Seven-part serialized investigative podcast, hosted by native Alabamians Chip Brantley and Andrew Beck Grace, available May 14.
Tuesday, May 7, 2019; Washington D.C. — In 1965, Reverend James Reeb — a Unitarian minister and civil-rights activist — was killed during the voting rights movement in Selma. After three men were tried and acquitted for his murder, the city’s white community buried the truth. More than 50 years later, two native Alabamians return to Selma to uncover the truth about who killed James Reeb, and to delve into the systems of oppression and violence that allowed it to happen.
In White Lies, a narrative podcast available May 14, co-hosts Andrew Beck Grace and Chip Brantley expose the lies that kept the murder from being solved and uncover a story about guilt, memory, and justice that says as much about America today as it does about the past. In a place where a legacy of impunity and silence conspires against them, Brantley and Grace scour Selma for living witnesses, guided by an unredacted copy of an old FBI file. They meet people who know the truth about the murder but have lied for decades — until now.
“Working with the NPR investigative team, Chip and Andy’s reporting answers questions about James Reeb’s death that have lingered for over half a century,” said Anya Grundmann, SVP of Programming and Audience Development. “This is a deeply told story about a piece of our history that contains hard and unexpected truths that still reverberate today.”
Hear a trailer now on Apple Podcasts, NPR One, Pocket Casts, or wherever podcasts are available. New episodes of White Lies will publish each Tuesday for the next seven weeks.
“The story of Jim Reeb’s murder occupies a strange place in our country’s history,” said Andrew Beck Grace. “As we reported this story and discovered the lies that had been crafted to hide the truth about his murder, we saw a chance to correct this narrative. And as white southerners, we felt we had a responsibility to do that.”
“We set out to make a dynamic and responsible piece of crime reporting, and it’s been a dream to have the support of NPR’s investigative team,” said Chip Brantley.
Chip Brantley is the author of The Perfect Fruit (Bloomsbury), and his work has appeared in Slate, the Oxford American, and The New York Times, among others. A senior lecturer in journalism at the University of Alabama, Brantley is a former director of TV development for Dogstar Films and the creative producer of Whitman, Alabama, an experimental documentary that was a 2018 Emmy finalist in the New Approaches in Documentary category. Brantley lives in Birmingham.
Andrew Beck Grace is nonfiction filmmaker whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and PBS’s Independent Lens. His award-winning film Eating Alabama premiered at SXSW, aired nationally on PBS, and was awarded Best Documentary by the James Beard Foundation. Grace’s interactive documentary, After the Storm, was a co-production of PBS’s Independent Lens and The Washington Post. It has been exhibited internationally and was nominated for an Emmy in New Approaches to Documentary. Grace teaches nonfiction filmmaking and journalism at the University of Alabama.
NPR podcasts receive 31.8 million weekly downloads across all shows (Source: Splunk, NPR Podcast Logs). According to the Podtrac industry ranker, NPR is the leading publisher of podcasts.
Chip Brantley and Andrew Beck Grace are faculty members in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media, housed in the College of Communication and Information Sciences at The University of Alabama. To learn more about C&IS, visit cis.ua.edu/.