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Events mark anniversary of deadly shootout, later dubbed Greensboro Massacre

Events mark anniversary of deadly shootout, later dubbed Greensboro Massacre


GREENSBORO — Song and the strum of a guitar could be heard from the Morningside public housing community where Communist Worker Party demonstrators had gathered for an anti-Klan march that November day in 1979.

In just moments, the sounds of laughter would be replaced by gunshots and later, the sounds of dying — and only later, sirens signaling a unified police response, say people who witnessed one of the deadliest days in the city’s history.

Sandi Smith, Jim Waller, Bill Sampson, Cesar Cauce and Michael Nathan were killed during the shootings.

As the 40th anniversary of the Nov. 3, 1979, Greensboro Massacre approaches, a number of community groups will observe the tragedy with a variety of events.

They include:

“History & Reconciliation: A Community Symposium”: Community members and academics will share perspectives on investigating difficult history and identifying paths forward as part of this symposium at 10 a.m., Saturday at the Greensboro History Museum, 130 Summit Ave.

Also, Spoma Jovanovich, author of “Democracy, Dialogue and Community Action: Truth and Reconciliation in Greensboro,” will join Beloved Community Center of Greensboro co-director Joyce Johnson and retired attorney Lewis Pitts to reflect on the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Organized in 2004 as a response to the 1979 Greensboro Massacre, it was the first such commission in the United States.

The symposium will conclude with a look at future approaches to history and reconciliation as part of building a stronger democracy. Omar Ali, dean of Lloyd International Honors College at UNCG, will moderate a panel on this topic. Participants include Valerie Ann Johnson, Mott Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies and director of Africana Women’s Studies at Bennett College; William F. Harris II, head of the Initiative for the New Constitution at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum; and Arwin Smallwood, chair of the Department of History and Political Science at N.C. A&T.

This program is co-sponsored with the Beloved Community Center, the UNCG Department of Communication Studies and the NCA Center for Communication, Community Collaboration and Change. It is free and open to the public.

Community reading of “Greensboro: A Requiem”: This reading of Emily Mann’s play about the killings will be at 6 p.m. Nov. 1 at A&T’s auditorium in the Academic Classroom Building at 126 N. Obermeyer St. Mann and her staff from Princeton University will produce the reading of the play, using community members and students to read the parts of 30 characters. Followed by intergenerational panel discussion on the play’s relevance today. Mann is on the panel, moderated by Ash-Lee Henderson, co-director of the Highlander Research and Education Center in Tennessee.

Educational and Movement-Building Panels and Workshops: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Nov. 2, Bennett College’s Pfeiffer Chapel, 498 Bennett St., and Black Hall. Special musical tribute by the Fruit of Labor singing ensemble.

Contra-Tiempo performance of “joyUS justUS”: 7 p.m. Nov. 2, A&T’s Harrison Auditorium, 1009 Bluford St. The Los Angeles-based multilingual, urban-based dance company employs Salsa and Afro-Cuban rhythms, Hip-Hop and more. Company founder and artistic director Ana Maria Alvarez graduated from Grimsley High School in 1994, and danced with the E. Gwynn Dancers at A&T. Tickets are free, but required for admission. Order tickets at or by calling Beloved Community Center at 336-230-001.

Memorial Church Service: 10 a.m. Nov. 3, at Faith Community Church, 147 Arlington St.

Interfaith Worship Service: 3:30 p.m. Nov. 3, Shiloh Baptist Church, 1210 S. Eugene St. Focus: The Role of Church Communities in Today’s Quest for Economic, Racial, Environmental and Social Transformation, featuring the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, formerly of Greensboro and now clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Reception follows.

Admission is free, but registration is encouraged. Visit

Contact Nancy McLaughlin at

336-373-7049 and follow

@nmclaughlinNR on Twitter.

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