Dr. Renee Romano of Oberlin College will deliver the lecture “What Kind of Reckoning?: Making Sense of the Contemporary Prosecutions of Civil Rights-Era Murders” on Thursday, March 26, at 6 p.m., in the Raccoon Mountain Room of the UTC University Center. The Departments of History and Political Science, Public Administration and Nonprofit Management are sponsoring this free lecture. It is open to the public.
Few whites who violently resisted the civil rights struggle were charged with crimes in the 1950s and 60s. But since 1994, when a Mississippi jury convicted Byron De La Beckwith for the 1963 murder of Medgar Evers, more than one hundred civil rights-era murder cases have been reopened, resulting in more than a dozen trials.
In her talk, Romano will explore the forces that drove the legal system to revisit these decades-old murders, what happened in the courtroom when the accused came before a jury, how reopenings and trials have been represented in the media and popular culture, and how much these trials have contributed to a public reckoning with America’s history of racial violence.
Romano, Professor of History, Africana Studies and Comparative American Studies at Oberlin College, researches and writes about race, civil rights, and historical memory in the post-WWII United States.
She is the author or editor of four books: Race Mixing: Black-White Marriage in Postwar America (Harvard University Press, 2003); The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory (University of Georgia Press, 2006); Doing Recent History: On Privacy, Copyright, Video Games, Institutional Review Boards, Activist Scholarship, and History that Talks Back (University of Georgia Press, 2012); and Racial Reckoning: Prosecuting America’s Civil Rights Murders (Harvard University Press, 2014). With Claire Potter (The New School), she co-edits the book series, Since 1970: Histories of Contemporary America at the University of Georgia Press.