Thursday, June 30, 2005

GTRC in an International Context

Our summer interns met yesterday with Lisa Magarrell, the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) consultant who has been working separately to advise the Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project and Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission for a few years. The ICTJ has also offered consulting services to TRCs and other transitional justice efforts in countries such as Sri Lanka, India, Philippines, Turkey, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Paraguay, Colombia, Chile, Sierra Leone, and Ghana.

After sharing about how she came into the work of transitional justice, Lisa asked the interns if they thought a transformation was going on in Greensboro. She asked if the transitional justice framework is even relevant in a community that has not just been through a civil war or emerged from a dictatorship. Some interns' reflections were as follows:

  • The transition started during the Civil Rights movement and never really was completed. The Greensboro case is interesting because of when it happened (1979) and because of all of the components--race, labor, communism, etc.
  • If the GTRC is using this framework of transitional justice, shouldn't it be looking at pre-1964 situations? (In response to this comment, Lisa Magarrell pointed out that no community should think about transition as a clear line marking pre and post transition time periods.)

One of our interns followed up this conversation by asking Lisa what she thought about the City Council's opposition of the truth and reconciliation process. In response, Lisa said:

"The Greensboro case has made me think differently about TRCs, which have previously all been sponsored by or initiated by government bodies...Government support can be helpful and constraining at the same time. Some people may be reluctant to speak to a government sponsored TRC. And some governments may use TRCs as a mouthpiece for whatever version of history they want to maintain. What some Greensboro City Council Members said was helpful--because this TRC grew out of a grassroots movement, it answers to the community and not the City Council. This shows your independence from governmental or other bodies of any kind."

posted by Jill Williams, Exec. Dir.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Phil Rumley said...

You must remember that Dave Burt, a friend of mine that lived in Glenwood, took delight in starting this fracas at China Grove, he wanted a War, he told me so.Also, the head Juror Mandalay expressed surprise we were not killing more Communist in this Country, I went to school with his son.No amount of revisionism can change the facts in the minds of this people, the events are fresh to us, the details intimate. Thank you! Phil Rumley

7:39 PM  
Blogger The GTRC said...

Phil,
Thanks for your comment. You clearly have some information that we'd like to hear from you, especially since you say the events and details are still so clear in your memory.

Please share more here and/or contact me at 336-275-6462 or jill@greensborotrc.org so that we can talk more. Thanks again for your post.

--Jill Williams, Exec. Dir.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There has never been any doubt that the WVO/CWP were thrilled by the direct conflict with the Klan/Nazis at China Grove and again on Nov. 3rd. They always wanted an intense confrontation that is all clear from the court testimony. Nelson Johnson was quoted by the press on Nov. 2nd urging the Greensboro police and Jim Melvin to stay away from the Nov. 3rd march because the WVO/CWP did not want the event to get watered down. They wanted an intense confrontation. They just never wanted or anticipated the extreme intensity and violence that caused the deaths of five people. They were expecting another Klan/Nazi back down like in China Grove or a major confrontation that would be halted at the last second by the Greensboro police. This information does not require any T&R testimony but is all a clear part of the historical record. I hope the T&R Commission has taken the necessary time to review all of the existing historical record.

10:09 PM  
Blogger The GTRC said...

Reviewing the historical record (in terms of the court transcripts, depositions, newspaper articles, news footage, other documents and personal interviews) is exactly what the Commission has been doing and will continue to do over the next several months. We hope our public hearing this weekend will encourage more people to come forward and share their own statements, too. Please continue sharing your thoughts here or by calling the office--275-6462.

-Jill

11:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a Southern out-of-towner looking in from the outside, I applaud Greensboro's courage in tackling such a sensitive issue. Your determination will pay dividends in the future.

Most other cities in the South would rather sweep past events under the rug and forget about them. But sometimes, you must acknowledge the past in order to move forward. It won't be pretty and cynics will continue to moan, but this will only make your community stronger.

10:55 AM  

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