CHAPEL HILL – Longtime UNC Professor of Journalism Dr. Charlie Tuggle has dedicated more than four years to telling the story of Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo, an Argentinean human rights organization of grandmothers committed to finding their lost grandchildren.
On February 13, Tuggle will share that story on a special stage with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter for a panel discussion on human rights at The Carter Center in Atlanta.
**A live webcast of the panel discussion and screening will be available here.**
“So to be on that, if you will, national stage with the former President discussing the importance of human rights, indeed that could be—it is—one of the highlights of my professional career,” Tuggle said.
Tuggle’s documentary, “Las Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and the Search for Identity,” focuses on a period in Argentina’s history referred to as the Dirty War, during which tens of thousands of individuals were arrested, tortured and killed from 1976-1983.
The grandmothers interviewed in the film say their grandchildren were abducted by the Argentinean government during the country’s military dictatorship.
Those kidnapped became known as Los Desaparecidos or “the disappeared.” Many of the babies were taken from their mothers and given to families sympathetic to the ruling regime.
Tuggle explained that all information regarding the babies’ identities was changed.
“The main thing is that average people can make a difference. We have the grandmothers who were just a bunch of little old ladies with no political power whatsoever, and yet they changed the government of their country.”
The event next month, which is part of the “Conversations at The Carter Center” series, will focus on the Dirty War.
To begin the evening, Tuggle will present the 45-minute documentary, and Jennifer McCoy, director of the Carter Center’s Americas Program, will moderate a discussion to follow.
Hodding Carter, UNC Professor and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, will serve as co-panelist, along with Tex Harris, former U.S. Embassy officer in Argentina, and Bob Cox, former editor of the English-language Buenos Aires Herald.
Since the completion of the film two years ago, Tuggle has been screening the documentary nationally and internationally.
Some of those who are featured in the documentary were formerly associated with the U.S. State Department. They suggested that Tuggle reach out to the Carter Center, since the events happened during the Carter Administration.
“I basically emailed someone at the Carter Center out of the blue and said, ‘Hey, would you guys be interested in showing this?’ One thing led to another, and now they have made it a part of the President’s 90th birthday celebration, looking at this human rights legacy,” Tuggle said.
The documentary will also soon be helping teachers in the State educate students about the Dirty War.
“There is actually a unit on the UNC Campus that takes faculty projects and works them into N.C. [schools] curriculum, and that has just become available in the past week. We are sending out notices about that to teachers across the State, and then there will be a second set of lesson plans that are very similar that will be applicable to anyone in the country.”
Tuggle is the Director of the Master’s Program in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Until recently, he was the faculty head of Carolina Week, an award-winning student-run news program. He also helped to launch the student-run Sports Xtra, which is a dedicated to covering Tar Heel athletics.
You can catch Tuggle’s Sports Focus right here on WCHL Saturday and Sunday mornings.
**Hear the radio version of this story:**