GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina city council will consider a resolution and apology on Tuesday for the shooting deaths of five demonstrators at a rally against the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party nearly 41 years ago.
The resolution is scheduled to be on the agenda for the Greensboro City Council. First reported by the News & Record of Greensboro, the resolution expresses the city’s apology to the victims, families and Morningside Homes community for the violence and police inaction.
In the resolution, the city apologizes for “the failure of any government action to effectively overcome the hate that precipitated the violence, to embrace the sorrow that resulted from the violence and to reconcile all the vestiges of those heinous events in the years subsequent to 1979.”
If the resolution is approved, the city will acknowledge that the police department neglected to act on knowledge it had that the Nazis and Klan were planning violence in a low-income housing community during a “Death to the Klan” rally on Nov. 3, 1979, organized by members of the Communist Workers Party.
Five demonstrators were shot and killed at the rally. Juries acquitted several people of killing the protesters and wounding others. A subsequent civil case found six members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party and two Greensboro police officers liable for wrongful death in connection with what is now known as the Greensboro Massacre.
The resolution has been in the works since last December. It grew out of work by the Greensboro Pulpit Forum, a coalition of faith and civil rights leaders, who contacted every City Council member to request the apology in the weeks following the 40th anniversary of the massacre, Mayor Nancy Vaughan said Friday.
Vaughan said all nine City Council members read drafts of the apology, made comments and circulated further drafts until they agreed on the document to be considered.
In addition to the apology, the council will create an annual scholarship program called the “Morningside Homes Memorial Scholarships” honoring five graduates each year from Dudley High School in memory of the five victims.
In August 2017, the council issued an informal apology when Councilwoman Sharon Hightower made a surprise motion. No formal resolution was drafted, however. She called the vote at the time “an impromptu apology because I felt like we needed to make the effort.”
“This takes it a step further. It really is intentional and focused on the areas of hurt that really will speak to the concerns that the participants had from 1979,” Hightower said. “It will be good for the city.”