Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Democracy, Dialogue, and Community Action: Truth and Reconciliation in Greensboro

Academic journal article The Journal of Southern History

Democracy, Dialogue, and Community Action: Truth and Reconciliation in Greensboro

Article excerpt

Democracy, Dialogue, and Community Action: Truth and Reconciliation in Greensboro. By Spoma Jovanovic. (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 2012. Pp. [xvi], 226. $34.95, ISBN 978-1-55728-991-9.)

On November 3, 1979, white supremacists attacked a communist-organized labor demonstration in Greensboro, North Carolina. A verbal fight between the demonstrators and the white supremacists turned deadly when the supremacists fired at the demonstrators. Five people were killed and ten injured. The confrontation was filmed by several local television stations, whose footage is readily available on YouTube. Ultimately, the white supremacists were exonerated based on claims of self-defense, while survivors, their families, and the community where the event took place suffered long-lasting physical and psychological trauma.

Spoma Jovanovic's Democracy, Dialogue, and Community Action: Truth and Reconciliation in Greensboro examines the efforts of Greensboro citizens, despite a lack of government support, to create a South African--modeled truth and reconciliation process to address the trauma of the incident almost twenty-five years later. The organizers believed that the process could promote a dialogue about what happened in 1979 and address endemic issues of race and class in the city.

Jovanovic is clear in the introduction that she is not writing a history of the so-called Greensboro massacre and refers readers to others who have done that work already. What she does do is write a thorough and engaging analysis of Greensboro's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the first such process in the United States and now internationally recognized as a model. …

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