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Day the National Guard Swept A&T's Scott Hall

Date: May 20, 1979

Author: David Newton

Biographical/Historical abstract: David Newton was a staff writer for the Greensboro Daily News in 1979.

Additional contributor: Jim Stratford


In this May 20, 1979 Greensboro Daily News article, David Newton recalls the National Guard raid on Scott Hall on the North Carolina A&T State University (A&T) campus during protests in 1969. Newton writes of the death of student Willie Grimes during the protests, which remains unsolved. He notes bullet holes in the facade of Scott Hall and a marker commemorating Grimes at the Dudley Administration Building. Newton acknowledges allegations that Grimes was shot by the police, but notes that students were also firing weapons and that police claim the bullet that killed Grimes was of a different caliber than that carried by officers.

Newton details events leading up to protest on the A&T campus, starting with the local school administrators restricting Dudley High student Claude Barnes from taking office as student body president. Newton writes of the sweep of Scott Hall following the night of Grimes' death. Former Mayor Jack Elam shared his unease over the decision to sweep the building, and A&T President Lewis Dowdy recalls little discussion between himself and the National Guard. Dowdy says the incident has resulted in the problems of “repairing the confidence people have in the fairness of justice.”

Newton continues by questioning why such an event occurred in Greensboro. Mayor Elam is quoted as saying it “was the frustrated feeling of black people that they were not being listened to.” The North Carolina State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights criticized the Dudley PTA and administration, as well as the community for not recognizing the need for better communication. Police Chief W. E. Swing also recognizes that officers were “rigid in their thinking” at the time with a lack of interest in community betterment.

Newton concludes the article by looking at the effect of the event and other issues of the era on community members. He writes that Claude Barnes and Nelson Johnson, A&T student body vice-president in 1969, have turned to communism. Vincent McCullough, A&T student body president in 1969, is set to be released from prison in May. Sarah Herbin, members of the N.C. State Advisory Committee, is concerned about race relations in the state and says housing and employment continue to be problems. Dowdy says the event taught Greensboro blacks they must become involved in political decision making “not after the fact, but before it.”

This article was clipped and saved in a scrapbook on race relations by Clarence “Curly” Harris, manager of the Greensboro Woolworth store at the time of the 1960 sit-ins that spawned lunch counter sit-ins across the South and rejuvenated the civil rights movement.


Format of original: Newspaper Clippings

Collection: Clarence Lee Harris Papers

Repository: The University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Item#: 1.4.1090

Rights: It is responsibility of the user to follow the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). Materials are not to be reproduced in published works without written consent, and any use should credit Civil Rights Greensboro and the appropriate repository.

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