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Mourning in AmericaRace and the Politics of Loss$
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David W. McIvor

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781501704956

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501704956.001.0001

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The Politics of Mourning in America

The Politics of Mourning in America

From the Greensboro Massacre to the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission

(p.1) 1 The Politics of Mourning in America
Mourning in America

David W. McIvor

Cornell University Press

This chapter begins with a discussion of an event that came to be known as the Greensboro Massacre. On November 3, 1979, Ku Klux Klansmen disrupted a scheduled rally in a black public-housing neighborhood planned by the Communist Workers Party (CWP). Violent confrontations between the demonstrators and white supremacists resulted in the death of five CWP members and activists. It is argued that Greensboro dramatizes the full range of what could be described as the politics of mourning. The chapter then turns to the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission (GTRC), a grassroots-organized TRC that operated in Greensboro, North Carolina, from 2004 to 2006. The GTRC marked the creation of public space for dialogue and deliberation about a painful event in the city's history and the complicated pathways between that event and the present life of the community. The GTRC, when contextualized within a democratic theory of mourning, can provide a model for similar means and mechanisms of responding to the frustrations, blockages, and confusions within our con temporary politics of grief.

Keywords:   public mourning, social mourning, democratic labor, Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Greensboro Massacre, white supremacists

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