Commentary, Park Forest

‘Death to the Klan,’ 39 Shots, 1979, North Carolina: Listen

Greensboro, NC, Massacre
Sign remembering the Greensboro, NC, Massacre, November 3, 1979. (Source: This Is Criminal

By Gary Kopycinski

This is where it goes, that raw hatred that Donald Trump is spewing.

This is where it goes.

This is how it went.

Saturday, November 3, 1979.

From the podcast Criminal, episode 43, broadcast May 20, 2016:

In 1979, a group of labor organizers protested outside a Ku Klux Klan screening of the 1915 white supremacist film, The Birth of a Nation. Nelson Johnson and Signe Waller-Foxworth remember shouting at armed Klansmen and burning a confederate flag, until eventually police forced the KKK inside and the standoff ended without violence. The labor organizers felt they’d won a small victory, and planned a much bigger anti-Klan demonstration in Greensboro, North Carolina. They advertised with the slogan: “Death to the Klan” and set the date for November 3rd, 1979.

As protestors assembled, a caravan of nine cars appeared, and a man in a pick-up truck yelled: “You asked for the Klan! Now you’ve got them!” Thirty-nine shots were fired in eighty-eight seconds, and five protestors were killed. The city of Greensboro is still grappling with the complicated legacy of that day.

This was 1979, November 3rd. Just one day later, these events would be upstaged by the Iran hostage crisis. Actually, reports from Iran began the evening of November 3rd in the United States, shortly after they had happened on November 4th in Iran.

This, however, is a story that deserves to be told.

This is a story we must remember.

The rhetoric coming from Donald Trump cannot go unanswered.

Listen to this episode from Criminal. It is worth your time.

And, remember, if you’re tempted to embrace the vitriolic campaign of the presumptive Republican nominee for President of the United States, remember: words, ideologies, can take us to ugly, ugly places.

Take the time. Make the time.


Gary Kopycinski is editor and publisher of eNews Park Forest. Follow him on Twitter at @GaryKopycinski and on Facebook at, or email him at [email protected]. He served as a village trustee in Park Forest from 2003-2006, and then again from 2007-2015. eNews Park Forest, Inc. is an independent media company and is not affiliated with the Village of Park Forest in any way.