Uncovering a New Season of ‘Buried Truths’

Award-winning podcast takes a close look at the racially charged killing of Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia, earlier this year.

Based on the Georgia Civil Rights Cold Cases Project course that works to uncover the history of racially motivated murders in the Jim Crow South, the podcast “Buried Truths” has devoted its new season to a high-profile Georgia killing earlier this year. The seven-episode series, produced by public radio station WABE, focuses on the February shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery, an unarmed twenty-five-year-old Black man who was pursued by three armed white men near the coastal city of Brunswick. All Season Three episodes were released simultaneously in September

Portrait of Ahmaud Arbery

Ahmaud Arbery

Emory’s Pulitzer Prize-winning professor and journalist Hank Klibanoff, working with five Emory College of Arts and Sciences undergraduates, local editor Richard Halicks, and the WABE production team, unearthed the centuries-long roots of the killing during a summer marked by national protests demanding a reckoning on race.

“What has happened in the past is still happening. It just looks a little different,” says Cameron Katz 21C, a senior with a double major in history and creative writing, who helped research the ancestry of the men charged in Arbery’s death: Gregory McMichael, his son Travis McMichael, and William “Roddie” Bryan.

“Going deeper into the history allows us to connect dots that people might not have known existed,” Klibanoff says. “Many of us are experiencing a deep and compelling need, driven in part by the moral outrage triggered by this case, to understand who we were, so we can better understand who we are today.”

Arbery’s death, which remained largely unknown for weeks, drew national attention—and outrage—after video of the February confrontation was released. Klibanoff and his Emory College student team, including Jake Busch 22C, Hannah Charak 22C, Jordan Flowers 21C, Katz and Sage Mason 18Ox 20C, decided then to begin tracing the history behind Arbery’s death. Previous research by junior Rowan Thomas 21C regarding the role of slave patrols in creating police forces in the rural South also guided their work.

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