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.
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.
Season 2 of the Civil Wrongs podcast coming in spring 2023.
Meet the students working to bring forgotten history to life.
Andre Lacy is a senior journalism student at the University of Memphis. He focuses on storytelling through his work as an upcoming broadcast journalist. Andre is a foodie and loves a good book and hanging out with his friends and family. Follow him on Twitter @andre_lacy.
James Potts is a senior political science major at the University of Memphis and is a strong advocate for social justice. He is striving to be a future politician who fights for what is right and represents those without a voice. Follow him on Instagram @flex.james.
Hannah Schrachta is a journalism student at the University of Memphis. She is an avid doll and stuffed animal collector who loves anything sweet.
Jacob Wilt is a senior journalism student at the University of Memphis, and editor of its campus newspaper, the Daily Helmsmen. He spends his free time watching new movies, playing guitar (or at least trying), and mountain biking.
Cal Tuttle aspires to be a multimedia journalist that writes international newsworthy events. He is passionate about writing in his spare time. After his experience in the U.S. Marine Corps, he has a unique perspective of national and international topics that he brings to the table for news outlets.
Ron Todd is a junior journalism student from the University of Memphis, and loves writing and talking about African American history. He is a huge sports fan, and has a 2,000-song playlist on Spotify.
Taylor Thompson is a senior Journalism student at the University of Memphis pursuing a career in sports writing. When he’s not watching basketball, he can be found reading, playing video games or hanging out with his two dogs.
Daniel Thoma is a journalism student from Mainz, Germany. He’s spending a semester abroad at the University of Memphis. He’s Indonesian and German and loves to cook while listening to metal music.
Johnny Hill a senior journalism and broadcast student at the University of Memphis. He has a podcast called “Under Da Hood Sports” on YouTube and Spotify. He is also the sports director for the University of Memphis radio station “The Roar.” Follow him on all the social media apps at @johnnyblessed8.
Hannah Bitzer is an exchange student from Germany where she is studying journalism in the master’s program. Her field of study includes broadcasting, podcast and radio, reporting and online journalism. She is curious and interested to learn more about the American history. She loves movies and going to the cinema.
Greta Hullmann is an exchange student from Germany, majoring in journalism. She is interested in literature, politics and how protests lead to social change. Her favorite concept is intersectionality, and she adores nature walks, coffee and cake and movies featuring flawed, angry female characters.
Billy “BJ” Gibbs
Billy “BJ” Gibbs is a junior journalism student at the University of Memphis and specializes in writing and producing all things media. He is a sports and music fanatic hailing from North Little Rock, Arkansas. He lives by the quote “day by day to see another day and with another day is the opportunity for a better one.” Follow him on social media @b.l0ading_.
Turner Schneider is a senior journalism student at the University of Memphis usually writing about sports or movies. When not reading about sports, Turner loves to play with his dogs and enjoys a good scary movie.
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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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.