The Past is Never Dead: What We Learn from Civil Rights Cold Cases


Speaker: Hank Klibanoff

Hank Klibanoff will discuss the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project, which he teaches and directs at Emory University, and the podcast Buried Truths (, which has drawn more than two million listeners in three seasons. The class and the podcast examine unpunished racially motivated killings in Georgia — investigating not who-done it (because we almost always know who did it) but why. Season 3 focused on a 2020 case that was remarkable because it so closely resembled cases from the 1950s: the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, a black jogger in Brunswick, Georgia, by three white men who chased him in trucks, cornered him, killed him, then claimed self-defense. His presentation will include photos, audio and videos from the cases covered in all three seasons.

Veteran journalist Hank Klibanoff won a Pulitzer Prize in History in 2007 for The Race Beat: The Press, the Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation (Knopf, 2006) (, co-authored with Gene Roberts, about the news coverage of the civil rights struggle in the South.

The Buried Truths podcast has won Peabody, Robert F. Kennedy, national Edward R. Murrow and American Bar Association Silver Gavel awards.

A native of Florence, Alabama, Klibanoff joined Emory at the close of a 36-year career in newspapers in Mississippi and at The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he was managing editor for news. He is a professor of practice in the Creative Writing Program at Emory, where he teaches non-fiction.
In Spring 2021, Klibanoff was nominated by President Joe Biden to the newly created Civil Rights Cold Case Records Review Board. The five-member board will examine all records held by the federal government related to civil rights killings from 1940 to 1980 and determine which records can be released to the public and the level of redactions.