Memphis In-Person | Streaming Online

Why Isn’t Remembering Enough to Repair?

Why Isn’t Remembering Enough to Repair? | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian
Co-presented by Zócalo Public Square and National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel
Moderated by William Sturkey, University of Pennsylvania Historian and Hattiesburg Author

The Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel did not believe in collective guilt. Instead, he asked for repair, and for holding the post-World War II generation of Germans responsible “not for the past, but for the way it remembers the past. And for what it does with the memory of the past.” Other societies and communities have taken up Wiesel’s call—at the national level, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and Argentina’s efforts to prosecute Dirty War military leaders, and at the local level, movements like the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission in North Carolina and land back efforts in the Pacific Northwest. What comes after we remember, from apology and forgiveness to reparations and justice?

Benjamin W. Rawlins Professor of Communication Andre E. Johnson, Monument Lab co-founder and artist Ken Lum, and reparations leader Robin Rue Simmons join Zócalo and the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis to discuss what repair looks like, and how different people and places have stumbled and succeeded in its pursuit.

We invite our in-person audience to continue the conversation with our speakers and each other at a post-event reception with complimentary drinks and small bites from Big Momma’s & Granny’s.

“How Should Societies Remember Their Sins?” is a two-year editorial and event series supported by the Mellon Foundation. Blending scholarly essays and personal stories, we will explore how societies around the world collectively remember their transgressions and make attempts at repair, and how we might imagine new paths forward.

National Civil Rights Museum
450 Mulberry St
Memphis, TN 38103

The Takeaway

How History Takes on Healing Power 

Discussing Reparations and Repair at Memphis’ Lorraine Motel

The Lorraine Motel in downtown Memphis, just blocks away from Beale Street, the city’s historic African American commercial center, first opened as a whites-only establishment in the 1920s. But just …