Jim Grant, In Memory


Jim on a cousin’s front porch soon after his release from prison in 1979. From the Charlotte Observer, 29 July 1979. Courtesy, State Archives of North Carolina. I first saw this photograph in J. Christopher Schutz’s article, “The Burning of America: Race, Radicalism, and the “Charlotte Three” Trial in 1970s North Carolina,” which was published in the NC Historical Review in January 1999.

I will never forget what a local civil rights activist in Robersonville, 100 miles east of Raleigh, North Carolina, told me almost 40 years ago, when I noticed that she kept Jim Grant’s name and number by her telephone.

“Who else do you think I’m going to call if the Ku Klux Klan is shooting into my house or burning a cross in my front yard?” she asked me. (She was serious: the Klan had previously done both.) She looked at me as if I was crazy not to know why she’d keep his number so handy.

Then she told me, “Honey, when you call Jim Grant, he’s coming.  He’s coming right away, and when he gets here, I’m telling you, you will think that God sent you an avenging angel.”

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