Monday, January 30, 2006

Archbishop Tutu speaks on NPR about GTRC

Yesterday, "All Things Considered" aired an interview between Debbie Elliott and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Listen to the recording here.

Here is a highlight from the interview that includes his mention of Greensboro's TRC:

Tutu: I think that the US probably needs to go through the process of healing through our truth and reconciliation commission process.

Elliott: Why?

Tutu: Because this country has not really faced up to the legacy of slavery or of the dispossession of Native Americans. But there is a pain which is sitting in the pit of the tummy of virtually every African American and every Native American. It is a pain that needs to be brought to the surface, articulated. Articulated in a thing like a truth and reconciliation commission type, where you have a safe space and people can say whatever it is that bothers them knowing that they are not going to be shouted down.

Elliott: You know when you talk about that process, I covered several of the old civil rights trials in this country. And there are always people right before those trials start who say, “Why are we doing this. This is just bringing up old animosities; this is just making things worse.”

Tutu: People almost always will say that. Don’t bring up the past. Let bygones be bygones. Unfortunately, they don’t get to be bygones. They have an incredible capacity to return and haunt us. Now you know what? There is in fact a city in your country that has decided it was going to have a truth and reconciliation commission. Greensboro. There was an incident in 1979 when a number of people were killed because there was a protest against a Ku Klux Klan march. And some of the people came to testify and one of the people who came and with whom I spoke was a white woman whose husband was killed. And I asked her, “How did you feel after you testified?” She said something that we found happened at home. She said, “Well it was cathartic. I came and I told my story and I’ve probably told this story many times, but to have told it in this particular setting just did something for me.” I’m not aware actually of too many people who are hungry for revenge. Most people would like acknowledgement and the aim of telling your story is that you are acknowledged and if the perpetrator takes responsibility it goes a very long way in the healing process.

(Also included in this post are pictures from the GTRC's meeting on November 2, 2005, with the Archbishop.)

posted by Jill Williams, exec. dir.


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