New book shares oral history of Aug. 12, 2017 in Charlottesville

Published: Jul. 18, 2023 at 10:38 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Journalist and NBC29 alum Nora Neus recorded oral histories of people who were in Charlottesville and lived through the events of August 11 and 12, 2017. Her new book 24 Hours in Charlottesville shares perspectives from survivors, journalists, ER doctors, city and state officials.

”I did hours and hours -- I think over 100 hours of interviews,” Neus said.

Neus was in the field reporting on that tragic day. But when conducting interviews years later, she still discovered things that surprised her.

“We knew this was going to happen. The activists were trying to warn leaders at the university at the state level, at the city level, and largely were ignored. And that is why the level of violence happened the way that it did,” Neus said.

Neus spoke about what inspired her to author the book.

“This was really my attempt to put together and reconstruct the full story of what happened -- not just on August 12 and 11th, but really the whole summer of hate, and tell the story in the voices of community members, so that it wasn’t just someone from outside trying to explain, or even myself trying to explain what happened, but actually telling the story in the voices of people who were there, who put everything on the line,” Neus explained.

She held a book launch event at the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center, which more than 50 people attended.

Jalane Schmidt with the UVA Memory Project moderated the event, asking Neus questions about the process of writing the book.

“What is the obligation of the journalist given the intense power dynamics of imbalances that there are and the penchant for violence that is mainly on one side, where journalism has traditionally been concerned with neutrality and presenting both sides? And then, well, what do you do when one side is genocide? She’s asking some really trenchant questions here,” Schmidt said.

Neus says she is thankful to all those who took the time to relive their experiences.

“I think being able to share a story and then reclaim agency of your place in that story is really valuable,” Neus said.

Proceeds from the event and book will go to help survivors of August 12.

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