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Event Details

  How to Mend a Massacre: Race, Class, Tragedy and Healing in Greensboro, NC,1979
  April 13, 2013 2:00 PM
  April 13, 2013 4:00 AM
Delancey Street Foundation
600 Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94107
Accessible by the Brannan St. stop on MUNI's T or N lines.

Join one of Whitman's most engaging faculty members as he recounts the events of the Greensboro Massacre and its after-effects that can still be felt today. Dr. Robert 'Bob' Withycombe, professor of rhetoric and film studies, came to Whitman College in 1980 to direct the speech and debate team. For 13 years he laid and strengthened the foundation of what is now considered a top program on the national stage. During his career Dr. Withycombe earned numerous honors at Whitman and in 2009 was named the Washington Professor of the Year, an award sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education in honor of extraordinary dedication to teaching.

On November 3, 1979, a coalition of Klan and neo-Nazis confronted a coalition of union organizers and civil rights workers who were preparing for a legal and peaceful march against the Klan and in favor of greater unionization of the textile mills in the Greensboro, N.C. area. In what could be described variously as an ambush, a massacre, or a shoot-out, the attackers fired into the unarmed crowd of demonstrators, killing 5 and wounding 10. Greensboro: the racially and economically divided city that was home to the first-ever student sit-in protest that launched the modern aggressive civil rights movement, but also a city wedded to outward shows of civility designed to advance the “chamber of commerce image of the new South.” For generations, Greensboro residents were wedded to two competing narratives that were products of vastly different cultural, ideological, and empirical grounds. Over the course of three trials involving the shootings—two criminal and one civil—these two competing narratives were put to the test, and the outcomes were mostly unfortunate and completely unsatisfying to the widows and survivors. In one final effort to rewrite the narratives, this time as a significantly less ideologically grounded single narrative, the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission was formed—the first-ever American TRC. In this presentation I will explore the different competing narratives, the limits of systems of retributive justice, and the potential value in restorative justice.

Street parking available, or at the public lot at Pier 32.

Afterwards join us for coffee and cookies in the foyer of the Delancey Street Foundation.

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