will publicly discuss their difficulties as this situation develops.

11:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was deeply affected by what happened on November 3, 1979. I appreciate everyone's sharing their perspective. I'm concerned that the commission will have limited testimony, not by intentional design. However, there are various reasons people may not share their thoughts/statements. They may be afraid from other individuals, intimidated by a system or have other emotional blocks. But I invite everyone to share their thoughts as long as it has a positive/constructive spirit. There are so many perspectives and each one is very rich. For example some of the ones that I'm aware of; MorningSide Homes residents, neighbors, friends, police, fbi, klan, demonstrators, nazis, adults, children, factory workers/managers/owners, friends/family/classmates/neighbors of others involved, media, juries, and judges. I'm sure there are others that I'm not aware of now. Whether it's here or in other ways, seeking truth will definitely benefit everyone.

I believe that no one is a hero or monster. Those are dangerous myths because they're false. However, everyone is capable of both good and bad things. People are good. But some systems/processes can be harmful. Everyone deserves a good quality of life to be safe, healthy, and happy. Many people don't have the quality of life that they deserve. Many people lack adequate housing, education, healtchcare and jobs. At worst when people are rigid, people die, for example, U.S./Iraq, Israel/Palestine. At best, we're missing out on being with each other. I've spent some of my life building barriers, not letting people in and some embracing people and gaining a large community. I'm so much richer with the community. We need to see people as human beings, good and see how and why we seperate/disconnect from our natural humanity, connected, intelligent, loving, creative and flexible. But as we live we disconnect with our true human nature as we get conditioned into various categories, for example, gender, age, economic class. We build these barriers ourselves, so we can tear them down. For example, men are conditioned to become numb to violence in our society. It's helpful to explore how these patterns develop in a non-judgemental way. Then we can understand and overcome these negative patterns. These are generalizitions. But you can see our natural qualities, more in younger children. For example, babies look at people with a lot of attention, without regard to their background.

I think and hope that the gtrc will attain many answers, not only about 11/3/79, but related situations to help prevent future tragedies, whether it's an individual or country. It's related to so many current human tragedies and ones from the past. I'm reminded that as individuals and a country, we are better for those who saw that the current situation wasn't appropriate. We've made progress, but have a way to go. If we hadn't moved forward on some thinking 50 or 100 years ago, with regards to women, people of color for example, we'd all be worse off. There was a time when women and people of color didn't have the right to vote. Now many women and people of color hold office and other positions. I contend that everyone benefits from diverse perspectives being shared, not as tokens but everyone's perspective and experience is valid. Even with the best intentions, people are limited because of our own experiences and perspectives. But it's helpful to be open to learning and gaining different experiences.

On the one hand to attain facts, specific individuals and situations need to be addressed to help gather the pieces to the puzzle. However, it's equally important to focus on flawed systems that allow people to do harmful things.

So, another strong appreciation and request for everyone who has relevant information to share. No information is too small. Basically, if it occurs to you that it may be worth addressing/sharing, please do so.

In reality, I don't think that the commission can achieve the ideal of getting 100% of information, all the puzzle pieces. However, I think and hope that they can help provide major steps toward healing and peace both for individuals and the city. Perhaps, for those who are challenged to share now, if it is too difficult, please write down, put in a p.o. box or something for later. While it would be ideal for the gtrc to achieve 100%, I understand people may be challenged, emotionally and/or otherwise. But it is very important both for you and everyone else that everyone's story/thoughts/feelings/experiences be shared. I will share more information when the time and place is right. But for those who face challenges at exploring this tragedy, you are not alone.

I want to thank everyone who supports this project. It will truely benifit everyone. When you help, you can be proud when history looks back. If people choose not to, I ask that they at least remain neutral and not negative.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Greensboro TRC, just wanted to say I'm grateful that you're here and YOU CAN DO IT!!! Judging from what I've read on this blogger, it hasn't been, and probably won't be, an easy process. But you have people rooting for you from afar, and hoping that you receive the proper thanks.

3:26 PM  
Anonymous Robert Reddick said...

the committee should consider moderating the wikipedia entry on this historic issue:


9:36 AM  
Blogger pungo said...

These first hand details of the events in Greensboro are indisputable truth. The CWP sought to disenfranchise established Labor Unions with their own version,under various names such as the Southern Workers Party and others. Highly educated Northerners lied about their background to obtain factory jobs, and then recruited uninformed people through a combination of fear for their jobs and psycological manipulation. To rally their cause a common enemy was needed, and what better one than the nemesis of the old South, the Klan. A confrontation was needed and planned, since the Klan would not come to them, they went to the Klan, disrupting a peaceful lawful march in China Grove N.C. My friend appeared in the resulting Time magazine article jubilantly celebrating the whipping the Klan took at the hands of his group. But this was not enough, the Death to the Klan(penned by Nelson Johnson)march had to take place in a predominatly poor black neighborhood."Mao Tse Dung" yardsales were held by The then Socialist Workers Party in Glenwood and other neighborhoods to raise money for the march. They would use the resulting publicity to recruit further poor ignorant members to their cause, with resulting increase in dues revenue. These so-called peaceful Marchers were heavily armed, and in fact fired the first shots toward the Klan Caravan. This was not a massacre, the only people killed were carefully chosen from among the crowd and were the ringleaders of the conspiracy, the exception being the poor black women duped into being a follower.The fact that the Klan succeeded and were not convicted has pissed off the surviving activists,especially Ms.Waller, to this day.These people make their living from organizing others, and from the till of like minded liberal philanthropist who support these kind of activities. I know because my Brother was a Communist then, his wife a member of the SCPlC, my girlfriends landlord the guy in the Time photo, my good friends' father the head Juror of the first trial. He summed it up best when he said"In my Country we hate Communist, they took everything we had, what is wrong with killing Communist?(sic)I am just a redneck factory worker but I know the truth, so does everyone I speak with. We will never fall for the revisionist slant that will come from this bogus committee. The City Council didn't fall for an endorsement because they know the truth as well. What I haven't figured out yet is why this Commission really exists at all, what the real angle is. You can preach your official position all you want, the people of this area don't buy it. There is money, or power somewhere in the equation for these damn Organizers.

9:18 PM  
Anonymous Jill Williams said...

Thanks for your thoughts. Based on the information and opinions you share here, I would really like to talk with you more.

You say that you are not clear what the "real angle" of the Commission is. I want to assure you that the only agenda the Commission, as a group, has is to collect as much information as we can (especially including personal perspectives from anyone with relevant information, like you), share this information with the community, and create a final report that will outline the Commission's findings on the "context, causes, sequence, and consequence" of the events of Nov. 3, 1979, as well as recommendations to community members and institutions for how to work towards restorative justice around these issues.

I wasn't clear in your message whether you were speaking for yourself when you said, "I am just a redneck factory worker, but I know the truth." Regardless, I hope everyone understands that we are interested in hearing from everyone and have, in fact, made special efforts to hear from as many people as possible who worked (formerly and currently) in textile mills in the area. As I mentioned before, this process is about giving everyone a chance to share their perspectives and to have those perspectives added to a collection of community voices about this event. These statements will all be archived in a public institution so will remain important pieces of this community's memory about November 3.

If you are willing to do so, please contact me at or (336)275-6462. Thanks for participating in this discussion here.

10:16 PM  
Anonymous Jill Williams said...

I'm sorry that I'm only now seeing your message. Thanks for the suggestion. I'm not sure how one would go about moderating a wikipedia entry, but it is an interesting suggestion. Although I know very little about wikipedia, my understanding is that its goal is to create a communal definition or description of partiucular words, events, or other topics. In that way, it is very similar to what the Commission is doing here in Greensboro and I appreciate that you see those parallels. If moderating the wiki entry, however, requires that we already have a clear understanding of what happened on 11/3/79, however, the Commission would not be in a position to moderate such a site. Still, it is an interesting idea. Thanks for your interest and suggestion. Hope you'll keep following this work.

10:28 PM  
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