Archive for the 'This Day in Civil Rights History' Category

This Day in Civil Rights History – Art Taylor of Metro Magazine Says It All

Monday, November 16th, 2009 by Suzanne La Rosa

We thought Diane McWhorter had it right in her comments about This Day in Civil Rights History by Horace Randall Williams and Ben Beard. She called the volume “a wonderful compendium” and also “a compellingly readable sampling of historic events both well known and obscure, inspiring and appalling.” But in his Arts & Literature blog review for our new book, Art Taylor identifies one of the book’s key features: 

“While most of the events commemorated here fall during the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s—what we traditionally think of as the Civil Rights Era—the book importantly stretches outside of that narrowest of definitions. On September 20, for example, you’ll learn that Maryland passed the nation’s first miscegenation laws on that date in 1664—and that Alabama was the last state to hang on to such laws, right up into the 21st century. And the span of that entry is important, because the book stresses that civil rights news and issues persist up to to very recent history, whether the Confederate flag controversy in 1998 (October 14) or the reopening of the Emmett Till murder case in 2004 (May 10).”

In his introduction to the book, Horace Randall Williams, who happens also to be a founding partner in NewSouth Books and our company’s editor-in-chief, says, “This book takes the long view that the civil rights movement began with slavery and continues to the present day. The 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery March is here, of course, but so is the 1917 parade organized by the NAACP of 10,000 silently tramping down New York City’s Fifth Avenue to protest the St. Louis race riot. Rosa Parks is here, of course, but so is freedman David Ruggles, who filed a lawsuit in 1841 after being dragged out of a whites-only railroad car. The famous Tuskegee Airman of World War II fame are here, but so is Robert Smalls, a slave who commandeered a Confederate ship in 1862 and sailed it out of Charleston Harbor and turned it over to the Union navy. The 1664 passage of the nation’s first miscegenation law is here, but so is the 2003 announcement by a biracial South Carolina woman that she was the daughter of Strom Thurmond.”

Today’s entry commemorates the life and death in the year 2000 of Georgia activist Hosea Williams.

Thanks, Art, for the fulsome review.

This Day In Civil Rights History is available from NewSouth Books,, or your favorite local or online book retailer.

This Day in Civil Rights History – November 3, 1979

Friday, November 3rd, 2006 by Brian Seidman

The following comes from This Day in Civil Rights History, written by Ben Beard and NewSouth editor Randall Williams:

On this day in civil rights history, Ku Klux Klansmen and Nazis killed five people in North Carolina, in what would become known as ���the Greensboro Massacre.���

Weeks earlier, the Workers��� Viewpoint Organization had planned an anti-Klan rally to be held in Morningside Homes, a black housing project in Greensboro. In the late 1970s, the WVO, a biracial organization, helped textile unions in North Carolina negotiate better working conditions. The WVO grew out of the civil rights and antiwar movements of the late 1960s as activists sought to continue their work in the post-civil rights era.

Under WVO auspices, poor black and white textile workers built a coalition to improve their situation. On occasion, the KKK threatened the union leaders and, as an act of defiance, the WVO planned a rally against the Klan. The activists were also planning to announce the new name of their organization: the Communist Workers��� Party.

The so-called ���Death to the Klan��� rally was to be a combination social protest, political gathering, and economic declaration. Learning of the event, members of the KKK and the American Nazi Party, both then active in middle North Carolina, planned a competing anticommunism event.

The anti-Klan rally began around 11 a.m. Soon afterwards, carloads of Klansmen and Nazis disrupted the rally. Television news cameras were present, and their film of the incident showed the armed Klansmen and Nazis getting out of their cars and, with guns drawn, approaching the anti-Klan parade, targeting members of the Communist Workers Party and firing point-blank at them. The entire incident lasted only a few minutes. At the end, five leaders of the rally lay dead���Caesar Cauce, Mike Nathan, Sandi Smith, Bill Sampson, and James Waller���with ten injured.
Survivors of the attack alleged a conspiracy, and with good reason. The local police, who were warned of the potential for trouble, were suspiciously absent at the time of the attack. Informants in the Klan had relayed information about the potential attack, but no one had done anything about it. In the subsequent state and then federal trials, however, the murderers were found not guilty on all charges. In a civil trial, the City of Greensboro paid some of the survivors a settlement without admitting any wrongdoing.

The Greensboro Massacre caused a national outrage and led to the formation of the National Anti-Klan Network (later the Center for Democratic Renewal). Some 100 civil rights, church, labor, and community organizations joined in the network. In the summer of 2004, Greensboro launched the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission to investigate the incident.

This Day in Civil Rights History is available from your favorite local or online book retailer, directly from NewSouth Books, or from