Our History & Track Record

In recent times new opportunities have emerged for truth-speaking, reconciliation and trustbuilding initiatives. Southern Truth and Reconciliation (STAR) has more than a decade of service history involving several such initiatives.

Inspiration from South Africa

TRCThe founding of STAR was inspired by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the chair of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). During his residence at Emory University between 1998 and 2000, Tutu repeatedly challenged audiences to learn from and adapt South Africa’s TRC’s goals to our own interests and issues in the United States. Such commissions offer alternatives for addressing today’s issues—such as hate crimes and social-economic inequities—and are now a defining feature of globalization and national restoration.

Alliance for Truth & Racial Reconciliation

handsIn 2005 Southern Truth and Reconciliation (STAR) co-founded the Alliance for Truth & Racial Reconciliation, http://www.ATRR.org, with representatives of the Birmingham Pledge and the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at Ole Miss, the University of Mississippi in Oxford. This led to the March 2006 “Southern Exposure” conference at Ole Miss and resulted in the historic regional networking of more than twenty participating organizations listed at http://www.atrr.org. Current STAR partners also include the Hope In the Cities organization in Richmond, VA, now Initiatives of Change (IOC) USA.

Coalition to Remember the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot

In 2006 STAR co-organized Atlanta’s centennial observance to commemorate the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot, September 22-24, 1906. Sources document that a mob of hundreds of white men killed scores of blacks (estimates vary) and two whites. See Mark Bauerlein, Negrophobia: A Race Riot in Atlanta, 1906; 2002. ‘The Coalition to Remember the 1906 Atlanta Race Riot’ received a 2007 Phoenix Award, the City of Atlanta’s highest honor, for its four-day multifaceted conference. See STAR and our Coalition partners profiled in a 2006 WABE 90.1 FM news story on the 1906 Race Riots.

Atlanta Friends of the Liberian TRC

In 2008 STAR served among the Atlanta Friends of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) alongside the Carter Presidential Center, Emory University, Morehouse and Spelman colleges, Refugee Resettlement Services of Atlanta, and the premier law firms of King & Spaulding, Kilpatrick Stockton, Alston & Byrd, and Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan, assisting in the process of statement-taking training and providing other community support.

Anniversary of the Sam Hose Lynching

In 2010 STAR began observing the anniversary of the notorious Sam Hose lynching in Newnan, Georgia on April 23, 1899. We also provided support for the major ATRR conference on truth and reconciliation held in Newnan on the Hose anniversary in 2012. Called, “The Gathering,” the conference provided a weekend of scholarly presentations, grassroots community histories, and storytelling. While providing networking for future collaboration.

Donations and Grants

Since our founding in 2003, Southern Truth and Reconciliation has been awarded grants and received donations from individuals, as well as religious and civic groups. In particular we received a start-up grant from Atlanta’s (Episcopal) Cathedral of St. Philip followed by a generous community grant from the Allstate Foundation.™  More recently in 2012 we received a major grant from a private donor for the continuation of our work.

Hidden Stories of Rights Denied’ Conference

In November 2012 STAR provided funding and logistical support for the “Hidden Stories of Rights Denied” conference in Orlando on the transatlantic slave trade and related racial violence. The conference was cosponsored by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)™ and by the Rosewood Heritage Foundation in Florida. In addition to funding STAR provided consultations and speakers.

Motivation from Past Terror

A second significant factor in the formation of STAR was the spring 2002 opening of the souvenir lynching postcard exhibition at Atlanta’s Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. The exhibit, titled “Without Sanctuary,” documented lynching as a domestic form of terrorism in the United States from the 1880s to the 1940s. The exhibit also featured the history of the anti-lynching movement and the eventual success of multiracial coalitions to reduce racial terror in today’s southern communities.