‘Emissaries of Communist conspiracy’ keep lips zipped

On this day in 1956: A subcommittee of the House Un-American Activities Committee convenes in Charlotte. Two days of hearings will single out Bill McGirt, a poet working at a Winston-Salem fish market, as the state’s top communist, but he and 10 other subpoenaed witnesses refuse to testify, and little new information surfaces.

“The conclusion is inescapable,” says Rep. Edwin Willis of Louisiana, “that these people are professional agitators, expert emissaries of the Communist conspiracy planted in the Southland. Who said it couldn’t happen here?”