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It happened so long ago. It’s the distant past. Most of those involved are long dead or too old to remember. Do we really want to punish an 87-year-old, dying man for something he did half a century ago? Can’t we just move on?
These are questions and sentiments raised by white Alabamians in White Lies, an excellent new investigative podcast from NPR. The seven-episode series, which premiered in May, follows journalists Andrew Beck Grace and Chip Brantley as they revisit an infamous civil-rights-era cold case: the 1965 murder of white clergyman James Reeb in Selma, Alabama.
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While walking down the street, Reeb and two other white ministers—in Selma to march on behalf of civil tights—were attacked and beaten by a gang of white men. Reeb was clubbed in the head and died of his wounds. His death sparked a national outcry, but no one was ever held to account. Three men were tried for Reeb’s murder but acquitted by an all-white jury. The defense posited a conspiracy theory that became the accepted truth among Selma’s white residents: Reeb was only injured in the attack on the street; he actually died at the hands of civil-rights leaders who wanted a white martyr for their cause.
In White Lies, Grace and Brantley go knocking on doors in Selma, in search of the truth. They face a lot of “leave me out of it” closed doors from folks who’d rather not be confronted with Selma’s ugly past. But they are diligent in their investigation, modeling a sort of unflinching commitment to truth—however uncomfortable it may be—that Christians would do well to emulate.
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White Lies is a riveting series with the sorts of twists and turns we’ve come to expect in true crime podcasts. But it’s more than just entertainment. The podcast reminds us of the importance...
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Hell sometimes looks an awful lot like an office cubicle.