Main Entry: coun·cil
Etymology: Middle English counceil, from Old French concile, from Latin concilium, from com- + calare to call -- more at LOW
1 : an assembly or meeting for consultation, advice, or discussion
Greensboro City Council Meeting
March 15, 2005
Speakers from the Floor
Representatives from the Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project
Joseph Frierson, Staff Coordinator: (from GTCRP Declaration of Intent)
"Our overall purpose is to lead Greensboro into becoming a more just, understanding and compassionate community. We believe this project can have positive implications for cities and communities throughout the United States."
Rev. Gregory Headen, Co-Chair:
“Already many of us have had to struggle to be in the same room to talk about this tragedy. But in so doing, we have come to a deeper understanding of each other, across racial and cultural lines, and the barriers that normally separate us. It’s been healthy for us.”
“I’m a part of this process because I believe in it. I feel it in my bones. I have grown from it. And I would invite my City Council to be on board with us and support it.”
Former Greensboro Mayor Carolyn Allen:
“The memories and shadows of the 1979 Klan-Nazi murders remain to haunt our community. The work of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission will remove half-truths, bring forth new perspectives and information, and rebuild the trust necessary for Greensboro to move forward most effectively.”
“But suppose, say others, these memories of a wretched time in our history drive away business looking for a new location? It may be that some companies would think well of a community that deals forthrightly with bad situations from its history.”
Liz Nimitz, Guilford College student:
“Through my experiences with the Project, I have come to call Greensboro home. I am here to stay, and I am thrilled to continue to work with the Project to improve our city. I credit the Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project, and Commission, with allowing me to see the potential that Greensboro holds.”
“Right now, Greensboro has the opportunity to set the example for the rest of the world. How we all can live in one place and build community. That’s what we all preach every day about community. That’s what we’re all about is building community.”
Rev. Z. Holler, Co-Chair:
“We’re urgently in need of the community reconciliation and mutual trust that can liberate the gifts and good will of all of our citizens and bring them to bear on the issues that are before us and that will come before us in the future.”
“We hope you will put a consideration of it front and center on your agenda in the near future, and discuss it candidly, for the educational benefits such discussion by the Council can have for the whole city.”
"We’re for you. And we’re for Greensboro. We’re not mad at anybody. We are passionately concerned for the future health of our city and every single one of its citizens.”
Rev. Mazie Ferguson:
"If this Council continues to say that it is not going to address this issue based on the fact that it’s going to create a bad image for Greensboro, then you are speaking in contradictions and paradoxes. The image is already bad with regard to this. The only opportunity this Council has is to support it. That is the only opportunity you have to clean up the image."
"I came here to say to you tonight that there is a mess. It stinks. It stinks from California to New York, from Maine to Florida. Clean it up.”
"You have power in your hands. That power needs to be used to make a change."
“I see that we can all work together, to work through the MOSAIC program which I think is leadership from above, and work through the Truth and Community Reconciliation group which is basically grassroots. I consider myself a part of that group, and I think we need each other to make Greensboro what it can be.”
John deSantos, NC A&T University student:
“Greensboro has done something for me that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to pay back to Greensboro. And so to understand that something like what occurred on Nov. 3, 1979 happened in the back door of my university... That hurts.”
"'Nothing is more perilous than truth in a society that lies.' So we support the truth."
“This is my city. I love Greensboro. I’ve been here most all my life, and I wouldn’t want to go anywhere else. I want to hear good things about my city. And there is an undercurrent in this city that just won’t go away."
"What I struggle with is that I was here on November 3, 1979. And there was an unrest, a stillness, a quietness, there was just something about it that never… it was almost like a box, that you box something in, it was in there, it was secret, it was never to be revealed."
"I also want you to know that there was an unrest in me about this. Until that time, when I saw how truth can be crushed down, and you walk on it, you trod over it, and you never know it and you hurt, you hurt the people. It opened my eyes and my understanding. I do care about getting to the truth. And I hope you care about it too."
Rev. Nelson Johnson:
"This morning at the Beloved Community Center house, we fed about 80 people. We provided an opportunity for them to shower and prepare for work. We also met this morning with about 20 people to discuss public education – parents, educators, clergy, community leaders. We assist unemployed people and underemployed people and are happy to open a workers’ center in March."
"In the late ‘60s and ‘70s, we organized the cafeteria workers at North Carolina A&T, UNCG, the public school system of Greensboro, blind workers and cafeteria workers, and I could go on for a while."
"The point of all of this is that over the span of years, I’ve been involved with tens of thousands of people. My heart is with poor people, and it always has been. I point this out simply to put the work of racial and economic justice that was occurring, with whatever flaws it may have had in 1979, within the context of a prior and a post history."
"One of the great misfortunes that accompanied the tragic killings and the woundings of 25 years ago was the attempt to bracket off the work, to isolate the people, and to devalue both the work and the people. I believe that we are better people than that."
"When people are killed, in public, while exercising their legal and Constitutional rights, and the killings are dismissed in a fog of confusion, falsehood, and fear, and wiped aside by focusing on the motives and imperfections of those who were killed -- and at last, when a court of law finds, among others, Greensboro police officers guilty of liability for death, and no public official takes any responsibility for it -- I want to suggest to you that a cancer is growing in the body politic. And it will continue to grow until it is constructively engaged."
"Allow me to say that I, and those associated with me, made mistakes in carrying out our work 25 years ago. I’m very sorry that we used the slogan “Death to the Klan.” There are other things that I want to share, and when I come before the Commission, I will share them in full in a proper setting."
"Mr. Mayor and members of the Council, we often speak of the desire for racial unity and for unity and respect among all people. Such unity requires that we first acknowledge the deep and often unspoken divides among us. Yes, the unity we seek will be difficult, it will be challenging, but I have come to believe that the only unity that does not bear within itself the seeds of its own destruction, is that unity that grows out of truth and is committed to justice and takes compassionate care of each other. The road may be hard and long, but if we work together, we can get there."
"This Council has an awesome responsibility, and I would just urge you not to lead us down the road that we went down 25 years ago. There is an opportunity here."
"And let me just say in conclusion, as one who is fully aware that I am often the object of fear and speculation about motives, I want to assure each of you, and every citizen in this city, that I will do my very best to overcome any spirit of revenge or retribution, and I invite you -- I urge you to join in this initiative so that we can make this city a better city, this nation a better nation, and this world a better world."