Saturday, May 20, 2006


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 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 (, 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 (

The International Center for Transitional Justice (, 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).
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Blogger Cara Michele said...

In this post, it says that free copies of the executive summary will be available at the Bennett College event. The post goes on to say that the "report itself will be released to the public and posted online... the evening of May 25." In a previous post, you state that "at our report release ceremony May 25... 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," which sounds as if folks will receive a full copy of the report. Could you please clarify how, and in what form, the report is being released to the public? Will members of the public be given, or be able to access, copies of the full report on May 25th? Thank you.

1:29 PM  
Anonymous Jill Williams said...

Thanks for your question, Cara Michele. You are right to pick up on the discrepancy in our wording. Due to the enormity of this report-writing task, our report is not yet ready to send to the printer. Therefore, we know that we will have executive summaries available for everyone at Thursday's ceremony. Our plan is also to have our full report (even if it is in an unedited and undesigned version) available online on Thursday evening. We hope to have copies of the full report (in CD and hard copy formats) available to everyone on Thursday, but can't promise that they will be ready at that time. If they are not, full copies (in both formats) will be avaiable at no charge to the public at all public library branches shortly after May 25th. Please know that staff are working around the clock to get this report completed so that it can be distributed on Thursday. Thanks for the opportunity to explain our challenge. Hope you can make it on Thursday.

2:04 PM  
Blogger Cara Michele said...

Thanks for the info, Jill. I'll be praying for you, Joya and all the GTRC staff as you work to get the report ready. It sounds like you have your hands full, but I know they're very capable hands. :)


11:07 PM  
Anonymous jill williams said...

Thanks for your prayers and vote of confidence, Michele. We need both right now.

11:12 PM  
Blogger Troublemaker Staff said...

Jill...why didnt u have that in the first place..that long explanation...u knew it was tricky wording...why not just say...hey...we might not have reports...instead of trying to slide it by the reader....makes me wonder what else u will try and slide by...but...u know...dont answer me...i dont matter...r y'all gonna be wearing those bluse shirts again at the ceremony?

6:53 PM  
Anonymous jill said...

We weren't trying to slide anything by the reader. We were simply trying to hold out hope -- still are -- that the report will be finished by Thursday at 6pm. But we also didn't want to promise anything we didn't think we could deliver.

If I blogged more or better, this would have been a good topic to have discussed here in a proactive way. It didn't seem right for a press release (which is what this post was originally).

We haven't yet finished the report or decided on our wardrobes for the ceremony.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Troublemaker Staff said...

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.

u already said that...u already made a promise u didnt know if u could keep...

But we also didn't want to promise anything we didn't think we could deliver

u already be honest and transparent...u would have said...we thought we would have reports..but we may your press release...but that wouldnt look good...looks are a very big part of your gtrc process

11:44 AM  
Blogger Troublemaker Staff said...

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

another example of a promise u knew u couldnt keep...but it wasnt clarified....just covered up in your press release...if this little stuff is what the gtrc finds uncomfy revealing...I wonder what else is hidden? r u for candid conversation...different views...and reconcilliation??? in the same org didnt u totally forgot virgil griffin....after u got him on your stage and poked fun at him...which was my humble opinion...I did that too....I played w Virgil...but i did it to his face...and knew how he should be at the end of your great gtrc session ...not just the beginning..u also have covered more ass about the procedure of the report recipients invitations. Your response to me in this thread would have been much better left off like the rest of them.

We were simply trying to hold out hope -- still are -- that the report will be finished by Thursday at 6pm. But we also didn't want to promise anything we didn't think we could deliver.
should have been in the press release....u did try to hide or slide a very simple aspect...reports may not be available...but nelson will still sing...that would have been more like your mandate..i know it is a lil tiny thing...and i can hear the foot steps of your protectors coming as I finish...But we also didn't want to promise anything we didn't think we could deliver....u already have done that...and instead of opening that up...making that known in the press offer a sneaky next best thing....whether u admit it or not...u know what i mean...that hidden agenda police review board/major leftist org's/ pressured police dept and blood thirsty project homestead survivors along w a staggering council and flirtatious media...makes the atmosphere really pretty...for hidden agendas.... One of which..and the most important one...will be a police review board...which is a good idea..if it is done right..Your last posts and comments show a great deal of mixed words and cover ups...does it stop there? or s that just the tip of the ice berg......

12:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also for the record, Ben Holder has volunteered for the Commission and has contributed significantly to its research. We are grateful for the work he has done to engage police officers and Klansmen in this process. Without him, police officers Rick Ball and Mike Toomes would not have spoken at our second hearing. He also played a role in getting Virgil Griffin to speak at the first hearing. Additionally, he has worked to try to engage other police officers and has helped with other research, such as researching some of the newspaper articles printed immediately after the shootings. His coverage of the process through his blog and, previously, at the Carolina Peacemaker, has also served to keep the Commission and the public aware of Commission-related news not reported anywhere else, such as when members of the special intelligence division had a meeting with the staff at Mt. Zion Baptist Church about the community dialogue, but didn’t invite Commission staff. This list is not meant to cover everything he did for the Commission, but instead to acknowledge the important role Ben has played in this process. Ben was able to make these contributions because of his knowledge of Greensboro, his extensive contacts, and, most importantly, his ability to recognize and analyze injustices and work towards correcting them in many cases. The Commission, collectively, and I, personally, have learned a great deal from Ben Holder and sincerely appreciate his contributions.

on the other hand GTRC says this about Ben Holder

1. You (and frequently on other occasions) publicly expressed your rage and disgust for the GTRC and our work and announced to us and the world that you wanted no association with the GTRC
2. You have an unhealthy and abusive obsession with a staff member, which is disruptive to this office, even without your physical presence
3. I believe you are emotionally unstable and in need of medical care but are obviously unwilling to seek it and choose to emotionally abuse those around you instead.

where is the truth? where is the reconcilliation?

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ben, why did you post that anonymously, and why didn't you make clear you were quoting things from somewhere else? Were you trying to impersonate a Commissioner?

Where's the truth, indeed.

10:27 PM  

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