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Righting Unrightable Wrongs: Legacies of Racial Violence and the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission

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Abstract:

The Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission (GTRC)—the first truth and reconciliation commission ever funded and seated in the United States—was formed in 2000 in response to a Ku Klux Klan shooting of labor activists that occurred in 1979 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Despite overwhelming video and photographic evidence of the Ku Klux Klan and American Nazi Party firing weapons into a crowd and killing five people, no one was ever held criminally liable for the deaths of the activists. In 1999 local community organizers began advocating for a truth and reconciliation process modeled after truth commissions in South Africa and Peru. In a broadly conceived qualitative approach that utilizes open-ended interviews and archival research, this project explores the truth process in Greensboro, focusing on the ways in which community members address legacies and memories of violence through reconciliation and grassroots politics. The research exposes the connections between the memory of violence and territoriality to wider academic scrutiny, examines the legacies of violence and race in North America, and contributes to larger discussions surrounding the impact that violence and race have in North American communities.

Keywords: comisiones de la verdad; critical race studies; estudios críticos de raza; labor struggles; luchas laborales; racism; racismo; reconciliación; reconciliation; truth commissions

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00045608.2011.603647

Affiliations: Department of Geography,University of Tennessee,

Publication date: 2012-11-01

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