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Greensboro Justice Fellowships

Today (11-3-2014) marks the 35th Anniversary of the Greensboro Massacre, when 5 organizers in Greensboro, NC were murdered by the Klan and Nazis as they demonstrated for racial and economic justice. Highlander is honored to carry on the legacy of César Cauce, Mike Nathan, Bill Sampson, Sandy Smith and Jim Waller through the Greensboro Justice Fund Fellowship at Highlander Center. We’ll be announcing details for the next class of the fellowship soon; in the meantime, you can learn more about these community organizers and their legacy at the links below:



For thirty five years, the Greensboro Justice Fund worked to increase capacity of the progressive movement by supporting over 300 cutting-edge, community based organizations working to end all forms of discrimination and exploitation.  The Fund was established to honor and carry on the work of César Cauce, Mike Nathan, Bill Sampson, Sandy Smith and Jim Waller, five community organizers who were murdered in Greensboro, NC on November 3, 1979 by the Ku Klux Klan and Nazis.

Believing in the power of and strategic need for committed and skilled organizers, the GJF at its 30th anniversary announced the donation of its assets to the Beloved Community Center and to Highlander to train organizers in the name of the Greensboro Justice Fund. The Fund was originally created using an award from a civil case that found the city of Greensboro and members of the Ku Klux Klan complicit in the murders.

Greensboro Justice Fund Fellows at Highlander began their year-long fellowship focused on learning, thinking and acting by attending a popular education and community organizing social change workshop at the Highlander Center, during which time fellows worked together as a class as well as part of a larger learning circle of people from around the country. Throughout the year, fellows will have access to mentoring, be networked to each other through technologies, attend a second training at the Highlander Center and be supported in other learning opportunities regionally and nationally to enhance their skills and build relationships.

The Highlander Center serves as a catalyst for grassroots organizing in the South and Appalachia and approaches its 81st anniversary as a world renowned beacon for progressive organizing.


César Cauce was a Cuban immigrant who graduated magna cum laude from Duke University. He was a leader in the long struggle for a union for Duke Hospital Workers and organized community support for Durham chicken plant workers on strike against intolerable working conditions and low wages

Dr. Mike Nathan had been an anti-war and civil rights student activist at Duke University and had become a “people’s physician” as chief pediatrician at Lincoln Community Health Center in Durham, NC. He was a leader in a movement to send aid to liberation fighters in then-apartheid Zimbabwe and protested maltreatment of hospital workers at Durham County General Hospital.

William Sampson was a student anti-war activist and president of his college student body. He studied theology at Harvard Divinity School and medicine at the University of Virginia. He left medicine to work and organize in a Greensboro Cone textile mill where he built the union and was a shoo-in for president of the local.

Sandra Smith was President of the student body at Greensboro’s Bennett College and an activist on behalf of African-American students. As leader of a union organizing drive at a Greensboro Cone Mill textile plant, she battled sexual harassment, low wages and unhealthy working conditions.

Dr. James Michael Waller had lent his expertise in medicine to poor people in need. He had trained at the Lincoln Hospital Collective in New York City, had flown to Wounded Knee to aid American Indian Movement activists under siege from the FBI, and had organized Black lung screenings in North Carolina textile mills. He left medicine to work and organize in a rural Cone Mills textile plant where he had led a successful strike and had been elected president of this union.

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