GREENSBORO — They lost their lives here, on a weekend 40 years ago as people gathered for a Community Workers Party “Death to the Klan” march and a conference to organize workers at local textile mills.
The youngest victim, Cesar Vicente Cauce, was a 25-year-old Cuban immigrant and magna cum laude graduate of Duke University.
Sandra Neely Smith, called “Sandy” by friends, had a nursing degree. The 28-year-old had been a natural leader as far back as Bennett College, where she served as student body president before graduating in 1973.
William Evan Sampson, 31, was a recent graduate of Harvard Divinity School.
The two others were physicians — Dr. Michael Ronald Nathan, 32, and Dr. James Michael Waller, 36. Nathan was the chief of pediatrics at Durham’s Lincoln Community Health Center. Waller had given up his medical practice to organize workers and later served as president of a local textile workers’ union.
As they prepared to march, they were confronted by a group of Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis arriving in a caravan. Marchers beat on the cars as they passed and both sides fired shots in the ensuing gunbattle.
Anniversary observances continue this weekend, with discussions, a dance performance and an interfaith worship service:
Educational and Movement-Building Panels and Workshops: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today, Nov. 2, Bennett College’s Pfeiffer Chapel, 498 Bennett St., and Black Hall. Special musical tribute by the Fruit of Labor singing ensemble.
Contra-Tiempo performance of “joyUS justUS”: 7 p.m. today, Nov. 2, N.C. A&T’s Harrison Auditorium, 1009 Bluford St. The Los Angeles-based multilingual, urban-based dance company employs salsa and Afro-Cuban rhythms, hip-hop and more. Company founder and artistic director Ana Maria Alvarez graduated from Grimsley High School in 1994, and danced with the E. Gwynn Dancers at N.C. A&T. Tickets are free, but required for admission. Order tickets at www.greensboro massacrelessonstoday.org/greensboro-events or by calling Beloved Community Center at 336-230-001.
Memorial Church Service: 10 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, at Faith Community Church, 147 Arlington St.
Interfaith Worship Service: 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, Shiloh Baptist Church, 1210 S. Eugene St. The focus of the service will be “The Role of Church Communities in Today’s Quest for Economic, Racial, Environmental and Social Transformation,” featuring the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, formerly of Greensboro and now clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA). A reception will follow.
Admission is free, but registration is encouraged. Visit www.greensboro massacrelessonstoday.org.