On July 8, 1979, members of the communist Greensboro Workers Viewpoint Organization (WVO) protested a screening of the white supremacist film Birth of a Nation held by the Ku Klux Klan at the town hall of small Rowan County town of China Grove.
The Greensboro communist group opposed the Klan because it divided working people by race, thereby, in their view, distracting them from the struggle for workers’ rights. When the WVO learned of the screening, they immediately began to organize a protest march.
The march culminated in a standoff between armed members of the KKK who stood in front of the town hall, and WVO members and others who marched past chanting anti-Klan slogans while waving bats and sticks. WVO members burned a Confederate flag in front of the building, while local police defused the situation by forcing Klan members to return inside.
The march is significant because it kicked off hostilities between the WVO, which later became the Communist Workers Party, and the Klan. The conflict would come to a head in the “Death to the Klan” march and shooting in Greensboro in November of that year.
Other related resources:
· Civil Rights Greensboro from the UNC Greensboro Libraries
· Celebrate Black History! from the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
· A Change is Gonna Come, an online exhibit from the N.C. Museum of History
· A History of African Americans in North Carolina from N.C. Historical Publications
· Images related to civil rights from the State Archives
· Resources related to black history from the State Library