Film Screening Prelude to Klan/Nazi Shooting, 1979

A flyer promoting a July 21, 1979 anti-Klan meeting in China Grove following the July 8 altercation. Image from the UNC Greensboro Libraries.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 their 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.

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