Civil Wrongsabout

About the project

Civil Wrongs project

Our mission is to investigate historical racial injustices in the Mid-South and analyze their effect on our present reality so that the public can make more informed decisions about our future.

Civil Wrongs is an investigative journalism project of the Institute for Public Service Reporting at the University of Memphis. The project includes an academic course to start next year here at the U of M. In this interdisciplinary course, students will examine unsolved and unresolved civil rights-related murders, police oppression and abuse, and the legacy of voter suppression, government surveillance, environmental injustice and human rights concerns. We’ll publish what we find in stories that will appear online, on public radio, and television.

For far too long, the truth about racial terror in our nation has been ignored, hidden, or downplayed. But we cannot fully heal without facing it head on.

We don’t necessarily expect to find new evidence to bring perpetrators to justice (though it could). We want to help readers understand how a past that we are prone to forget still affects us. There are so many stories that have never gotten the attention they deserve. We are committed to amplifying those stories and analyzing how they still reverberate today.

When we understand the historical root of our present problems, we are more informed about how to forge a better future.

Meet our coordinator

Laura Faith Kebede is the coordinator for The Institute’s Civil Wrongs project that investigates unsolved and unresolved murders of the civil rights era, lynchings, and racial massacres and analyzes their enduring effects. Laura is a Report for America corps member and recently hosted and wrote WKNO public television’s special History, Justice and the Journalists on unresolved civil rights crimes in the Memphis area. She previously covered education inequities for Chalkbeat Tennessee and local government and religion for the Richmond Times-Dispatch prior to that. Her data reporting on possible school closures in Memphis equipped parents and teachers with information denied to them and led to widespread advocacy.

Her focus on student voices led to systemic changes in Memphis schools and uplifted perspectives that are often ignored in traditional media. Laura is a former board member of the Lynching Sites Project of Memphis, a nonprofit that places historical markers where lynchings occurred. She is pursuing her master’s degree in liberal studies, an interdisciplinary program at the University of Memphis.

Contact us

What would you like to know about historical racial injustices and their impact today? Is there a story you know about that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves? How has our reporting affected you? What could we do better? We want to hear from you.

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Support our work

Civil Wrongs is a project of the Institute for Public Service Reporting at the University of Memphis. Our work is necessary to help Memphis and the Mid-South grapple with our history to understand its enduring effects so that we can create a better future. We receive funding from private donors and foundations. Your donation supports our work as a nonprofit news organization. And transparency is important to us; check out our list of supporters.