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STATEMENT BY REV.

NELSON JOHNSON RELATED TO JORGE CORNELL’S FILING


OF TITLE VI COMPLAINT TO US JUSTICE DEPARTMENT
November 3, 1979

I come to this media gathering as a Christian minister, a follower of Jesus, who is my Lord and Savior.
Although often projected as an apostle of revenge, manipulation and hate, I have, for more than 20 years,
preached, practiced and counseled non-violent engagement as a way to transform our communities, our
city and our nation. I reaffirm that view today. It remains my conviction that social and economic justice
and, indeed, the practice of restorative justice are indispensable components of a peaceful society.
It was more than two years ago that I met Jorge Cornell and the Almighty Latin King and Queen Nation.
At the time Jorge had a job driving a forklift at a company in High Point. Many of the other members of
his organization were also employed. He stated that he wanted to promote unity between street groups, or
gangs, and to build greater unity between African-Americans and Latinos.
His expressed desire to work for justice and peace was like an answer to prayer, as it resonated with my
most heartfelt convictions. Like all of us, Jorge wears the scars of his life’s journey – a journey of
extreme poverty, of the breakdown of family as a child, followed by a journey of social prejudice,
discrimination and mistreatment as an adult. Nevertheless, over the last two years I have found Jorge to
be one of the most honest, candid and committed persons that I have had the pleasure of knowing.
Since Jorge has been in Greensboro, he has been racially profiled, harassed, unjustly arrested on
numerous occasions, and even shot. Yet he persisted in seeking to steer the young men and women in the
ALKQN down the road of justice and peace. I have witnessed him expel a number of people from the
organization because they refused to live up to the disciplines of the local organization, which included no
using or dealing in drugs, no stealing, and no provoking of violence with others. They have, like the great
majority of citizens of this country, maintained the right to defend themselves.
The Greensboro Police Department (GPD) in general and the Gang Unit in particular have met Jorge’s
efforts of community building and peacemaking in Greensboro with a withering multi-pronged assault,
including harassment on the job, harassment and unjust arrest on the street and forcing a level of hardship
that most citizens of Greensboro would find difficult to understand. I, along with other ministers, have
counseled with him and members of his organization. We have come to Jorge and members of his
organization’s legal and economic assistance on numerous occasions. I have tried to offer my deepest
compassion and to express my heartfelt understanding of the difficulties he has and continues to face.
I stand with Jorge today in filing his Title VI complaint because it is the right thing to do. In so doing I am
following my Lord who dared to stand with those that society deemed unclean and untouchable. Jesus
refused to accept the social standards of his time and stated with clarity and compassion: “as you have
done it unto the least of these my brothers and sisters you have done it unto me.”
I call on my fellow Greensboro citizens and residents of all races and social classes to let us not rebuff the
efforts of those who are trying to make life better for themselves and for others. Let us not rush to join
the mob of condemnation. I know what it means to be continually condemned. Instead of condemning,
let us with compassion, courage and humility reach out to each other with a sincere gesture of
understanding. We must be bold and honest enough to hold the mirror up before our police department,
our justice system and, indeed, ourselves. We would do well to remember the words of Jesus: “ He who is
without sin let him throw the first stone.” I invite and urge all of us - Black, White, Latino, Asian, and
others to work together to make Greensboro a much better city.

Rev. Nelson N. Johnson


nelsonj@belovedcommunitycenter.org
336-230-0001