The Greensboro Massacre: Ambush or Shootout?


Competing narratives of what happened on Nov. 3, 1979

African American Heritage  •  Fellowships  •  History

Virginia Humanities

145 Ednam Drive Charlottesville, VA 22903

On the morning of November 3, 1979, communist labor and anti-racist activists were preparing for a city-sanctioned, noontime rally in Greensboro, NC. The subject of their march was Ku Klux Klan interference with multi-racial union building efforts in the powerful, local textile mills. 

As four news crews rolled their cameras, Klansmen (and women) and American Nazis drove to the staging ground for the march. A fight broke out and, within seconds, Klan and Nazi shooters left five activists dead on the street and several others critically wounded.

No one disputes these facts. Despite this, the struggle to define what happened, why it had happened, and who was responsible began within minutes of the shooting.

This talk by Virginia Humanities Fellow Aran Shetterly will examine the formation of the competing and irreconcilable narratives that emerged from the showdown. Situating them into an historical context, this presentation will describe versions of events as constructed by the press; the Greensboro Police Department and Greensboro’s city government; the FBI and the BATF; the Klan and Nazis; the state and federal courts; the 2006 Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Greensboro; and by the communist activists themselves.

Free and open to the public. A casual lunch provided.