Facing the past through the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission

| December 15, 2005

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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