A key organizer of last Saturday’s “progressive” One Nation Rally in Washington DC was linked to one of the most violent incidents in US political history – the 1979 “Greensboro Massacre”.
The rally drew up to 140,000 Democrats, labor unionists, activists, communists and socialists to the capital in a major show of support for President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.
The rally was overtly touted as a counter to Glenn Beck’s earlier and much larger rally of 8/28.
Thirty years earlier, Roz Pelles and her comrade and husband Don Pelles were leaders of a radical and sometimes violent Maoist sect known as the Workers Voice Organization or Communist Workers Party.
The C.W.P. followed Mao Tse Tung, Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot and for a time, the Islamic revolutionaries of Iran. The party also emphasised unionisation and “self determination” for black Americans.
This led the C.W.P. into direct confrontation with the North Carolina Ku Klux Klan.
In July 1979, the Klan held a rally and viewing of the pro Klan film, The Birth of a Nation, in China Grove near Greensboro NC. This rally was violently attacked by C.W.P. members who assaulted Klansmen with clubs and burned a Confederate flag.
C.W.P. leader Paul Bermanzohn then taunted the Klan, “to attend our rally in Greensboro.”
On November 3, 1979, members of the K.K.K. and the American Nazi Party attacked a C.W.P. “Death to the Klan!” rally.
During the rally, a caravan of cars containing Klansmen and Nazis drove by the housing projects where the C.W.P. and other anti-Klan activists were congregating. Several marchers began to attack the Klansmens’ cars with small wooden sticks or by throwing rocks. According to witness Frazier Glenn Miller, the first shots were fired from a handgun by an anti-Klan demonstrator.
Klansmen and Nazis fired with shotguns, rifles and pistols. An 88 second gunbattle followed, leaving the outgunned C.W.P. members and their allies with 5 dead or dying and 10 injured.
The dead were James Waller, Sandi Smith, William Sampson, Michael Nathan and Cesar Cauce.
Forty Klansmen and Nazis, and several C.W.P./W.V.O. members were involved in the shootings; 16 Klansmen and Nazis were arrested and the 6 best cases were brought to trial first. Two criminal trials resulted in the acquittal of all defendants, though a 1985 civil lawsuit the survivors won a $350,000 judgment against the city, the K.K.K. and the Nazi Party for violating the civil rights of the demonstrators.
Both Roz and Don Pelles were at the scene, with Roz assuming a leadership role as more senior C.W.P. comrades were killed or wounded.
According to the testimony of Don Pelles;
Pretty soon after that I ran in to Roz (Pelles) who was pretty frantic who had been looking for me. And she realized that she was in charge, as all the other leaders were gone. That all of the WVO leadership were either dead or incapacitated so she was kind of the ranking leadership there.
Twenty one years later Roz Pelles was a leader of another controversial organization, the Black Radical Congress.
A creation of the Communist Party USA, Committees of Correspondence, Freedom Road Socialist Organization, Democratic Socialists of America and some veterans of the C.W.P., the B.R.C. sought to unite leftist blacks into a united revolutionary front.
In March 1998 “Endorsers of the Call” to found a Black Radical Congress included Roz Pelles, Washington, DC.
Participants in the B.R.C.’s founding conference in June 1998 included several activists connected to Barack Obama.
- Bill Fletcher, Jr. – a leader of both Democratic Socialists of America and the Freedom Road Socialist Organization. In 2008 Fletcher co-founded Progressives for Obama.
- Van Jones – a member of Standing Together to Organize a Revolutionary Movement and later Obama “Green Jobs Czar.”
- Cornel West – a leader of Democratic Socialists of America, who became, in 2008, a member of Obama’s Black Advisory Council and a supporter of Progressives for Obama.
- Rev. Jeremiah Wright – at the time, Obama’s pastor and friend. Wright spoke on a panel “Faith as a Weapon: Spirituality and the Role of the Church in the Radical Movement” alongside Cornel West and Michael Eric Dyson of Democratic Socialists of America and Trinity Church parishioner and one time Communist Party member Kevin Tyson.
It shows how much the U.S. labor movement has lost its way that the AFL-CIO would appoint someone like Roz Pelles to a key civil rights position.
It shows how out of touch is the US “progressive” movement that someone of Roz Pelles’ background would be entrusted with such an important position. Let alone be appointed to be one of the three “senior managers” of a progressive rally which would be endorsed by the Democrats’ organizing arm, Organizing for America.
Many US “progressives” regard Glenn Beck supporters and Tea Party activists as little better than the Klan.
God forbid that Roz Pelles’ modern comrades will try to provoke violence in order to discredit their Tea Party opponents.
No sane person wants to see any more bodies on the streets of America.