Mixed emotions as council approves ‘Greensboro massacre’ marker

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- The Greensboro City Council has given its blessing for a historical marker to be placed in honor of what’s commonly referred to as the Greensboro Massacre.

The council voted 7-2 Tuesday night to accept the marker set to be placed at the corner of McConnell and Willow roads. The marker originally was approved by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources but also needed approval by the Greensboro City Council to move forward.

The event happened Nov. 3, 1979. A group holding an anti-Klu Klux Klan march was attacked by members of the KKK and neo-Nazis. Five people were killed and 10 were injured.

The plaque will read: Greensboro Massacre - Ku Klux Klansmen and American Nazi Party members, on Nov. 3, 1979, shot and killed five Communist Workers Party members one-tenth mile north."

Some council members had said at previous meetings they did not support calling the event a massacre and would prefer to change the wording to shootout.

The city council heard from more than a dozen people in support of putting massacre on the placard, including historians and people there the day of the killings.

“I implore you to accept the historical marker as originally worded with the title ‘massacre.’ I hope that each of you are thinking at this moment let there be truth and healing and let it begin with me,” said Signe Waller Foxwort.

Waller Foxwort lost a loved one that day and has written a book about the event.

The city council approved a measure to move forward with the marker with the word massacre included. Councilmen Zach Matheny and Tony Wilkins both voted no.

Matheny said he does not accept the history that supporters believe. Matheny suggested swapping out massacre for tragedy. Wilkins said he would prefer the word massacre removed from the marker altogether.