T&R – A primer

Update II: The Optimistic Pessimist weighs in and takes a look at what he could find out about the GTCR groups’ finances and concludes with this observation for the Commission.. er, the Project, uh – whomever…:

I wouldn’t say you have been untruthful, but you haven’t been as forthcoming as you need to be. If you want the endorsement of the people in Greensboro, “truth” and “transparency” would go a long way in achieving that goal.”


Update: Chewie and Mr. Sun are getting re-acquainted in the comments below – read them.


Allen JohnsonFor a few brief, shameful minutes Tuesday night, City Council member Florence Gatten seemed to be auditioning for a county commissioner’s seat….”  Allen’s N&R column echoes many of the same sentiments and impressions I took from Tuesday night’s City Council vote to “oppose the Truth and Reconciliation program” (that’s how Councilman Perkins worded the motion fifteen minutes and ten seconds into the Council’s discussion).

Robbie Perkins is a knowledgable and articulate (albeit, white) guy, but he flubbed the motion on who he hoped the Council would vote to oppose.  Not one of our elected representatives corrected him.  Perhaps they are as confused as everyone else about who or what to support or oppose.  This confusion is understandable and needs to be cleared up.

There is no Truth & Reconciliation “program”. 

There is, however, the Greensboro Truth & Community Reconciliation Project (GTCRP).  Presumably, this is the organization that Perkins’ motion was supposed to oppose.

The work of the GTCRP was initiated by two Greensboro organizations: The Beloved Community Center (BCC), led by 1979 ‘Death to the Klan’ march organizer Rev. Nelson Johnson and the Greensboro Justice Fund (GJF) whose mission statement doesn’t exactly exude objectivity relative to the ‘Greensboro Massacre’ either. 

These two organizations apparently contacted the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) to lend considerable legitimacy to the GTCRP’s efforts.  This contact was probably made in an effort to thwart the predictable (and properly) locally held perception that, because of his proximity to the Nov. 3 events, any group led by Rev. Johnson couldn’t possibly find the truth on its own. The ICTJ has undertaken similar projects throughout the world and was instrumental in helping the local Project secure funding for the multi-year process of finding truth here in Greensboro.  This truth/fact finding is the first step toward obtaining some community reconciliation among all groups involved hereabouts.

Under the GTCRP’s banner is the Local Task Force (LTF) whose: “work includes garnering and broadening citizen, organizational and institutional support of the Project, establishing the process for selecting the Truth and Justice Commission, and providing leadership for implementation of the recommendations agreed to by the TRC report.”  It was members of the LTC who spoke before the City Council Tuesday night and received such rough treatment by Councilwoman Gatten.

And then we have the T&R Commission (GTRC) which is an independent body established to take in all of the information gathered (ed note: NOT by the LTF) and make some sense out of it.  They are then charged with compiling a final report and recommendations which will then be presented to the community and the world.  It is the endorsement of this final report for which the six white members of the City Council wanted to reserve their judgement.  The Commission’s weblog is here.

Critical to the work of the GTCRProject and the GTRCommission is transparency, clear communication and openness.  They could both do a much better job at all three.

Even though the GTRC’s Communication Director, Joya Wesley, does a fine job of answering all questions thrown her way their website is full of holes; holes that, if filled, could clear up a lot of mis-information and confusion about the process, their finances, where they are, and where they are headed.  As example, their frequently asked questions (FAQ) section lists lots of great questions but not a single word about finances (which was central to Gatten’s consternations Tuesday).  Many of the links they present to outside information that could easily inform the reader go nowhere.  The T&R Commission’s website has been under construction ever since I have been paying attention to its work.  It is barren of pertinent information on the subject.

We need all of the available information in one place.  By not providing an easily accessible and understandable one-stop repository of information, the various groups involved can expect more confusion about who is who, and what is what, and when it will all take place.  Greensboro can’t afford any more confusion as exemplified by Robbie Perkins’ motion Tuesday night.

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