Facing the past through the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Officially, Greensboro, North Carolina, has a strong history of racial tolerance and progressive politics -- a past touted in its historical museum and by numerous historical markers. But, JoAnn Wypijewski writes in Mother Jones, there is a much different story that wasn't getting told in Greensboro: the story of November 3, 1979. That's when a caravan of Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party members opened fire on a protest led by the Workers Viewpoint Organization, a group that Wypijewski says 'advocated antiracism, unionism, and communist revolution.' Five protesters were killed and ten were wounded.
In an attempt to fill the silence and correct the historical
record, survivors of the Greensboro Massacre and others started the
Greensboro Truth and
Reconciliation Commission, the first such hearings in the
United States. Aimed at presenting what Wypijewski's calls 'the
full skein of Greensboro's experience,' the project revisited the
massacre with testimony this past summer and fall from some of the
people present that day in 1979. Participants in the project claim
it is detrimental to systematically forget events that are
difficult to accept. They want to replace the city's watered-down,
feel-good history with a more complex narrative of how and why
these things happened. In order to do this, one cannot understand
the massacre as 'a thing apart from Greensboro's race history,'
Wypijewski argues. Rather, we must 'unlock the box of silence.' The
commission's report is due out this March.
-- Nick Rose
Go there >> Whitewash
Go there too >>Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project
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