A fitting recognition for the first anniversary of the killing of an unarmed African American adolescent by a white Ferguson police officer would be the convening of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It may be the time that we – the people and our public officials – face the sordid history of the nation that has allowed the continuation of racial oppression in support of various forms of White nationalism. The first step to radically change continuing forms of institutional racism will likely require some sort of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
"After the [Civil] war, Virginia and its fellow states in the Confederacy avoided an accounting. The gentleman’s code apparently deterred integrity. Accounting has not occurred; the half remains untold. The United States has not authorized a truth and reconciliation commission. Although blurred, the color line persists. Barack Obama’s election did not translate into a post-racial society. White America seems to have believed that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 erased history . Several centuries of slavery followed by segregation and racism, de jure and de facto, apparently left no trace. The attitudes insulted those who made history and those who lived it. Nothing could be less conservative than a reluctance to confront the past."
"This is Virginia’s opportunity…. The slaveocracy took root in the Chesapeake. Richmond served as capital of the Confederacy… Virginia is the ideal state to take the lead in addressing truth and reconciliation, in other words."
The controversy over displaying and the eventual lowering of the Confederate flag in South Carolina served as an example of the kind of soul-searching and action that is needed, but much more is required on broader and deeper scale.
The convening of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission is needed not just in Virginia, but in settings throughout the United States. Such an accounting of racial wrongs against people of color can be an important start to dismantling economic and political racial inequities that continue in housing, jobs, and education.