By Emily Lewis
(Photo courtesy of the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program)
In 1979, the Communist Workers’ Party held a march in Greensboro to protest the Ku Klux Klan. Shortly after the march began, 40 Klan members showed up in retaliation and after agitation from both sides, shots were fired by both sides. Five died that day. In the weeks following the attack, people all over the country were left asking why it had become so deadly.
Today, after the events of the Charlottesville riots, many people fear that the country is going back to the time when riots and attacks like those that occurred at the Communist Workers’ Party march are the norm.
President Trump has made his feelings somewhat clear about the issue. On the issue, Trump has been quoted as saying that there was “blame on many sides.” This was published by multiple news outlets on the right and the left. In the rally held in Phoenix, Arizona, he tried to correct these words by claiming that he said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence.” The original sentence included “many sides.” Some believe that his words are the reason the KKK feel so comfortable sharing their message on a more national level. A lot of people, those not just on the left, are starting to doubt the new President as well. Those on the right have stated that his comments do not represent American values.
What does all of this mean for Greensboro? The city itself, a week or so after the protests in Charlottesville, offered a letter of apology to its citizens on Aug. 21, 2017 for the 1979 massacre. Despite that positve attempt to quell fears of racial violence, there have already been rumors of an anti-KKK march taking place at the National Folk Festival. The festival is a big event that takes place downtown, bringing in thousands of people each year and producing quite a bit of revenue for the city. No one knows for sure if the march will take place, but it is that city officials are not happy even with the idea of it. Some speculate this is why they sent out the apology, to try to appease the people of the city. With the apology being sent out by the city, some people are questioning whether or not they still should march.
Kathryn Stevens, a sophomore here at Greensboro, says, “The fact that they apologized does not change the fact that it is still happening today. And I think if people feel called or led to peacefully protest what is happening in Charlottesville, then they should. Even if it’s not happening in Greensboro, I would support [the march].”
Many residents of Greensboro feel as if though the city is going back in time. This time instead of grandparents and even parents dealing with racial issues, it is a new generation trying to change it. Greensboro needs to reflect on its history during the Civil Rights Movement, learn from its mistakes and try to change the current atmosphere. The protests are back, the violence is back and the lines are again being drawn between people of the nation and the city. The only question left to ask is how Greensboro will answer.