GREENSBORO - A historical marker commemorating the 'Greensboro Massacre' of November 3, 1979 was unveiled Sunday.
The marker remembers the five people killed when members of the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party opened fire on participants in a Communist Workers Party Rally.
"When the cloth came off, it really just means a lot. The people around us really fought before, during and after to have justice. And it's not necessarily justice, but it's a really positive step,” said Leah Nathan, whose father was one of those killed.
In the months leading up to the unveiling, there had been some debate over whether the 1979 event would be more properly characterized as a ‘shootout’ instead of a ‘massacre.’ Those who argued against that said the former did not fully capture the event’s gravity.
“We want justice today, but we cannot have justice without truth,” said Minister Terence Muhammad, who offered remarks during the unveiling ceremony and serves as a youth organizer at Beloved Community Center.
Muhammad also tied the massacre to recent events, as demonstrators in several cities across the country have called for more police accountability and protested against socioeconomic and racial disparities.
"We have to recognize that what happened in 1979 is not disconnected to what is going on today and what happened in Baltimore, what happened in South Carolina, what happened in Ferguson and what may happen in Greensboro,” he said.
Still, many were hopeful that reflecting on the tragic event would bring about something positive.
“We need to continue to work towards healing and I think this is one of the good points towards doing that,” said Yvonne Johnson, Greensboro’s Mayor Pro Tem.
The marker's permanent location will be in Greensboro's Morningside neighborhood, which sits near where the shootings took place. Officials are still determining where the exact location will be.
It is the 64th historical marker to be installed in Guilford County, and one of more than 1500 markers across North Carolina.