Dr. Paul Bermanzohn, the son of Holocaust survivors, was among 15 members of the Communist Workers Party who were wounded or killed on this date in 1979 in an attack by the Ku Klux Klan in Greensboro, North Carolina. Dr. Michael Nathan, the chief of pediatrics at the Lincoln Community Health Center in Durham, a clinic that served low-income people, was among five killed in that assault, and a civil suit in 1985 found several of the Klansmen, as well as some Greensboro police officers, liable for his wrongful death. The CWP members had been organizing mostly black industrial workers in the area and were leading a “Death to the Klan” march in a Black housing development when an armed caravan of Klansmen descended upon them and opened fire. Two criminal trials resulted in acquittals of 14 defendants by all-white juries. In 2005, a Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined that both the police and the FBI had been alerted by informants to the likelihood of violence but had taken no actions to prevent it.
“Over the years I discovered that my roots as the child of a Holocaust survivors gave me special credibility among Black people who had suffered from the severe oppression of the racist system in the US. As we developed our work in the communities around NC, this bond was strengthened repeatedly as I became an organizer in the Black community.” —Paul Bermanzohn