Thursday, June 08, 2006

Is The Truth knowable? Whose Truth?

A previous post (here and here) asked some thoughtful questions about our methodology. These questions are answered in more detail in the methodology section to our report introductionaccessible here . I have excerpted below the relevant bits to the poster's questions about the completeness and fairness of our work.

Is the Truth Knowable?


Entire disciplines of philosophy, history, science and cultural studies are devoted to the debate on whether humans are capable of knowing “the Truth” and the examination of the politics and power relations embedded in any endeavor claiming to reveal it. Engaging these epistemological debates is beyond the scope of our report but one need not be a philosopher to appreciate the inherent limitations of the GTRC’s task of truth-seeking. We faced the same constraints in our research that all truth commissions face, including (among others):

- gaps in available evidence;

- imperfect memory;

- inadequate time, funding;

- lack of sufficient staff.

Reluctance to offer statements

In our research effort, we had to contend with gaps in our information that stemmed from reluctance to give statements because of many potential statement givers’ fear of retaliation or distrust of our process. In some cases, there is evidence that potential statement givers were explicitly discouraged by people outside the Commission from speaking to us (see chapters on City Response and Conclusions). As a result, our report is not as complete as it might have been. However, we made every effort to address these gaps by consulting trial transcripts, depositions and other available recorded interviews. Where full transcripts were no longer available, we consulted secondary literature (see Data Sources below).


Many (but not all) truth commissions were able to address gaps in information by using subpoena power that we, as a grassroots commission, did not have. However, we note that a subpoena is no guarantee of complete or truthful information and could work counter to the goal of reconciliation by forcing people to particiapte in a process about which they harbor feelings of fear or suspicion. Moreover, we believe that the voluntary offering of statements by many parties who were openly suspicious or hostile to our process is more meaningful than forcing statement givers to the table; the fact that these people offered statements is a testament to the integrity of our process not only as a truth-seeking exercise but as a step toward reconciliation.

Control of information

There are always significant challenges to fact-finding related to government agencies that maintain strict control over information. This was especially true with regard to federal agencies that released documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) that were nearly blacked out completely with redactions. In addition, we found that “discovery” allowable in the civil suit (i.e. the release of internal information to the plaintiffs) was limited both by broad federal immunity.

Imperfections of memory

Eyewitness testimony is notoriously fluid and idiosyncratic Memories of details are vulnerable to erosion by time (especially after 25 years), influence from other sources of information, and shifting political and social pressures that encourage the recollection of some facts and discourage the expression of others. Therefore, for the purposes of fact-finding, we preferred, when available, testimony taken closer in time to the event. However, memories also provide insights into the human cost and experience of the events and paint a richer picture of how the event lives on for people today.

Although we faced limitations and challenges in our research, they do not negate the possibility that rigorous fact-finding from the available evidence can produce a well-supported public record of what happened. We asked these fundamental questions of the evidence:

· Does the statement of a single witness sufficiently support a claim as fact?

· If not, how much information is needed to corroborate a fact?

· How do opposing and similar facts fit together? Can seemingly opposing evidence in fact describe different aspects of the same picture, or does accepting one preclude the veracity of the other?

· Jumbled recollection is often a symptom of traumatic stress. Does inconsistency among an individual’s recollections, especially one who was an eyewitness to a traumatic event, taint any particular observation?

We have consulted a wide variety of sources to corroborate evidence as much as possible and have noted in the text where corroboration was not possible. However, witnesses can also provide truthful accounts that are not corroborated. Occasionally, information is not subject to multiple observations and conversations between important actors on contentious topics usually take place with a limited number of participants and observers. If the statement provides sufficient detail, subject to other indices of credibility noted below, we believe it is appropriate to accept its claims.

We made every effort to fact check, corroborate and impartially weigh evidence (see below). These facts were assembled to produce one cohesive story of what we believe transpired.

However, this fact finding alone was not sufficient to understand what happened in all its complexity. Rather, this framework of a sequence of facts is brought to life by the accumulated narratives from individual statement-givers. In addition to adding a human dimension to verifiable facts, public testimony also provides the benefit of allowing a space for people who have not had the opportunity to share their experience and perspective in the past.

Statements from people who know about the events, the background causes, and the consequences reflected a wide variety of perspectives, in people’s own words. Interviews were conducted without rigid closed-end protocols in order to allow the statement-taker to tailor the interview to the individual, follow up on unexpected information and to make the statement-giving process itself an instrument of healing by allowing some leeway for the statement-giver to pursue areas she wished to express.

Narrative information helps us understand how individuals experienced these events and what facts different people see as relevant to telling the story. Why did different actors do what they did? How did events change them? These perspectives cannot be cross-checked and reconciled into one coherent account – in fact, revealing their diversity was precisely the point. This difference in perspective is often (though not always) why misunderstanding and conflicts occur. Exposing some of the differences in experience and perspective provides a human, lived dimension to the framework of fact-finding, and was an explicit aim of our research.

Data sources

Our research drew on a variety of data sources. In addition to our own interviews, we consulted GPD internal records (including statements, investigation reports, physical evidence, medical examiner reports, internal memos; Internal Affairs interview summaries; police and news photos and slow-motion news footage); selected trial testimony from all three court cases; federal Grand Jury testimony; civil suit depositions and criminal case pre-trial interviews; and a wealth of civil suit discovery material including internal records from the GPD, FBI and BATF.

Because the official copies of trial transcripts from the criminal trials have been destroyed, availability of copies was idiosyncratic. We were granted access to transcripts through the personal collections of Judge James Long and playwright Emily Mann, as well as those available in the UNC Wilson Archive because they were used as part of the civil trial. Where transcripts were not available, whenever possible we supplemented with secondary sources such as newspaper reports, journal articles and books. However, because they were secondary sources and filtered through the authors’ own interpretations, these accounts of testimony were not given as much weight as primary accounts.

Procedural fairness

The GTRC is not a judicial body (see chapter on Injustice in the Justice system for more on the different missions of courts and TRCs and what our goals were in investigating the trials). There are no adversarial parties, no cross-examination of witnesses in our hearings or statement taking, although many of the documents we used in our research were court documents that had been the subject of cross-examination.

Nevertheless, anyone was free to offer a statement and we considered all statements and evidence impartially, as explained above. The need to provide an opportunity to pose questions was partially addressed by asking statement-givers whether they had questions they wanted the Commission to address or to have other key players answer. In addition, for all parties who were to be named in association with wrongdoing in the report and from whom we had had not yet received a statement, we made every attempt to re-contact them to offer one final opportunity to offer a statement. Indeed, one key police officer accepted this invitation and offered his statement in the final days of report writing.

All statement-givers, whether their statements were delivered in writing or orally, were asked to sign a statement affirming that there was nothing in their statement that was willfully false.

Standard of evidence

Our standard of evidence, like many truth commissions, is the “balance of probabilities,” also known as “preponderance of evidence” This means that based on the totality of evidence before us, if an individual piece of evidence was judged “more likely than not” to be true, we took it as fact. For simplicity of language, we at times express this standard as “common sense” or “reasonableness.” This standard was applied uniformly to every statement regardless of the content of the information or identity of the witness.

As stated above, the GTRC is not a court. Accordingly, it was not bound by rules of evidence. The production of a single statement on a contested issue could easily satisfy the preponderance of evidence standard if it is judged to be credible (see below on weighing evidence). Before the statement, there was no evidence. Now with the statement, regardless of whether or not the witness is sworn, there is new evidence that might tip the scales in favor of a finding. We indicate the finding has met the standard of “more likely than not” by saying that “we find there is sufficient evidence.”

In some cases, the “preponderance of the evidence” standard is greatly surpassed where multiple sets of information aggregate, for example when multiple witnesses present similar versions and/or there is corroboration of evidence from other sources (including videotape or physical evidence), as we note in our findings by indicating that there is “substantial” evidence.

One possible disadvantage of the “preponderance of the evidence” standard is the exclusion of some information. A fact that is unreasonable or not credible may be excluded from consideration. How we made that determination is outlined below.

Weighing conflicting evidence

In assessing the probability that a piece of evidence was likely to be true, we used the same means that everyday people use when assessing credibility of a claim, including:

· What was the person’s ability to remember and relate details about the observation he/she is presenting? If asked in multiple ways, does he/she relate the details in a consistent fashion?

· Is the source in a position to know the evidence he/she presents? That is, did the source hear or see the evidence directly or is she/he reporting something she/he heard from somewhere else? Hearsay evidence is not admissible in court, but we accepted hearsay evidence if it was otherwise judged credible.

·

· Is the evidence presented against the source’s interest? That is, does the source have a reason to lie? Is there any noticeable bias toward any particular version of events?

· What is the past record of the source’s version of events? Has it been consistent?

· Is the evidence consistent with other evidence from different sources?

· Is the evidence logical/reasonable?

· Was the evidence sworn? Cross-examined?

Clearly, this is not a checklist of criteria that all evidence must meet in order to be assigned credibility. For example, because a source presents evidence that might be in his or her interest is not in itself sufficient reason to doubt its credibility. However, if the evidence is against the source’s interest, it adds significant weight to its credibility.

Not all of the evidence we considered was sworn or cross-examined because we are not a court. But some of the trial documents that we reviewed were indeed both sworn and cross-examined, which is an aspect we considered in weighing the credibility. Trial and Grand Jury testimony, civil suit depositions, and written answers to plaintiffs’ interrogatories are all sworn. For trial (but not Grand Jury) testimony and depositions, attorneys for both sides are present and can cross-examine and make objections. Statements to GPD and GTRC are not sworn and attorneys are not present; pre-trial interviews for criminal cases are not sworn, nor are FBI interviews. FBI interviews are summarized by the interviewer and are not transcripts. GPD statements are most often summarized by the interviewer, but sometimes transcripts for the more extensive interviews with suspects were provided.

This list enumerates considerations we used in weighing evidence and illustrates that weighing evidence is an unavoidably subjective exercise. But when done in an explicit way, testing information against these indicators, the process of fact finding can be made much less arbitrary.

Findings of fact and interpretive conclusions

Our primary research goal was to provide an accurate public record of what happened so that people could begin a dialogue about what these facts mean and what should be done to address them. However, as a Commission, we also felt that a neutral recitation of facts was insufficient. People who have been wronged do not need a truth commission to merely record and repeat their stories, telling them what they already know. We believe it is the obligation of the Commission to go further and make conclusions that interpret the larger significance of events, assess where there have been wrongs committed and assign responsibility for those wrongs. As most truth commissions have also done, we make assessments of the significance of these facts using both legal (according to constitutional and N.C. state law) and moral principles as standards.

Some wrongs are not necessarily a violation of law but may constitute a moral or ethical breach. For example, we considered some wrongs of omission and commission to be inconsistent with a modern democratic society and morally or ethically wrong.

A basic distinction is made between those who passively allow unjust systems to persist and those who actively contribute individually wrongful acts, either of omission or commission. Moreover, we believe that the attribution of moral responsibility differs for individual and state actors. The latter should be held to a higher standard, not only because of the power with which they are entrusted by the community (including the monopoly on the use of force and the power to arrest and detain) but also their responsibility to protect citizen rights and wellbeing. When wrongs are committed by agents of the state or when institutions designed to protect basic ideals of justice fail in that mission, the consequences are often more widespread harm to the body politic and the continuation of a corrosive atmosphere of fear and threatened violence (see chapters on City response and Injustice in the justice system)

In addition to individual actors, the Commission also discussed more broadly how the very system of racial and class injustice contributed to negative outcomes. Ethical or moral standards today, or even an evolution in the law, can also serve as a basis upon which to make judgments about things that occurred in the past. For example, the Commission explored not only what the law was that allowed lawyers to strike potential jurors based on their race, but also why such a jury does not satisfy the ideal of justice and why this has changed to a different standard today.

On a related issue, the blog poster asked why we could call the juries “all white” when one member on the state jury was a Cuban. This is a complicated issue, one that also comes up when people refer to 4 or of the 5 victims being "white." Racial and ethnic identity is obviously very contested ground (there are entire academic disciplines devoted to it) because these concepts are so deeply intertwined with politics and power. In addition, self-identifiers have greatly evolved over time. Many Hispanics refer to themselves as racially white, which is why the 2000 the US census started using the distinction between 'white Hispanic' and 'white not Hispanic.' It would have been preferable to have Mr. Manduley identify his own ethnicity/race, but he declined to participate in our process.

One final note. Although I am moving away from Greensboro, I will continue to follow this process from afar on the blogs (I hope that someone takes on Jill's earlier suggestion about setting up a blog specifically for TRC discussion) and will be periodically available for any further questions and discussion (although I am going to be checked out for the next few weeks on vacation, trying to recover my sanity).


Emily Harwell

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Ubuntu Weekly #66

We did it! We fulfilled our mandate, presenting to the community last Thursday a report with our findings on the “context, causes, sequence and consequences of Nov. 3, 1979,” and the mandated “recommendations for concrete healing.”
  • Warm thanks to all our friends at Bennett College for Women for all they did to help make our ceremony in the historic college’s lovely Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel such a magical event, and thanks to Dr. Alma Adams for hosting the post-ceremony reception in the renovated Steele Hall Art Gallery.
  • With the report’s release, we’re excited to see on the blogs people energetically debating their own diverse interpretations around a foundation of facts instead of misperceptions and myths that have persisted since 1979. That’s a welcome step forward.
  • We’re especially encouraged by action toward one of our recommendations already beginning in the blogosphere at The Editor’s Log of the News & Record’s John Robinson.
  • Volunteer of the Week: Andy Coon, documentary filmmaker whose “Greensboro’s Child” tells a story of Nov. 3, 1979, we thank for engagement and support all along the way, including help making our CD-roms happen (they’ll be available next week). Thanks, Andy! Also, since this is the last edition of Ubuntu Weekly, thanks to all who volunteered or otherwise assisted or contributed to this process, even if just by thinking a good thought. Thanks, Everybody!
  • Closing progress indicators: Nearly 400 people attended our Report Release Ceremony; our Ubuntu Weekly e-mail list grew to 857 recipients; we’re almost out of the 1,000 magazine-sized copies of our Executive Summary.
Latest news coverage:
The Lex Files blog coverage, ongoing
Related News & Record coverage, Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Lorraine Ahearn column, News & Record, Sunday, May 28, 2006
Allen Johnson column, News & Record, Sunday, May 28, 2006
Chosen Fast blog coverage, Saturday, May 27, 2006
News & Record coverage, Saturday, May 27, 2006
NPR coverage, Friday, May 26, 2006
Richard Prince column, Journal-isms’s, Friday May 26, 2005
Lorraine Ahearn column, News & Record, Friday, May 26, 2006
News & Record coverage, Friday, May 26, 2006
Associated Press coverage, Friday, May 26, 2006
ThatsWhatzUp! blog coverage, Friday, May 26, 2006
WXII-12 coverage, Thursday, May 25, 2006
News & Record coverage, Thursday, May 25, 2006
Ed Cone Blog coverage, Thursday, May 25, 2006
Related Arkansas Democratic Gazette coverage, Wednesday. May 24, 2006

UBUNTU – “I am what I am because of who we all are.” For a more complete definition, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

GTRC to issue report tomorrow

The GTRC will release its report to the entire community at a ceremony tomorrow (May 25th) evening. (For details click here.) Commissioners will issue the report verbally, through a printed executive summary, and through the full report, which will be made available during the 6pm ceremony at our website. Hard copies and cd-rom versions of the report will also be made available at a later date through all Greensboro Public Library branches. Potential readers who can not access a Greensboro Public Library branch should email info@greensborotrc.org to request a copy.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

S. AFRICAN CLERIC TO SPEAK AT GTRC REPORT RELEASE CEREMONY MAY 25

A GTRC news release:

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Dr. Peter Storey, former prison chaplain to Nelson Mandela, will speak during the May 25 ceremony at which the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission (GTRC) will release its final report, completing its mandate and setting a new milestone in the city’s historic effort to examine and reconcile with its past.

Free copies of the executive summary will be given to all who attend the ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25, in the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel at Bennett College for Women, 900 E. Washington St. The event also will include music, prayers, and verbal and video presentations of the report’s conclusions and recommendations.

Representatives of local and national groups that have signed on as GTRC Report Receivers – agreeing in the interest of continuing community reconciliation to read and discuss at least the executive summary – will formally accept the report at the ceremony, as will Dr. Johnnetta B. Cole, president of Bennett College, which will house the archives of this process.

The report itself will be released to the public and posted online (at http://www.greensborotrc.org/) the evening of May 25, without the customary early release to media outlets. Instead of relying on others’ interpretations, the public will be able to read and process for themselves the GTRC’s findings and conclusions on the context, causes, sequence and consequence of Greensboro’s tragedy of Nov. 3, 1979.

On that day, Klan and Nazi members killed five labor organizers and wounded ten others at a “Death to the Klan” rally organized in a public housing community by the Communist Workers Party. Klan and Nazi defendants were acquitted of murder and civil rights violations in state and federal criminal trials. However, a civil trial found that Klansmen, Nazis and two members of the Greensboro Police Department were jointly liable for one wrongful death.

The GTRC’s report, the full text of which is more than 300 well-documented pages, will clarify the widespread confusion, rumors and misinformation that have swirled in the aftermath of the tragedy, providing important context and specific findings in topical areas with continuing implications including

· details of events, issues and preparations for the planned Nov. 3, 1979, march and conference;
· police performance and police/community relations;
· relevant history of Greensboro and involved organizations including the Klan, the Communist Workers Party and federal law-enforcement agencies;
· history of black power and multicultural organizing efforts in Greensboro;
· labor and labor organizing history;
· justice system issues;
· related topics including provocative language, First Amendment rights, firearms and racism;

The report also includes recommendations in areas including community acknowledgment and institutional reform.

The ceremony will be the culmination of nearly two years of work by the seven volunteer Commissioners and the Commission’s paid staff – the “Commission phase” of the grassroots, democratic process begun several years ago by the Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project (GTRCP). Storey, former president of the South African Council of Churches and chair of the selection panel for the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, played a key advisory role in the beginning of this process.

As co-chair of the GTCRP’s National Advisory Committee, Storey shared the belief that examining this event could help bring healing to community divisions highlighted by the tragedy. He was instrumental in formulating the following language in the GTRC’s Mandate:

“The passage of time alone cannot bring closure, nor resolve feelings of guilt and lingering trauma, for those impacted by the events of November 3, 1979. Nor can there be any genuine healing for the city of Greensboro unless the truth surrounding these events is honestly confronted, the suffering fully acknowledged, accountability established, and forgiveness and reconciliation facilitated.”

After the ceremony, the GTRC will cease to exist. The work of continuing community reconciliation based on the collective truth offered in the report, and of implementing the GTRC’s recommendations, will become the responsibility of Report Receivers – which include a variety of religious, civic and other community groups – and the GTCRP, in keeping with that organization’s 2003 Declaration of Intent, which called for six to 12 months of discussions following the report’s release.

In addition to availability online, copies of the report will be available in all branches of the Greensboro Public Library and at other public places. The GTRCP, Report Receivers and other organizations are expected to plan discussions in various settings around town.

Other communities in the South and elsewhere have followed the GTRC’s work, which has included gathering statements and documentary evidence, and holding public hearings and a community dialogue. Success in Greensboro offers promise that the truth-seeking model previously used in South Africa, Peru and elsewhere can be effective in U.S. communities.

Representatives of other communities, students and journalists interested in continuing study will be able to access information about the GTRC’s work through the Bennett College archives (http://www.bennett.edu/), and through contact information and other details that will be available at the GTRC’s web site, which will be preserved through a partnership linking Bennett and the Greensboro Public Library (http://www.greensborolibrary.org/).

The International Center for Transitional Justice (www.ictj.org), an organization founded by one of the architects of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, is serving as a consultant for the GTRC, as it has for similar efforts in nations including Ghana, Sierra Leone and Timor-Leste (East Timor).
# # # # #

Monday, May 15, 2006

Thanks to Duke Students

As part of their course "Arts and Human Rights," four Duke University students have contributed to the work of the GTRC.

John Doherty and Stephanie Vance recently organized a benefit concert to raise awareness and funds (over $400) for the Commission's work. To see pictures of the event, click here.

And Sarah Finkelstein and Sarah Stein developed a high school curriculum around the GTRC and November 3rd called "Making Peace with History." For a bit more information, click here.

Thanks to these students and their professors, Catherine Admay and Louise Meintjes.

GTRC Report Receivers Clarification

Anyone -- groups and individuals -- can receive copies of our report, which is scheduled to be released on Thursday, May 25.

You can pick up your copies at the ceremony that day or you can have them mailed to you afterwards. If you prefer to have them mailed, please email info@greensborotrc.org with your name, requested number of copies and mailing address.

Also, we have heard from several people that their requests to become report receivers have been unanswered. If you have made such a request and not received a response, please contact us again at info@greensborotrc.org. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Yvonne Johnson and Jeff Thigpen's Public Hearing Statement Transcripts

Please click here to read the transcript of Yvonne Johnson and Jeff Thigpen's public hearing statements.

  • Yvonne Johnson is a Greensboro native and graduate of Dudley High School and Bennett College for Women. In addition to an undergraduate degree in psychology, Johnson has a masters degree in guidance and counseling from NCA&T State University. She is director of One Step Further, Inc. Mediation Services and was the founder of Summit House. The recipient of numerous awards and honors, Johnson also is president of Bennett's Board of Trustees.
  • Jeff Thigpen was a member of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners from 1998 to 2004 and is currently an elected official serving as the Guilford County Register of Deeds. In the 1990s, Thigpen was a coordinator of the Business/Pulpit Forum Work Group, which was actively involved in bringing diverse groups together to get clarity and help resolve issues surrounding the K-Mart Boycott. He has an undergraduate degree from Guilford College and a masters degree from UNC-Greensboro.

Special thanks to Riley Driver, GTRC volunteer and Grimsley High School student, for transcribing this statement.

posted by Jill Williams, exec. dir.

Richard Koritz and Deborah Kelly's Public Hearing Statement Transcript

Please click here to read the transcripts of Richard Koritz and Deborah Kelly's statements.

  • Richard Koritz is a representative of the Letter Carriers Union to the AFL-CIO and managing partner of a small multicultural publishing company. A retired postal employee, he is co-leader of the weekly anti-war vigil in downtown Greensboro, and a former member of the Greensboro Human Relations Commission, for which he chaired the Police Complaint Review Committee. He also has served on the board of the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.
  • Deborah Kelly is the executive director of Centro de Acción Latino, which serves Latino newcomers and works to empower emerging Latino leaders. Born in Puerto Rico, she moved to Greensboro 12 years ago and lives with her three children and her husband. She serves on the board of the N.C. Latino Coalition and is chair of the Guilford Health Partnership.

Special thanks to Eric Smith, GTRC Volunteer and Davidson College student, for transcribing this statement.

posted by Jill Williams, exec. dir.

Ubuntu Weekly #63

We offer thanks this week to about 70 people who turned out for our GTRC Report Receivers gathering at Tuscana Cuisine. We were encouraged by the warm spirit and broad commitment to using our final report in continuing work for community reconciliation.

  • We also offer thanks to the Wachovia Foundation for a $1,000 contribution and to the InSight Fund for a $1,500 contribution in support of our work.
  • Volunteer of the Week: Dr. Millicent Brown, a member of the history faculty at N.C. A&T State University who – in addition to speaking at our third public hearing – took time during the busy close of the semester to review and offer suggestions on one of our final report chapters. Thanks, Millicent!
  • This week’s progress indicator: More than 40 local and national organizations so far have agreed to become GTRC Report Receivers.

Latest news coverage:
Related News & Record coverage, May 9, 2006
Related Brown Alumni Magazine coverage, May 3, 2006

Our upcoming events:
GTRC Report Release Ceremony, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25, 2006, Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel, Bennett College for Women, 900 E. Washington St.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Ubuntu Weekly #62

We’re now in our last month of operation, pushing hard to complete our final report, plan the Report Release Ceremony and clear out the office by May’s end when the GTRC ceases to exist.

  • All supporters affiliated with organizations willing to become GTRC Report Receivers are encouraged to join us this Thursday at our Report Receivers Gathering at Tuscana Cuisine (details below). Come learn more about the May 25 GTRC Report Release Ceremony, mingle and enjoy refreshments with other receivers, and discuss post-Commission work for community reconciliation.
  • Volunteer of the Week: Rev. Mazie Ferguson, president of the Greensboro Pulpit Forum, who shared her experience and analyses at our third public hearing and since has helped us with fundraising, advocacy and even poetry. Thanks, Mazie!
  • This week’s progress indicator: Seventeen chapters plus numerous annexes summing up our 22 months of work have been assembled into a final report and are in various stages of drafting and finalizing by a hard-working team including Commissioners, staff, consultants and volunteers.

Latest news coverage:
Carolina Peacemaker related coverage, April 26, 2006
Yes! Weekly coverage, April 25, 2006
Related Yes! Weekly coverage, April 25, 2006
Associated Press sample coverage, April 25, 2006
Washington Post mention, April 25, 2006

Our upcoming events:
(THIS WEEK!)GTRC Report Receivers Gathering, 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 4, Tuscana Cuisine, 709 E. Market St. Meeting to discuss what it means to be a report receiver, including plans for the report release ceremony. To become a Receiver, contact our volunteer coordinator, Samantha Hargrove, at
samhargrove@hotmail.com or 336-988-2019.

GTRC Report Release Ceremony, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25, 2006, Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel, Bennett College for Women, 900 E. Washington St.

UBUNTU – “I am what I am because of who we all are.” For a more complete definition, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Ubuntu Weekly #61

Thanks going out this week to the Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro for an additional $10,000 grant last week that, in addition to helping us cover our final expenses, gives us a vote of confidence that our work holds promise for the city’s future.

  • Thanks, too, to Jacinta White of the Word project, the Greensboro Public Library, and all the participants in Saturday’s “Poetry, Truth and Reconciliation” workshop. It was an enlightening and enjoyable experience, and we appreciated being part of PoetryGSO.
  • Volunteer of the Week: Matt Shelton, a recent Guilford College graduate and faithful truth and reconciliation supporter who has been part of our statement-transcribing team. Thanks, Matt!
  • This week’s progress indicator: The Greensboro Men’s Club, an organization with a long and influential history in the city, has agreed to become a GTRC Report Receiver.

Latest news coverage:
Ed Cone column, News & Record, April 23, 2006
News & Record editorial, April 20, 2006
News & Record related coverage, April 20, 2006

Our upcoming events:
GTRC Report Receivers Gathering, 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 4, Tuscana Cuisine, 709 E. Market St. Meeting to discuss what it means to be a report receiver, including plans for the report release ceremony. To become a Receiver, contact our volunteer coordinator, Samantha Hargrove, at
samhargrove@hotmail.com or 336-988-2019.

GTRC Report Release Ceremony, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25, 2006, Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel, Bennett College for Women, 900 E. Washington St.

UBUNTU – “I am what I am because of who we all are.” For a more complete definition, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu

Monday, April 24, 2006

GTRC Volunteer Reflections

The following are reflections of Ashely Gravely, a Commission volunteer and Bennett College junior:

Interning here at the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission opened my eyes to a side of Greensboro that I never could have imagined. While working on special projects such as transcription and scrap booking, I was able to see up close and personal why the individuals here worked tirelessly for the truth, reconciliation, and healing of Greensboro, NC and November 3, 1979. The scrap booking of news articles based on race, labor, and police were particularly interesting; you never notice how many articles can be published everyday about these subjects. Having the opportunity to work on this project has been an asset to my fields of study, Political Science and Mass Communications. Also having my school, Bennett College for Women, named as the site for which this valuable information will be placed is a great honor. I know that Sandra N. Smith and others would be proud of our hard work!

Thanks, Ashely, for all of your hard work and for sharing your thoughts.

posted by Jill Williams, exec. dir.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Ubuntu Weekly #60

Some of us are looking forward to this Saturday’s Poetry GSO workshop (details below) as a chance to heal a little from the trauma of November 3, 1979, and its aftermath.

  • Please join us at the workshop, which we believe holds promise for personal and community breakthroughs. To RSVP or ask questions, e-mail joya@greensborotrc.org or call 275-5953.
  • While we remain focused on completing our fundraising, recruiting GTRC Report Receivers and planning our Report Release Ceremony, Commissioners – in yet another daylong meeting and daily via e-mail – are hanging with the painstaking work of discerning their collective “truth.”
  • Volunteer of the Week: Eric Whitaker, a recent history graduate of N.C. A&T State University who is connecting with student groups to create a campus pool of Receivers who will use our report for future social justice learning and work. Thanks, Eric!
  • This week’s progress indicator: National groups also are agreeing to be GTRC Report Receivers. So far we have agreement forms from the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation and the Andrus Family Fund, our largest funder.
Latest news coverage:
Elizabeth Wheaton guest column, News & Record, Sunday, April 16, 2006
Ed Cone blog coverage, Sunday, April 16, 2006
Yes! Weekly coverage, Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Yes! Weekly mention, Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Carolina Peacemaker coverage, Thursday, March 30, 2006

Our upcoming events:
(THIS WEEK!) “Poetry, Truth and Reconciliation,” 2-5 p.m. Saturday, April 22, Nussbaum Room, Central Library, 219 N. Church St. Workshop co-sponsored with the
Greensboro Public Library as part of Poetry GSO, led by Jacinta White of the Word project, who will present techniques for using poetry as a means of community healing. For info or to RSVP, e-mail joya@greensborotrc.org.

GTRC Report Receivers Gathering, 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 4, Tuscana Cuisine, 709 E. Market St. Meeting to discuss what it means to be a report receiver, including plans for the report release ceremony. To become a Receiver, contact our volunteer coordinator, Samantha Hargrove, at
samhargrove@hotmail.com or 336-988-2019.

GTRC Report Release Ceremony, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25, 2006, Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel,
Bennett College for Women, 900 E. Washington St.

UBUNTU – “I am what I am because of who we all are.” For a more complete definition, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu

Thursday, April 13, 2006

GTRC Report Release Ceremony

Please join with the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission for its Report Release Ceremony.

At this event, the Commission will issue a report to the residents of Greensboro, to the City, to the Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project, and to other public bodies. The report will include findings about the context, causes, sequence and consequences of the events of November 3, 1979, as well as recommendations for how the community and its institutions can work towards reconciliation and restorative justice.

Event Specifics:
Thursday, May 25, 2006

6pm
Bennett College

Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel
900 E. Washington St.

Free Parking

Following the ceremony, a reception will be held in Steele Hall.


Those attending the ceremony will be the first to receive the report (at no charge).

If you can't make the ceremony, check out our website for the report which will be posted shortly after the ceremony.

posted by: Jill Williams, exec. dir.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Ubuntu Weekly #59

Forty-four days before its release, the report is drafted, much has been redrafted and we’ve had to add a daylong meeting to the schedule for hashing out more details. The heat is on!

  • We offer thanks this week to our friends at New Garden Friends Meeting for once again providing a comfortable room and warm hospitality for a two-day retreat we had last week.
  • Volunteer of the Week: Wanda Mobley, executive assistant to the vice president for institutional advancement at Bennett College for Women, who’s lending her invaluable expertise, assistance and resources to the planning committee for our Report Release Ceremony on May 25 (details below). Thanks, Wanda!
  • This week’s progress indicator: More than a hundred community groups have been approached about becoming GTRC Report Receivers. The diverse organizations that have agreed so far include the Greensboro Public Library and Muhammad Mosque No. 92.

Latest news coverage:
Ed Whitfield Counterpoint column, News & Record, Wednesday, April 12, 2006
Jim Capo blog commentary, Sunday, April 9, 2006
Ed Cone blog coverage, April 9, 2006
Off the Record blog coverage, Saturday, April 8, 2006
Thinking Out Loud blog coverage, Saturday, April 8, 2006

Our upcoming events:
“Poetry, Truth and Reconciliation,” 2-5 p.m. Saturday, April 22, Nussbaum Room, Central Library, 219 N. Church St. Workshop co-sponsored with the
Greensboro Public Library as part of Poetry GSO, led by Jacinta White of the Word project, who will present techniques for using poetry as a means of community healing. For info or to RSVP, e-mail joya@greensborotrc.org.

GTRC Report Receivers Gathering, 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 4, Tuscana Cuisine, 709 E. Market St. Meeting to discuss what it means to be a report receiver, including plans for the report release ceremony. To become a Receiver, contact our volunteer coordinator, Samantha Hargrove, at
samhargrove@hotmail.com or 336-988-2019.

GTRC Report Release Ceremony, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25, 2006, Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel,
Bennett College for Women, 900 E. Washington St.

UBUNTU – “I am what I am because of who we all are.” For a more complete definition, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu

Monday, April 10, 2006

Citizen's Response Panel Hearing Transcript

Click here to read the transcript from the Citizen's Response Panel Discussion at the Commission's second public hearing.

Leah Wise, Larry Morse, PhD, and Michael Curtis all spoke on a "citizen's Response Panel" about the community response to the events of November 3, 1979. Wise is a lead organizer of the National Anti-Klan Network, a coalition made up of civil rights and church organizations formed in response to November 3, 1979. She was also a director of the Durham Based Southest Regional Economic Justice Network and later formed the North Carolinians Against Religious and Racist Violence. Morse is an economics professor at NCA&T State University. He was out of town on November 3, 1979, but was friends with initiators of the march. He was also a member of the Citizens for Justice and Unity and was a co-chair of the march and vigil in the early 1980s against Klan demonstrations. Curtis is the Judge Donald Smith Professor of Constitutional Law and Legal and Constitutional History at Wake Forest School of Law. He was also on the Human Relations Citizens Review Commission after November 3, 1979.

Special thanks to commission volunteer, Matt Shelton, for transcribing this statement.

posted by Jill Williams, exec. dir.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Ubuntu Weekly #58

One by one the chapters of our final report are coming together, thanks to the work of staff, volunteers and consultants. We’re looking forward to presenting a collective memory to replace the divergent understandings that help keep us divided.
  • We know it’s not the most convenient time but we do hope you’ll plan to join us at our report release ceremony May 25 (details below), where we’ll democratically deliver our report to the entire community in one fell swoop. Be there to get it firsthand and interpret it for yourself.
  • Speaking of interpreting, we’re looking forward to some creative new interpretations and ideas to come out of our poetry workshop April 22 (details below). Planning to join us? We’d love it if you’d RSVP. E-mail joya@greensborotrc.org.
  • Volunteer of the Week: Rev. Carole Howard, a grassroots Greensboro-based minister, teacher and artist who is lending her gifts, connections and experience to our campaign to recruit GTRC Report Receivers. Thanks, Carole!
  • This week’s progress indicator: Between the Commission and the Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project, we’re averaging one-two engagements a week with classes and other groups interested in our experience, in general or with specific topics such as truth, reconciliation, justice, forgiveness or history. If you’d like someone to speak to your group, e-mail info@greensborotrc.org.
Latest news coverage:
John Young guest column, News & Record, Sunday, April 2, 2006
Ed Cone blog coverage, Sunday, April 2, 2006
Related Chosen Fast blog coverage, Thursday, March 30, 2006

Our upcoming events:

“Poetry, Truth and Reconciliation,” 2-5 p.m. Saturday, April 22, Nussbaum Room, Central Library, 219 N. Church St. Workshop co-sponsored with the Greensboro Public Library as part of Poetry GSO, led by Jacinta White of the Word project, who will present techniques for using poetry as a means of community healing. For info or to RSVP, e-mail joya@greensborotrc.org.

GTRC Report Receivers Gathering, 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 4, Tuscana Cuisine, 709 E. Market St. Meeting to discuss what it means to be a report receiver, including plans for the report release ceremony. For more info, contact our volunteer Receivers coordinator, Samantha Hargrove, at samhargrove@hotmail.com or 336-988-2019.

GTRC Report Release Ceremony, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25, 2006, Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel,
Bennett College for Women, 900 E. Washington St.

UBUNTU – “I am what I am because of who we all are.” For a more complete definition, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu

Monday, April 03, 2006

Marty Nathan's Public Hearing Statement Transcript

Click here to read the transcript of Dr. Martha Nathan's statement at the GTRC's third public hearing.

Martha Nathan is the widow of Dr. Michael Nathan, one of the five people killed on Nov. 3rd and executive director of the Greensboro Justice Fund, which supports Southern grassroots work fighting racist, religious and homophobic violence. A physician in Northampton, Mass., she is a graduate of Brown University and Duke University Medical School.

Thanks to volunteers Ashely Gravely, Bennett College student, and Sue Keith for transcribing this statement.

posted by Jill Williams, exec. dir.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ubuntu Weekly #57

With the date set, we’re now planning the details of our closing ceremony on May 25 – 58 days from today – at the same time that we continue working to complete our report in time.
  • Community reconciliation in Greensboro is going to require a lot of work by a lot of groups, which we’re now beginning to identify. All groups interested in standing for truth and reconciliation by becoming GTRC Report Receivers can click here for the invitation and agreement form. For more information, contact our volunteer Receivers coordinator, Samantha Hargrove, at samhargrove@hotmail.com or 336-988-2019.
  • Volunteer of the Week: Steve Swanson, a legal scholar who worked through the International Center for Transitional Justice to complete a fact memo for our final report on First Amendment questions inherent in our work. Thanks, Steve!
  • This week’s progress indicator: So far, nine colleges and universities have expressed interest in purchasing our public hearings DVDs as a research and teaching tool. Click here for more information on how to order this collection.

Latest news coverage:
UNCG Carolinian mention, Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Mississippi Public Broadcasting coverage, Wednesday, March 22, 2006
Poverty & Race newsletter coverage, January/February 2006

Our upcoming events:
“Poetry, Truth and Reconciliation,” 2-5 p.m. Saturday, April 22, Nussbaum Room, Central Library, 219 N. Church St. Workshop co-sponsored with the
Greensboro Public Library as part of Poetry GSO, led by Jacinta White of the Word project, who will present techniques for using poetry as a means of community healing. For info, e-mail info@greensborotrc.org.

GTRC Report Receivers Gathering, 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 4, Tuscana Cuisine, 709 E. Market St. Meeting to begin making plans for continuing community reconciliation work. For more info, contact our volunteer Receivers coordinator, Samantha Hargrove, at samhargrove@hotmail.com or 336-988-2019.

GTRC Closing Ceremony, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25, 2006, Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel,
Bennett College for Women, 900 E. Washington St.

UBUNTU – “I am what I am because of who we all are.” For a more complete definition, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu

Deffense Attorneys' Public Hearing Statement Transcript

Click here to read the transcript from the public hearing statements of Bob Cahoon, Hal Greeson and Percy Wall.

Mr. Cahoon, Mr. Greeson and Mr. Wall were publicly appointed defense attorneys for Roland Wayne Wood, Coleman (Johnny) Pridmore, and David Mathews, respectively, in the 1980 state murder trial.

Thanks to Sarah Marshall and Kristi Parker for volunteering to transcribe this statement.

posted by Jill Williams, exec. dir.

Joyce Johnson's Public Hearing Statement Transcript

Click here to read the transcript of Joyce Johnson's statement at the Commission's third public hearing.

Joyce Johnson is the director of the Jubilee Institute of Greensboro's Beloved Community Center and wife of the Rev. Nelson Johnson since 1969. A mother, grandmother and activist, she has worked for black liberation in the United States and Africa, quality public education, economic justice and women's rights. She retired in 2000 after 27 years of service to NCA&T State University, where she was director of the Transportation Institute. A native of Richmond, VA, she graduated from Duke University in 1968.

Thanks to volunteers Melody Thomas and Sue Keith for transcribing this statement.

posted by Jill Williams, exec. dir.

Monday, March 27, 2006

GTRC Report Receiver Invitation


To: All Greensboro community, civic and religious organizations (and national organizations, too!)

From: The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Date: Spring 2006


At a ceremony June 12, 2004, witnessed by more than 500 people, the seven members of the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission – the first of its kind in the United States –accepted a mandate from the grassroots Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project to seek the truth and work for reconciliation around the five deaths of Nov. 3, 1979.

In the 21 months since then, with the help of a five-member staff, the Commission has examined the context, causes, sequence and consequences of an event that traumatized the city. We held three public hearings and a community dialogue that highlighted the many different perspectives that exist about the shootings and their aftermath.

At a report release ceremony on Thursday, May 25, we will deliver our final report, which will include recommendations for concrete community healing and restorative justice and mark the official end of our work. Our mandate directs us to deliver our report to the residents of Greensboro, the city, the Project (which launched the democratic process that created the Commission), and “other public bodies.”

We now invite you, as a representative of a local organization working for the good of Greensboro, to make your organization one of those other public bodies by becoming an official GTRC Report Receiver, acknowledging that truth and reconciliation are worthy goals and that the Commission has taken its mandate seriously. Specifically, without agreeing in advance with any of our findings, GTRC Report Receivers agree to do the following:

· Send a representative from the organization to symbolically receive the Commission’s final report at our report release ceremony, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25, in the Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel at Bennett College for Women, 900 E. Washington St.;
· Read the report or the executive summary as a group, then engage in an open and honest dialogue about our findings;
· (Local organizations only) Send a representative to a community-wide gathering of GTRC Report Receivers at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 4, 2006, at Tuscana Cuisine, 709 E. Market St.
· Assess the report’s findings and recommendations, then work to help implement any of the recommendations we agree will further the cause of community reconciliation and healing.

Once our report is delivered, the Commission will no longer exist. It will then be the responsibility of our community to use what we’ve learned through this process to ensure the long-lasting results envisioned in the Project’s Declaration of Intent, which calls for six to 12 months of dialogue based on our impartial report.


Will you stand with us? The more groups that choose to take ownership of this pioneering effort, the stronger it will be. If you have questions, a GTRC representative can come speak with your group to answer them. Thank you in advance for completing and returning the form by mail, personal delivery, fax or e-mail, using the contact information below.

122 N. Elm St., Suite 505, Greensboro, NC 27401 ● Phone: 336-275-6462 ● Fax: 336-275-6227 ●
info@greensborotrc.org

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Tammy Tutt's Public Hearing Transcript

Click here to read the transcript of Tammy Tutt's statement at the Commission's third public hearing.

Tammy Tutt is a Greensboro resident who was living in Morningside Homes, the Greensboro community where the shootings happened on November 3, 1979. She was borned and raised in public housing and now is active in the community.

Thanks to Neubia Williams for help with transcribing this statement.

posted by Jill Williams, exec. dir.

Public Hearing Statements of Drs. Millicent Brown and Michael Roberto

Click here to read the transcript of statements of Dr. Millicent Brown and Dr. Michael Roberto at the Commission's third public hearing.

Dr. Millicent Brown is an assistant professor in the history department at N.C. A&T State University. Her introduction into issues of segregation and educational equity began with her role as a child in Millicent Brown vs. School Board District 20, City of Charleston, SC, which was South Carolina’s first desegregation case in 1963. Dr. Brown grew up in an activist household as the daughter of a NAACP official who was president at both local and state levels and who has active since the 60s in civil rights work , especially focusing on police brutality and educational equity.

Dr. Michael Roberto is also an assistant professor in the history department of N.C. A&T State University and a resident of Greensboro for more than 25 years working as a journalist part of that time working with the Carolina Peacemaker and the News & Record. A contemporary world historian, his primary teaching fields also include world history and the history of socialism. He has his B.A. degree from Adelphi University, his Masters from the University of Rhode Island and a Ph.D. from Boston College.


Special thanks to our volunteers - Kristi Parker and Neubia Williams - for transcribing these statements.

posted by Jill Williams, exec. dir.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Ubuntu Weekly #56

We’re thankful this week to Bennett College for Women, which will house our archives, for agreeing to host the May 25th ceremony at which we’ll deliver our final report to the community (details below). Please mark your calendars and plan to join us.

  • Thanks, too, to the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation and Southern Truth and Reconciliation for organizing “Southern Exposure: A Regional Summit on Racial Violence and Reconciliation,” an educational and inspiring Mississippi conference that brought Commission staff members together with others seeking truth and working for reconciliation around tragic events throughout the South.
  • On the way to Mississippi, Commission staff members, along with GTCRP Local Task Force Representatives, led a workshop for Davidson College student leaders on “Leading in the Face of Resistance.” Young people will have to carry this work forward, so we always appreciate opportunities to share our work with them.
  • Volunteer of the Week: Samantha Hargrove, the community organizer who has agreed to coordinate our recruiting effort for GTRC Report Receivers. Thanks, Samantha!
  • This week’s progress indicator: Representatives from15 organizations working for racial reconciliation across the South learned about and offered insight and encouragement to the GTRC at last weekend’s conference.

Latest news coverage:
Ed Cone blog coverage, Monday, March 20, 2006
Lorraine Ahearn column mention, News & Record, Sunday, March 19, 2006

Our upcoming events:
“Poetry, Truth and Reconciliation,” 2-5 p.m. Saturday, April 22, Nussbaum Room, Central Library, 219 N. Church St. Workshop co-sponsored with the
Greensboro Public Library as part of Poetry GSO, led by Jacinta White of the Word project, who will present techniques for using poetry as a means of community healing. For info, e-mail info@greensborotrc.org.

GTRC Closing Ceremony, 6 p.m. Thursday, May 25, 2006, Annie Merner Pfeiffer Chapel,
Bennett College for Women, 900 E. Washington St.

UBUNTU – “I am what I am because of who we all are.” For a more complete definition, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

GTRC Public Hearing DVDs

If you didn't make it to the Commission's public hearings, or if you did and want to remember what was said, click here for more information on ordering the DVD footage of these events.

posted by Jill Williams, exec. dir.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ubuntu Weekly #55

As our research team works furiously to find all the facts for the truth portion of our work, we’re looking to the larger community to help carry out the reconciliation part when we’re gone. Will you be there?
  • Legal questions surrounding the First Amendment, self-defense, and other issues were the focus at our last Commission meeting. We were grateful for the expertise of NCCU Law Professor Irv Joyner, his student assistant Angelica Reza Wind, and Lisa Magarrell of the International Center for Transitional Justice.
  • A collection of DVDs from our three public hearings is now available for sale, with proceeds going toward our remaining fundraising needs. Click here to order (and encourage other individuals and organizations to do the same).
  • Volunteer of the Week: Dr. Bill Gentry, a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Creative Leadership, who analyzed all evaluations from our public hearings and other events. Thanks, Bill!
  • This week’s progress indicator: We’ve set the evening for our report sharing ceremony: Thursday, May 25, 2006. Stay tuned for more details!

Latest news coverage:
Yes! Weekly coverage, March 14, 2006

Our upcoming events:
“Poetry, Truth and Reconciliation,” 2-5 p.m. Saturday, April 22, Nussbaum Room, Central Library, 219 N. Church St. Workshop co-sponsored with the
Greensboro Public Library as part of Poetry GSO, led by Jacinta White of the Word project, who will present techniques for using poetry as a means of community healing. For info, e-mail info@greensborotrc.org.

UBUNTU – “I am what I am because of who we all are.” For a more complete definition, visit
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Ubuntu Weekly #54

Is there hope that the United States can transcend its past and build loving, just and sustainable communities, or is reconciliation just a pipe dream? We’re believers, and we believe our work will make a valuable contribution to the enormous body of work, near and far, toward this end.

  • We send thanks this week to some fellow contributors, including the Rev. Michael Battle, author of books including “Reconciliation: The Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu,” the Rev. Julie Peeples, pastor of Congregational United Church of Christ, and Dr. Bennett Ramsey, associate professor of Religious Studies at UNCG, who joined Commissioners on Monday to talk about reconciliation from a religious perspective.
  • Hitting it from another angle, we’re grateful to the Greensboro Public Library for helping us explore the power of poetry as part of Poetry GSO, a community-wide celebration of National Poetry Month, April 1-30. We’re co-sponsoring the workshop “Poetry, Truth and Reconciliation” on April 22. More details are below.
  • The newest member of our Commission work team is Jennifer McHugh. We’re glad to have her sorely needed research assistance, her experience with community reconciliation initiatives and the International Center for Transitional Justice, and her spirit. Welcome, Jen!
  • Volunteers of the Week: Jim Keith, John Young and Bishop Chip Marble, three friends and supporters of this process who helped organize our meeting with Rev. Battle. Thanks, Jim! Thanks, John! Thanks, Chip!
  • This week’s progress indicator: Thanks to a $1,200 mini-grant from the N.C. Humanities Council (Thanks, N.C. Humanities Council!), our fundraising total now stands at $425,109.48, $68,800 short of the total we need to complete our work and produce the high-quality final products we envision.

Latest news coverage:
Blue Plate Special Story Mention, Tuesday, March 7, 2006
Allen Johnson column mention, News & Record, Sunday, March 5, 2006

Our upcoming events:
“Poetry, Truth and Reconciliation,” 2-5 p.m. Saturday, April 22, Nussbaum Room, Central Library, 219 N. Church St. Workshop co-sponsored with the
Greensboro Public Library as part of Poetry GSO, led by Jacinta White of the Word project, who will present techniques for using poetry as a means of community healing. For info, e-mail steve.sumerford@ci.greensboro.nc.us.

UBUNTU – “I am what I am because of who we all are.” For a more complete definition, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ubuntu

Monday, March 06, 2006

GTRC Receives Two New Grants

Thanks to the Julian Price Family Foundation for making a recent donation of $2,000 to support the GTRC's work.

We also just received word that the GTRC has been awarded a North Carolina Humanities Council mini-grant of $1200 to cover a portion of the interactive timelines in the multimedia version of our report. Here is a portion of our grant proposal describing these timelines:


Our primary goal is that through the Commission’s final report, in general, and an interactive timeline, in particular, we will be able to present the facts and information about the context, causes, sequence and consequence of November 3, 1979, so that community members can begin to examine how their own experiences shape their worldviews and how the Greensboro community can learn from this tragedy. As the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the United States, our secondary goal is to empower other communities to examine their own pasts through similar models. In order to accomplish these goals, we plan to create two interactive timelines that will serve to organize copious amounts of information about the historical context of the events of November 3, 1979, and the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation process in a way that will be accessible to Greensboro community members and also to interested parties on a
national and international level. Both timelines will be available on a DVD and also on a website, which will be available to the public at the end of the Commission's mandate (spring 2006).

The first interactive timeline will identify the events surrounding November 3, 1979, (1960s through 1985) that the Commission finds to be immediately relevant to understanding the shootings. Each of these event entries will include ways to access all relevant newspaper articles, radio and television reports, video footage and/or other documentary evidence. With this information, community members will be equipped to have more thoughtful and fact-based conversations about the tragedy of November 3, 1979. Even those community members who disagree with the Commission’s findings and recommendations will be better equipped to discuss the events.

The second interactive timeline will trace the development of the truth and
reconciliation process in Greensboro. This will span from 1999 when community members first discussed the potential of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to 2006 when the Commission’s final report is released to the community. This timeline will primarily be helpful to other communities in the United States and beyond who are considering their own truth and reconciliation processes. Because of the support of volunteers, the entire process has been documented through video quite thoroughly. In addition to the rich video footage of events like the Swearing-In Ceremony and several meetings with Archbishop Desmond Tutu, this timeline would include many newspaper articles, radio and television news stories and other media for documenting this process.


Special thanks to humanities scholars Millicent Brown and Steve Flynn for being consultants in this project. Millicent is a nationally renowned US civil rights historian at NCA&TSU and Steve is a doctoral student in cultural studies at UNCG.

For an updated list of the GTRC's current funding sources, click here.

posted by Jill Williams, exec. dir.