10 Years Later: The Greensboro Truth & Community Reconciliation Project

NelsonFrom Nelson Johnson, pastor of Faith Community Church in Greensboro, NC and co-founder of the Beloved Community Center and Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project (which concluded in 2006)–quoted from Ambassadors of Reconciliation, Volume II (2011, Enns and Myers):

A public discussion about a historic event that focuses only on culpability—who was right, who was wrong, or whether the government was involved—isn’t enough. These are important moral questions, and I am fighting to answer them, but at the end of the day the TRC must lead to a therefore: If this be true, what shall we do?   People will not rush to embrace something that doesn’t make any difference for their lives. That would be like having a good discussion in church about the Bible, but when the flood comes everybody drowns anyway. If behavior doesn’t change, if people are still starving, if their children are still going to jail, TRCs will not be embraced. In order for TRCs to avoid becoming domesticated, as have so many other great political innovations, they must stay connected to real life.

We are working to build initiatives around the GTCRP [Greensboro Truth and Community Reconciliation Project] so it will not be splintered by the culture of domination. For example, we are currently gathering 20,000 signatures in support of a living wage for the local public and private sector. We see this as congruent with the GTCRP, part of the “therefore,” the feet walking right beside the truth process.

Another example is our work developing a “plan from below” for our city.   There is, of course, a plan from above, called Action Greensboro, and it has mapped out the future of the City—what industry is coming, what gentrification will happen and where. But no such thing exists from the perspective of the poor who are trapped in the basement of this dysfunctional house. We would hope that the GTCRP will put questions of economic justice on the table, so that the City planning process will face them. The reality of people being excluded from the current global economy has to be examined. Increasingly most of the available jobs are in the service sector, but these jobs don’t pay a living wage. A “truth” that doesn’t take these issues into account in the public conversation isn’t really worth much.   Greensboro needs both truth and a fair economy.

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