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Between Remembrance and RepairCommemorating Racial Violence in Philadelphia, Mississippi$
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Claire Whitlinger

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781469656335

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469656335.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM UNIVERSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA PRESS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.northcarolina.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of North Carolina Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in NCSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021

Commissioning Truth and Reconciliation

Commissioning Truth and Reconciliation

(p.109) 5 Commissioning Truth and Reconciliation
Between Remembrance and Repair

Claire Whitlinger

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter explores the relationship between the 2004 commemoration in Philadelphia, Mississippi and the Mississippi Truth Project, a state-wide project initially modelled after South Africa’s post-apartheid Truth and Reconciliation Commission. After reviewing the history of transitional justice efforts in the United States and the social scientific literature on how civil society-based truth commissions emerge, the chapter demonstrates how the 2004 commemoration and subsequent trial of Edgar Ray Killen precipitated the formation of a state-wide truth commission when previous efforts had failed. In short, this research finds that the commemoration mobilized mnemonic activists; concentrated local, state, and global resources; broadened political opportunity; and shifted the political culture of the state. Despite these developments—and years of project planning—the Mississippi Truth Project changed course in 2009, abandoning a South African-style truth commission in favour of grassroots memory projects and oral history collection. The chapter thus sheds lights on the possibilities and perils of pursuing non-state truth commissions.

Keywords:   Mississippi Truth Project, civil society, commemoration, Mississippi, mnemonic activists, oral history, political opportunity, South Africa, transitional justice, truth commission

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