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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.
The Whitman College Alumni Association would like to thank Bill and Mary Way for hosting this event in their home. There will be Walla Walla wine and light hors d'oeuvres served before and following the lecture and Q & A.
RSVP by April 5 using the form below.
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