Penn State Behrend Program to Examine Nation's Racial Climate

Reimagining the Humanities lecture series returns Tuesday, March 22

ERIE, Pa. – Feb. 24, 2016 – In June 1964, three civil rights workers - James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner - were abducted and murdered in Mississippi. It would take 41 years for anyone to be charged with the crimes.

In recent years, more than 100 similar civil rights era murder cases have been reopened, resulting in more than a dozen criminal trials. On Tuesday, March 22, Renee Romano, professor of history, Africana studies and comparative American studies at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, will discuss how America's changing collective memory has led many of these cases to be reopened and affected the nation's racial climate when she visits Penn State Behrend for a special presentation.

Romano's talk, "The Great Force of History: Collective Memory, White Innocence, and Making Black Lives Matter," will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the Metzgar Center lobby. It is free and open to the public.

Romano's book "Racial Reckoning: Prosecuting America's Civil Rights Murders" brings readers into the courtrooms for the trials of the civil rights era's most infamous killings, including the Birmingham church bombing that killed four young girls and the triple murder of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner. The book also examines why addressing the nation's troubled racial past requires more than legal justice.

Romano's presentation is part of the Reimagining the Humanities Lecture Series. For additional information, contact Janet Neigh at

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