Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Greensboro Backs Down, Grants Permit

First Published: The Call, Vol. 9, No. 5, February 4, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Greensboro, N.C.– City officials had to eat Jim Crow here last week in what amounted to a resounding victory for the Feb. 2 Mobilization, currently organizing here against the Ku Klux Klan.

“The score is 100 to zero in favor of the Mobilization Committee,” said Committee, Co-Chairman Rev. Lucius Walker, upon learning of the victory.

On Jan. 25, City Manager Tom Osborne and Jim Melvin were forced to postpone the Feb. 2 rhythm and blues concert which the city had originally scheduled for the Coliseum. Their promotion of the concert was intended to sabotage a march that day against the Klan and prevent the Coliseum from being used for an anti-Klan rally. (The Call, Jan. 28)

The city was forced to back down after being caught lying to the public and being threatened with a $600,000 damage suit. Officials had originally denied a permit for the Coliseum to march organizers on the grounds that it was already booked. But subsequent investigation revealed that the performers who were said to be appearing knew nothing about it.

Eventually, the city did manage to sign R & B star Roy Ayers and other musicians for Feb. 2. On learning of the dispute, however, Ayers reportedly told his manager to try to get him out of the contract.

When the city’s under-handed maneuvers were revealed by the anti-Klan activists, officials became increasing isolated and lashed out at local media for what they called distorting the facts. Newspapers here have unanimously rejected this interpretation.

Walter Rugaber, Executive Editor of the Greensboro Daily News and Record, stated, “It’s significant that almost nothing we know about this controversy has been volunteered by these officials.”

In the week before the city backed down, public opinion began to snowball. Rev. Cardes Brown, chairman of Greensboro Pulpit Forum, an organization of Black ministers, demanded that the city explain why they had scheduled the Ayers concert. Ben Matkins, a local politician, charged the city with displaying a “Watergate mentality.”

“Even people like me, who are on the side of city officials, now believe that they are trying to stop the march,” stated Matkins.

Just two days before agreement was reached, the city Human Rights Commission called an emergency session, and unanimously issued a statement expressing concern over the constitutional rights of the marchers. It was in this climate that the city announced postponement of the concert.

Meanwhile, march organizers continued to build for the demonstration, determined that the officials would not succeed in their efforts to stop the struggle. Continuing this initiative, the Mobilization Committee announced at a press conference Jan. 28 that they are filing suit against the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation to enjoin them from harassing students who are organizing for the march at campuses across the state.

Rev. Walker also announced that the Communist Workers Party (CWP), whose members were murdered by Klansmen at an anti-Klan march in Greensboro Nov. 3, had been removed from the coalition. The decision was made, according to Walker, because the CWP “refused to make a clear statement supporting the Mobilization policy against the carrying of any weapon by the demonstrators.”

Walker specifically pointed out that they were not being removed for being a communist organization nor because they do not adhere to the non-violent philosophy as a way of life. He stressed that in this case the “no arms” policy was a tactic agreed to by all members of the coalition.

In conclusion, Walker remarked, “We want to make it very clear that our separation from the CWP in this effort in no way implies that we accept the interpretation of the Nov. 3 massacre which blamed the victims for the crime. Responsibility for that tragedy rests clearly on the KKK and agents of the city, state and federal governments.”

On Feb. 2, participants will assemble in the morning to hear speakers, including the Rev. W. T. Brown, of Greensboro; Ike Long, Vice-President, of the Southern Conference Educational Fund; and Congressman Ron Dellums (D-Cal.).

Demonstrators will then march past Woolworths, site of the historic lunch counter sit-in by Greensboro Blacks 20 years ago, and on to the Coliseum. There, keynote speaker Lucius Walker will address the crowd as representative of the Inter-religious Foundation for Community Organization. Among the many other speakers will be Skip Robinson of the United League of Northern Mississippi; Odis Hyde, a veteran communist organizer; and Rev. Iberus Hacker, of the Urban Appalachian Council.