In 2021, Congresswoman Barbara Lee and Senator Cory Booker proposed legislation to establish a United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation.
The bill is informed by the work of dozens of truth commissions in other countries over the past 40 years. But many people are not well informed about what happened in other places that can or should inform a US truth commission. This talk presents preliminary observations from field work in three countries that continue to engage in forms of state-sponsored truth-telling as a mechanism for reconciliation and/or racial justice.
Khalil Gibran Muhammad is the Ford Foundation Professor of History, Race and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School, where he directs the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project. He is co-host of the Pushkin podcast Some of My Best Friends Are… (available free wherever you get your podcasts), and the former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, a division of the New York Public Library and the world’s leading library and archive of global Black history. Khalil recently co-chaired a National Academies of Science consensus study, published this fall, “Reducing Racial Inequality in Crime and Justice,” and is the award-winning author of The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime and the Making of Modern Urban America. He is a frequent contributor to documentary films, such as the Oscar nominated 13th, and an occasional writer for the New York Times, including The 1619 Project, among other media outlets. He serves on numerous boards, including the Vera Institute of Justice, The Museum of Modern Art, and the New York Historical Society.