On anniversary of Greensboro Massacre, Youth march calls for community justice

By Dante Strobino , Raleigh FIST

Still pumped with energy from the election of the first Black president, several hundred oppressed youth marched through the streets here on Saturday, Nov. 8, in memory of the 1979 coldblooded murder of five activists by the Ku Klux Klan and to carry on the struggle for change that Barack Obama’s election campaign has sparked.

The march was organized by the Beloved Community Center to fight around four main issues: stop the violence, education, an end to police brutality and community justice.

“We are calling upon our spiritual communities to go beyond their walls and address the root issues that cause violence, self-hate, injustice and oppression,” stated event organizer Wesley Morris at an opening rally.

After gathering at the St. Phillips AME Zion Church on the south side of town, the youth marched through the Black community, down Elm Street in downtown, and then rallied at the courthouse.

The Greensboro Massacre took place 29 years ago, after activists had organized a series of marches and rallies against racist provocations and attacks.

On the morning of Nov. 3, 1979, in collusion with the Greensboro Police Department and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the Ku Klux Klan publicly massacred five communist activists and wounded many other anti-racists. Even though all the shootings were captured on video camera and were clearly visible on a video segment, no one was ever found guilty for the murders.

Survivor Nelson Johnson, along with others, formed the Beloved Community Center as a way for the community to heal and find truth and reconciliation. This year’s march was part of that legacy.

The march brought together students from A&T College, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Guilford College and many young workers under the slogan, “Peace, unity and justice.”

Many spoke about the need for better tutoring services for students in schools at all levels of education. Others spoke about work they are doing to empower parents and communities to improve the overall education process.

Among the marchers were members of the Latin Kings, who recently called for all gangs to stop fighting each other and realize who the real enemy is—the police and the state.

“When we stepped forward to call for peace, we knew it was the government that was keeping [the gangs] divided, especially police departments like the Greensboro Police Department. It is time for us all to stand together. Black and Brown unite!” stated King J, leader of the Latin Kings from Garner, N.C.

On stage with the Latin Kings were dozens of family members of African-American youth who have been killed by Greensboro police.

“We demand the dismantling of the gang squad. We don’t need these police attacking people, throwing people out of work, creating false charges. … It needs to be eliminated,” stated Johnson to the crowd gathered at the courthouse. He continued: “Together we can make Greensboro a beautiful, peaceful and nice city. However, we cannot move forward until justice comes.”

Marchers were also demanding adequate housing, living-wage jobs, accessible health care benefits, and quality recreation for all members of the community. They stressed the need for community facilities, especially recreation centers, to be open and accessible to the youth from all communities.

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