Thursday, February 02, 2006

Will Campbell's Reflections on the GTRC

Will Campbell, author of Brother to a Dragonfly and at least twelve other books, is a well known preacher, writer and speaker who has been committed to racial justice and human rights for most of his life. In the aftermath of November 3, 1979, Campbell came to Greensboro to try to visit "some of the jailed folk after the killings." Knowing this, Eileen Curry, a Greensboro resident and GTCRP Local Task Force member, wrote to Campbell, a family friend, asking for any thoughts or information he could share with the Commission. Here is the letter she received in response, dated December 30, 2005:

Dear Eileen,
I apologize for the long delay in answering your letter of October last. My excuse is certainly not lack of interest in the important task the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission has undertaken. I have followed the formation and actions of the Commission from afar and am convinced that it is bearing and will continue to bear important fruit . . .

I have no suggestions that strike me as something not already covered. I confess I was troubled by the twice-used statement: "The Klan and Nazi group members who were filmed shooting them were twice aquited [sic] by jury trial." I see more judgement than reconciliation there. I have been criticized in the past for what some have seen as my defending these groups. I do not defend any kind of racism nor any kind of violence. I do continue to believe that hte greatest form of racism, classism and violence is not a covey of largely poor, largely uneducated folk marching around a burning cross in a Carolina cow pasture but the powers that be, lying, misleading and instigating slaughter of the innocent abroad, starving
the poor at home, all in the name of freedom.

All I am suggesting is that the Commission has not been formed to pass judgment on a few by calling them code words (Klan...Nazi) but to help us all to understand how and why these groups were formed in the first place. I.E., we were "ALL" guilty of the killings.

You were right. I did visit some of the jailed folk after the killings. Or, at least I tried to visit. As I recall I was never allowed to visit those in jail but did spend some time with some of their relatives. I recall a young wife who had no idea as to how to go about visiting her husband. And hte father I wrote about in COVENANT was based on a poor and by our standards ignorant farmer who couldn't understand how the country could send one of his boys to fight those alleged to be communist in Vietnam where he was killed instead, but put his other son in jail for perhaps, maybe killing someone right here at home who boasted that they were
Communist. I was hard pressed to dispute the father's grievance without resorting to a "I'm not guilty if I didn't pull the trigger" form of logic.

Well I commend you for your willingness to serve. It is the likes of you, and others on the Commimssion, that give me hope.

In the Faith (somewhere)

Will Campbell

This letter, along with all of the other sources of information being gathered by the GTRC, will be included in the Commission's archives at the end of this process.

posted by Jill Williams, exec. dir.


Anonymous John D. Young said...

Thanks for this post!

I have just recently heard about the unique qualities of Will Campbell. His insights about reconciliation and healing can be very helpful for the T&R process. Few have ministered effectively to all the poor in the South like Will Campbell.

His work with the deep pain of racism as well as his work with ministering to the Klan puts him on a path few have chosen.

11:35 AM  

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