What about the issues of ‘now’? A discussion of Hank Klibanoff’s speech at the symposium held last Thursday

Jessica Parker


The annual M. Stanton Evans Symposium on Money, Politics and the Media, presented by the Hall School of Journalism and Communication, was held last Thursday in the Trojan Center Ballrooms, and Pulitzer Prize winner Hank Klibanoff was the keynote speaker.

Klibanoff spoke at Troy University on the murder and mayhem that occurred during the civil rights movement.

Klibanoff was born in Florence and worked with newspapers for 36 years. He is the co-author of “The Race Beat,” a book that describes the key role journalism played during the civil rights movement. He is now a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, where he is the director of the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project.

This project looks into the murders of minorities before and during the civil rights movement.

“The history is within our reach and in our lives,” Klibanoff said.

Klibanoff also said that his desire to seek justice is based on his belief that no one who has committed a murder should be able to go to sleep at night without worrying that he might be caught the next day.

Klibanoff’s address to the audience was titled “The Race Beat: Then and Now,” but I couldn’t help but leave feeling that something was missing.

Even though Klibanoff gave us a look into the past and what was going on then, I hungered for more.

What about the issues of now? Is there any comparison between the struggles of African-Americans then and African-Americans now?

When I think of the “now” in comparison to the civil rights movement, I think of the “Black Lives Matter” movement — a movement that has caused so much controversy and raised the question, do “Black Lives Matter” or do “All Lives Matter?”

Klibanoff hit us right in the heart with photographs from the beating of Clarence Pickett — a man who in 1957 was attacked by police, was denied medical attention and ultimately died from his injuries.

During my observation of not just the speaker, but also the students who surrounded me, I found some with tears in their eyes.

“I think it’s great to see people taking an interest in history,” said Arneisha Robinson, a senior multimedia journalism major from Crestview, Florida. “I enjoyed it even though I didn’t honestly think I would.”

It is sad to know how many lives were lost simply because of racism.

I believe the injustices of the past should be recognized, and Klibanoff has done that through “The Race Beat,” as well as the cold cases that his team is investigating.

But can one compare the killings during the civil rights movement to events such as 9/11?

Klibanoff did compare them. He began his presentation with photographs of known terrorists who have attacked our country.

Tyler Wooley, a senior multimedia journalism major from Foley, said that the two can be compared.

“They were both done out of hate,” Wooley said. “I don’t think they are exactly the same, but I do see how he could correlate between the two.”

Wooley said that he enjoyed the symposium and felt that it was over too quickly.

In my opinion, the killings of African-Americans then, as well as the killings of any American now based on race, religion or even professions such as law enforcement, are just as horrific as the attacks by Osama bin Laden or any other known terrorist against the United States.

However, I do feel that there is a distinct difference in the then and the now. Then, hate crimes were mainly committed against African-Americans. Now, hate crimes are committed against all races, all religions, all those who disclose their sexual preferences and even those who decide to take up a noble profession such as law enforcement.

The list of people attacked in current times because they are different could go on forever.

Klibanoff’s presentation did a great job showing everything about what happened then; however, I thought it ended without ever getting around to the now.

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