What the Hell Is “Truth and Reconciliation,” Anyway?
House impeachment manager Jamie Raskin delivered a speech during Donald Trump’s impeachment trial in which he made a direct appeal to reality: “Democracy needs a ground to stand upon,” he said. “And that ground is the truth."
There’s a lot of demand for reckoning in America right now. Cities around the country are debating and in some cases instituting some forms of reparations for Black residents. Last June, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) introduced a bill to establish a “United States Commission on Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation,” which has gained 169 co-sponsors. In December, even anchor Chuck Todd asked his guests on “Meet the Press” about the political prospects for a national Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).
The calls for a rigorous public accounting of Trump-era misdeeds reached a crescendo in the aftermath of the violent attack on the Capitol in January: the impeachment proceedings against the former president became, all of a sudden, the de facto court for establishing the reality of the 2020 election results, even as Republican lawmakers voted to acquit.
It raised the fundamental question: How do we establish the truth, amid a war on truth itself?
On today's episode of the Mother Jones Podcast, journalists Shaun Assael and Peter Keating share their deep reporting into the history of the "truth and reconciliation" movement, here and abroad, and what we can learn from its promises and pitfalls—presenting a realistic view of their effectiveness as building blocks for reality, rather than magic bullets. “There can be no reconciliation before justice,” Keating says.
On Sonny Liston, Non-Sports Sportswriting & Confederate Monuments
February 7, 2020
CoastLine: Shaun Assael On Sonny Liston, Lennon Lacy, And Confederate Monuments
Sonny Liston, heavyweight boxing champion in the early 1960s, died near the beginning of 1971. The reason listed on the death certificate: natural causes. But nearly 50 years later, the question of whether he was murdered is an open one for some. It’s a question Shaun Assael set out to answer with his book, The Murder of Sonny Liston: Las Vegas, Heroin, and Heavyweights.
Lennon Lacy, a 17-year-old West Bladen High School football player was found dead, hanging by belts from a swing set four years ago. Local authorities determined Lacy’s death a suicide. But family members and the NAACP alleged it was murder in the style of a lynching. Shaun Assael set out to investigate the story. Two years after Lacy’s death, the U.S. Justice Department issued its own determination – affirming the conclusion of local officials.
Just last month, Glamour Magazine published a story entitled, The Secret Fight to Save Confederate Monuments. The byline: Shaun Assael. There are a few threads here with which one could weave a theme, but we’ll leave that bit of business to Shaun Assael himself, award-winning investigative journalist, reporter for ESPN for 20 years, author of four books, and a man who describes his instincts as always leading to crime and politics, despite his twenty years in the investigations unit at ESPN.
I joined Off The Ball in Dublin, Ireland, to discuss the life and death of the former heavyweight boxing champion of the world, beginning at the end.
Show date: January 14, 2020.
Listen: The Beat of Sports on Showtime’s ‘Pariah’
November 16, 2019
I joined the show to talk about Showtime's documentary on the life and mystery surrounding Sonny Liston's death.
Show date: November 14, 2019
Listen: Ring Tones
November 13, 2019
Episode 2: Award-winning author, journalist and investigator Shaun Assael joins the pod to discuss "Pariah: The Lives and Deaths of Sonny Liston," a documentary developed from his book "The Murder of Sonny Liston: Las Vegas, Heroin and Heavyweights." Immerse yourself in latter-day Las Vegas, learn how the infamous heavyweight champ shuttled between two worlds and delve into the craft of storytelling.
May 28, 2019
I am thrilled to be in the Summer 2019 issue of the Oxford American with this piece about segregated tennis in the South.
It is Green Book, told through a tennis lens.
Set at the start of the 1950s, it tells the story of an African American civil rights pioneer from Wilmington, N.C., named Hubert A. Eaton, and a tennis court that he built in his backyard.
The court is where a 19-year-old tennis prodigy from Harlem named Althea Gibson found international fame. It is also where a five-year-old named Lendward Simpson watched history being made — on the court and off.
The story chronicles Lenny's lifelong connection to The Court, and how, at the age of seventy, this former pro is going to astonishing lengths to make sure its important history is told.
You can read the piecehere, or even better, buy the whole issue here.