Workers Vanguard No. 947
20 November 2009
30 Years Later
We Will Not Forget Greensboro Martyrs
On 3 November 1979, in broad daylight, nine carloads of Klansmen and Nazis drove up to a black housing project in Greensboro, North Carolina, where an anti-Klan rally was gathering. With cool deliberation, the killers took out their weapons, aimed, fired and drove off. Five supporters of the Communist Workers Party—union officials, union organizers and civil rights activists—lay dying in pools of blood. Ten others were wounded or maimed for life.
The Greensboro Massacre was the bloodiest fascist attack in the U.S. in decades. It was a conspiracy of fascists and their capitalist state patrons. From the outset, the fascists were aided and abetted by the government, from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent who helped train the killers and plot the assassinations, to the “former” FBI informer who rode shotgun in the motorcade of death and the Greensboro cop who brought up the rear. When the two-minute fusillade ended, the cops moved in to arrest the survivors for “rioting.” Two successive all-white juries acquitted the killers of all charges, affirming once again the meaning of “justice” in this racist capitalist country.
Carried out during the Democratic Carter administration, the Greensboro Massacre was the opening shot of what would become the Reagan years’ war on labor and blacks. When the Klan announced it would “celebrate” this massacre on 10 November 1979 in Detroit, the Spartacist League initiated a labor/black mobilization that drew over 500, many of them black auto workers, who made sure that the Klan did not ride in the Motor City. In city after city over the following years, when KKK and fascists threatened to mobilize, we brought out core battalions of black and labor militants who understood that the fascists and the Klan can’t be ignored—they must be stopped.
Annual commemorations of the Greensboro Massacre repeatedly focused on the call for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was founded in 2005 and modeled on the South African commission. The South African commission served to whitewash the crimes of apartheid-era butchers and to assure a peaceful transition to neo-apartheid rule under the African National Congress-led government, which continues the superexploitation and oppression of the black and other non-white masses. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of the Greensboro Massacre, a four-day “Truth, Justice and Healing Conference” was held in Greensboro, with the keynote speaker being James Joseph, U.S. ambassador to South Africa under the Clinton administration and former board member of the National Endowment for Democracy, a CIA front.
The Greensboro Massacre was racist murder. The truth is that no justice can come from the same capitalist state whose forces helped to orchestrate the killings in the first place. “Reconciliation” with the forces of racist reaction and with the capitalist rulers, who keep the fascist bands in reserve to unleash against the working class in times of social crisis, can only serve to politically disarm and demobilize workers and the oppressed in the face of fascist terror.
We honor the Greensboro martyrs—Cesar Cauce, Michael Nathan, Bill Sampson, Sandi Smith and James Waller—as well as the many others who were wounded that November day. They take their place on a proud roster of fighters for the working people and oppressed, whose memory must be seared into the consciousness of the working class. We honor them by fighting to build a revolutionary workers party that will fight to put the working class in power through a socialist revolution that will make sure there will be no more Greensboros.