Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What is Success?

The summer interns met with TRC communications director, Joya Wesley, today to hear about how she arrived in her job with the TRC and her reflections on it. Anyone who knows Joya will not be surprised to hear that she talked a little bit about her father, Fred Wesley (who, incidentally, recorded the "TRC Talk" television show theme music last week) and about jazz.

She also challenged the summer interns to reflect on their own definitions of success, which Wesley defines as "the full utilization of your gifts and experience." Conversations about success inevitably led to a conversation about what success means for this Truth and Reconciliation process and within the group we heard opinions that the TRC would be successful if...
  • "we hang with it until the end...we've already learned a great deal and I've got hope that the rest of the community will learn more before this is over, too."
  • "more people have had a chance both to speak their own personal truths and genuinely listen to those of others who may or may not agree."
  • "a variety of different people will get involved in the process."
  • "we can empower more people to take on grassroots efforts to affect change in their own communities."
  • "we can challenge people to look at the humanity of all involved in the November 3, 1979, tragedy."
  • "we can create a model for other communities who are contemplating a TRC to reconcile themselves with past tragedies."
  • "we can show the international community that groups in the US can learn from efforts in other countries instead of always exporting our own ideas and values."

These opinions do not represent a consensus of the Commission's goals. There was general agreement in the group, however, about the fear we all share that the Commission's final report will be disappointing to Greensboro community members who hold great hope that the TRC will solve many different problems in the community.

Because of this concern, I hope community members will start thinking about exactly what they think success means for this process. Anyone should feel free to share their responses with the Commission either here or by giving a statement.

posted by Jill Williams, Exec. Dir.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The goals of the Commission (GTRC) will probably turn out to be more modest than many of us were anticipating. However it unfolds, the goals and the final report must be fair and objective to have real benefit for the entire Greensboro community. It appears that far too many in the community are remaining silent and have decided not to participate sufficiently in this important process and the Commission may be stuck with an overload from the survivors of Nov. 3rd who have never been bashful in expressing their views. Just look at how the original Project (GTCRP) continues to sponsor events aimed at presenting only the survivors' story.

The third trial was run by the very reasonable and fair U.S. District Judge Robert R. Mehrige. The court ordered $341,500.00 to be paid for the wrongful death of Mike Nathan by Greensboro Police Event Commander Paul Spoon, Detective Jerry Cooper and his informant Ed Dawson; Klansman/Nazis Mark Sherer, David Matthews, Jerry Smith, Wayne Wood and Jack Fowler. Also some small amount of money was awarded to Bermanzhon and Clark.

The jury award was based partially on the fact that Nathan, Bermanzohn and Clark brought no weapons to the march, fired no weapons and were not directly involved in the stick fighting that preceded the shootings. Maybe the most important fact was that Nathan was not a member of the CWP and had openly expressed concerns about the potential for violence at the Nov. 3rd march. The jury saw his death to have some unique circumstances.

This third jury's finding, no matter how imperfect, may be as fair of verdict as was humanly possible because of the complexity of the case and the mutual responsibly of all involved on Nov. 3rd.

The jury really found that the Greensboro Police, the Klan/Nazis and the WVO/CWP organizers of Nov. 3rd were all responsible for the violence that terrified the residence of Morningside Homes on Nov. 3rd. and left five people, participating in a legally permitted march, dead in streets of Greensboro.

So maybe one of the primary goals of the Commission will be to help the community better understand the conclusions of the third trial and the jury's view of the joint responsibility for the horror of Nov. 3rd. So far the Greensboro Police Department, the Klan/Nazis and the march organizers have continued to deny responsibility for Nov. 3rd. Reconciliation can only really begin once they accept their responsibility and stop their 25 years of denial. The CWP's grand conspiracy theory surrounding Nov. 3rd needs to be forever laid to rest by the Commission. However, the survivors will probably take their conspiracy theory with them to the grave unless the Commission can work some real magic and get all the parties involved to understand each others humanity and tragic mistakes.

3:17 PM  

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