Waller, Signe (Barbara Burke) 1938-
WALLER, Signe (Barbara Burke) 1938-
PERSONAL: Born July 14, 1938, in Brooklyn, NY; married Carl Goldstein (an art historian; divorced, c. 1977); married James Waller (a pediatrician, educator, and union organizer), January, 1978 (deceased); married Jerry Heidtke (a union organizer; divorced, c. 1990); married Jim Rose (an organic farmer), 1991; children: (first marriage) Antonia, Alex. Education: Brooklyn College, B.A. (philosophy; with honors), 1960; Columbia University, Ph.D., 1969. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Playing baroque music on the recorder, walking in the woods.
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Roman & Littlefield Publishers, 4501 Forbes Blvd., Suite 200, Lanham, MD 20706. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Educator, author, and activist. Southeastern Massachusetts University (now University of Massachusetts—Dartmouth), North Dartmouth, MA, assistant professor of philosophy, 1967-71; Bennett College, Greensboro, NC, assistant professor of philosophy, 1971-75. Cone Hospital, Greensboro, NC, desk clerk and aide, beginning 1976; factory worker in Greensboro until 1986; adjunct instructor at universities in New York, North Carolina, and Wisconsin, 1985-89; Social Development Commission, Milwaukee, WI, research director, 1989-92; freelance writer. Founder, Greensboro Peace Center, 1971-75; political organizer, African Liberation Support Committee and Workers Viewpoint Organization, c. 1970s; press secretary, North Carolina Communist Workers Party, 1980-85. Vice president and member of board, Greensboro Justice Fund, 1990—; member, Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project national advisory committee. Earthcraft Farm (rural-urban cooperative farm project), co-operator, 1992-2002.
AWARDS, HONORS: German Government grant, 1961.
Love and Revolution: A Political Memoir—People's History of the Greensboro Massacre, Its Setting and Aftermath, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2002.
Contributor to periodicals, including Z and New Politics.
SIDELIGHTS: A personal memoir and people's history, Signe Waller's Love and Revolution is a detailed, in-depth, factual, and passionate account of events surrounding the Greensboro Massacre by a revolutionary activist who was central to those events. On November 3, 1979, Klansmen and Nazis drove into an anti-Klan rally in a black housing project in Greensboro, North Carolina, and opened fire on demonstrators, killing five people and wounding ten.
The author's husband, Dr. James Waller, was among those killed. A pediatrician, he had abandoned medicine to work in a textile mill and organize low-wage workers. Collectively, those killed came from Christian, Jewish, African-American, and Latino backgrounds. César Cauce, Michael Nathan, M.D., Sandra Smith, William Sampson, and James Waller, M.D., all were anti-racist community leaders helping to empower workers. As the Ku Klux Klan came out of the woodwork during a period of economic downturn in the late 1970s, these five and other activists joined the Workers Viewpoint Organization, sponsor of the November 3, 1979, anti-Klan rally, to confront the Klan and denounce its history of racist terror.
Afterward, Signe Waller, other survivors of the attack, and conscientious citizens sought justice. In 1985, after two acquittals in criminal court of Klansmen and Nazis seen on videotapes shooting at people, a precedent-setting civil rights suit, brought by the widowed and wounded, found some members of the KKK, the American Nazi Party, and the Greensboro Police Department jointly liable for wrongful death. A portion of the court-awarded settlement to the survivors was used to maintain the Greensboro Justice Fund as a grant-making organization that supports grassroots groups in the South in their struggles to advance economic and social justice for workers and to end racism, homophobia, and all bigotry.
The narrative in Love and Revolution takes in not only the deadly November 1979 assault but prior and subsequent events as well that help to elucidate how and why such an atrocity happened. The union organizing, massacre, cover-up, and struggle for justice are all essential moments in Waller's story. In a book that is intensely personal and intensely political, readers become acquainted with lovers and revolutionaries who did not accept the established order and dared to struggle to change it.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Library Journal, November 1, 2002, Deirdre Bray Root, review of Love and Revolution, p. 100.
News & Record (Greensboro, NC), November 3, 2002, Lorraine Ahearn, "Love and Death: Nov. 3, from the Inside Out."
Publishers Weekly, October 14, 2002, review of Love and Revolution, p. 78.
Carolinian Online,http://www.carolinianonline.com/ (April 21, 2003), Joe Killian, "Signe Waller Tells Story of 'Greensboro Massacre,' Talks Activism at UNCG."
Independent Weekly,http://www.indyweek.com/ (November 6, 2002), Matt Robinson, "A Memoir of the Greensboro Massacre."