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Uncovering Buried Truths

Hank Klibanoff and civil rights attorney Howard Moore search for records in the Macon
Johnathon Kelso
Hank Klibanoff and civil rights attorney Howard Moore search for records in the Macon courthouse.

“Who were we? Who were we as a people that allowed this to happen?”

Journalist and Emory University professor Hank Klibanoff asks these questions after he tells the story of Isaiah Nixon, in the first episode of the podcast “Buried Truths.”

In 1948, two white men shot Nixon three times, in front of his family, because he confirmed that he voted in the Democratic primary election. Nixon died two days later.

The first season of “Buried Truths” focused on Nixon’s case.

Klibanoff notes that we know who committed this murder and we know where and how it happened. But he wants to understand why.

Klibanoff, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, leads the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project, a project for Emory University undergraduates.

“Buried Truths” is based on the work of that project, which examines crimes motivated by racism that went unsolved.

From the series’ description:

The students locate, dig out and analyze the documentation of those crimes, then engage in understanding the difficult and fascinating (and, for many families, enduring) history of the life and times of these victims. Students are tasked with finding the truth, producing answers that families of victims have long despaired they will never know, and to present accounts of their findings through a public platform that serves to reveal truth, close gaps in history and bring closure to families of victims.

*We spoke to Klibanoff about the first season of the podcast, and you can hear that episode here.*

The second series analyzes the case of A.C. Hall, an unarmed black teenager who was shot by police after being mistakenly identified by a white couple in 1962.

Klibanoff says the cops invoked self-defense as their rationale for killing Hall. And he refers to self-defense in the podcast as a “secret password” for white juries, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

We talk to Klibanoff about what the series has accomplished so far, their 2018 Peabody Award win and where he hopes to take the project next.

Produced by Jonquilyn Hill.


Hank Klibanoff, Host, “Buried Truths”; director, Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project at Emory University; author, “The Race Beat”; @HankKlibanoff

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