National Council of Elders forms in Greensboro

by Eric Ginsburg

Eric Ginsburg | YES! Weekly

The newly formed National Council of Elders met underneath the sit-in monument of the A&T Four in Greensboro last week to announce its creation and purpose. The council came together to build bridges between past and present movements for social and economic justice, as shown by a video on its website expressing support for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“We assembled here in Greensboro because of its historic significance in the freedom movement of the last century and the building of the beloved community today,” longtime community organizer Phillip Lawson said in a prepared statement. “It is our desire to come together to help transform this divided nation where all of us regardless of race, color or religion, class, sexual orientation, or gender can live together in peace.”

In the photo above, United Farm Workers co-founder Dolores Huerta addressed the crowd assembled for the press conference with Southern freedom movement veteran Vicent Harding at her side. Among the luminaries from past movements were locals Nelson and Joyce Johnson, who run the Beloved Community Center.

“The past is a way of equipping us for the future and we ain’t in no way tired yet,” Nelson Johnson said at the press conference.

Other speakers expressed the importance of organizing across different issues and affirming the dignity of all people, as well as the need to use nonviolent direct action as a tactic. After remarks from various speakers, Bernice Johnson Reagon of the Freedom Singers fame led the group in song.