Add to GoodReads

Love and Revolution

A Political Memoir

Signe Waller

On November 3, 1979, members of the Ku Klux Klan drove into an anti-Klan rally in a black housing project in Greensboro, North Carolina and opened fire. They killed five demonstrators and wounded ten. All those killed were anti-racist community and labor leaders.

Love and Revolution: A Political Memoir is both memoir and people's history. It is a factually detailed and passionate account of events surrounding the Greensboro Massacre by a woman intimately connected with the events. The author's husband, a pediatrician who abandoned medicine to work in a textile mill and organize low-wage workers, was among the slain.

The activists killed were from Christian, Jewish, African American, and Latino backgrounds; they were César Cauce, Michael Nathan, M.D., William Sampson, Sandra Smith, and James Waller, M.D. All were in Greensboro that day on behalf of the Workers Viewpoint Organization (WVO), part of a New Communist Movement inspired by Marx, Lenin, and Mao Tse-Tung. As the Ku Klux Klan came out of the woodwork during a period of economic downturn in the late seventies, WVO activists took a militant stand against the Klan and its racism.

In the aftermath of Greensboro, survivors and concerned citizens faced an uphill battle for justice that eventually uncovered the involvement of official agencies in abetting the attack. At last, a 1985 civil suit found several of the attackers, as well as Greensboro police officers, liable for the wrongful death of Dr. Nathan.

The union organizing, the massacre, the coverup of official complicity, and the struggle for justice are all essential moments of this political memoir. Readers become acquainted with a neglected portion of recent U.S. history—the South of the 1970s and 1980s—and with lovers and revolutionaries who did not accept the established order and dared to struggle to change it. Waller explores the meaning and implications of the events for the survival of American democracy.
« less more »
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
Pages: 432Size: 5 3/4 x 9 1/8
978-0-7425-1364-8 • Hardback • October 2002 • $138.00 • (£90.00)
978-0-7425-1365-5 • Paperback • October 2002 • $46.00 • (£31.95)
Signe Waller was one of the organizers of the anti-Klan rally that turned into the Greensboro Massacre. Her husband, Dr. James Waller, and four close friends were killed in the massacre.
Part 1 Heirs to the Radical Sixties
Chapter 2 1The Making of a Radical or How I Became One of Them
Chapter 3 2 Jim Waller M.D. in the New Communist Movement
Chapter 4 3Nelson Johnson and the Politics of Black Liberation
Chapter 5 4Durham Activists Tell It Like It Is
Part 6 Home-Grown Bolsheviks
Chapter 7 5Organize! Make a Mighty River
Chapter 8 6People, People, Have You Heard?
Chapter 9 7And Cone You Own the Factories, But Us You Do Not Own
Chapter 10 8Something's Rising in the Nation
Chapter 11 9China Grove and the Preparations for November Third
Chapter 12 10 Like a Wolf on the Fold: The Greensboro Massacre
Part 13 Home-Grown Fascists
Chapter 14 11This Precipitous Hour
Chapter 15 12Resisting Upside Down Justice: The Civil Rights Movement Reawakened
Chapter 16 13A Lesser Crime to Kill a Communist
Chapter 17 14Green Light for Reactionary Violence: The State Trial in 1980
Chapter 18 15 The Blitz Amendment and Other McCarthyisms
Chapter 19 16A Winding Road to Justice: Bringing Federal Charges
Chapter 20 17Victory and a Whitewash: The Grand Jury in 1982-83
Chapter 21 18No Racial Animus? The Federal Trial in 1984
Part 22 On New Foundations
Chapter 23 19Partners in Crime: The Civil Rights Suit in 1985
Chapter 24 20Convened by Martyrs
Waller significantly adds to the historical record of a violent episode that took place in a city that long prided itself on its progressivism. . . . Intimate knowledge enables her to portray the slain demonstrators as real people cut down in their prime. Love and Revolution not only sheds light on what survivors call the Greensboro Massacre, but also illuminates how 88 seconds of gunfire that shook a housing project 24 years ago echo to this day.
The Philadelphia Inquirer

This is a marvelous recounting of how the CWP managed to organize textile workers, not only in Greensboro but also throughout North Carolina. Recommended.

Signe Waller's life exemplifies how the political and the personal are one. Her courage, her unflinching honesty, and her ability to look critically at herself, her beloved husband, her friends, and her enemies make this book essential reading. To understand what happened in Greensboro on November 3, 1979 is to understand a movement, a country, and a generation. Signe Waller has given us, through Love and Revolution: A Political Memoir, a rare gift.
Emily Mann, The McCarter Theatre, Princeton

Signe Waller's perceptive biographical sketches in Love and Revolution rescue an important part of American history that is usually overlooked. Her work does for the social justice movements of the 1960s and after what the movie 'Reds' did for the revolutionary generation of the post-World War One era: it discloses what radicals and revolutionaries were fighting for and why they decided to follow that path in life.
Kenneth Robert Janken, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Signe Waller's life personifies courageous political commitment and integrity. Her story represents an intimate and deeply moving portrayal of one person's struggle for justice. This extraordinary book speaks to the best in all of us.
Manning Marable, M. Moran Weston/Black Alumni Council Professor of African-American Studies, Columbia University

For Signe and Jim Waller, the politics of social justice were never theoretical. Jim died for his principles, murdered by the Klan in November of 1979. In Love and Revolution, Signe relives these years with a vividness and generosity of spirit that make for both a magnificent memoir and an important chronicle of our time.
Fitzhugh Mullan, author of White Coat, Clenched Fist: The Political Education of An American Physician

Signe Waller gives us in this moving memoir an important piece of the hidden history of our time. Her story tells us so much about our country, about things to be ashamed of, and about people to be proud of.
Howard Zinn, author of A People's History of the United States and professor emeritus of Political Science, Boston University

This is an important look at a tragic moment in civil rights history—almost written out of history and memory. But now a victim—who refuses to be victimized—has told the story.
Julian Bond, Chairman Emeritus, NAACP

The fight-back after the Greensboro Massacre was a watershed in the struggle against racism. It became that because the widows and other victims refused to give up and organized effectively. I know of no instance where tragedy has been transformed so creatively. This book weaves together the personal and political so that we come to know the martyrs and survivors, who were part of that remarkable generation radicalized by the 1960s. They beleived passionately that they could change the world and—although they made tactical mistakes—succeeded for a time in uniting people of color and whites in struggle in one of the most repressive states in the south.
Anne Braden, Southern Organizing Committee for Economic and Social Justice

A serious, complex, and important study of one of our city's most devastating, least understood events. Waller is able to zoom in and show what it was like to live through this searing and sorrowful event - seen now through the eyes of a woman who is older, wiser, and more circumspect thatn the strident propagandist of 20 years ago.
News and Record: Greensboro, Nc

This is rich, new material for historians and students of the 1970s, the labor movement, and recent Southern history.
Socialism and Democracy

A comprehensive, heavily footnoted account with an invaluable index.
High Point Enterprise

An important account of history.
Anderson Independent

With a wonderfully hybrid structure combining biography, autobiography, journalism, history, and trenchant political criticism, Waller has provided us with a vivid picture of the community of activists that once sustained her personal and political life, as well as of an event that forever altered it.
Contemporary Sociology

Waller weaves her deeply personal story into a sweeping historical account that details the shifting alliances among factions of the New Communist Movement. A comprehensive, heavily footnoted account with an invaluable index.

—All the complex issues in understanding immigrant adaption processes, ethnic mobility, and ethnic identity are clearly illustrated in this fascinating & vivid case study.

—Interviews, archival records, and historical and contemporary studies offer students a model of Mills' "the sociological imagination" and the linking of biography and history.

—A novel case that is intrinsically fascinating to students.

—Provides a clear demonstration of the intersection of gender, class, and ethnicity in understanding differential mobility rates for various immigrant groups.