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The noose-hanging incident and the DA's visit to the school set the stage for everything

that followed. Racial tension escalated over the next couple of months, and on

November 30, the main academic building of Jena High School was burned down

 

 

Nooses and a legal lynching in Jena, Louisiana

A Letter from James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org  team

 

 

17 July 2007

Dear Rudolph,

Last fall in Jena, Louisiana, the day after two Black high school students sat beneath the "white tree" on their campus, nooses were hung from the tree. When the superintendent dismissed the nooses as a "prank," more Black students sat under the tree in protest. The District Attorney then came to the school accompanied by the town's police and demanded that the students end their protest, telling them, "I can be your best friend or your worst enemy... I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen."1
 
A series of white-on-black incidents of violence followed, and the DA did nothing. But when a white student was beaten up in a schoolyard fight, the DA responded by charging six black students with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

It's a story that reads like one from the Jim Crow era, when judges, lawyers and all-white juries used the justice system to keep blacks in "their place"--but it's happening today. The families of these young men are fighting back, but the odds are stacked against them. Together, we can make sure their story is told, that this becomes an issue for the Governor of Louisiana, and that justice is provided for the Jena 6. It starts now. Please add your voice: http://www.colorofchange.org/jena/?id=2017-171620 

The noose-hanging incident and the DA's visit to the school set the stage for everything that followed. Racial tension escalated over the next couple of months, and on November 30, the main academic building of Jena High School was burned down in an unsolved fire. Later the same weekend, a black student was beaten up by white students at a party. The next day, black students at a convenience store were threatened by a young white man with a shotgun. They wrestled the gun from him and ran away. While no charges were filed against the white man, the students were arrested for the theft of the gun.2

That Monday at school, a white student, who had been a vocal supporter of the students who hung the nooses, taunted the black student who was beaten up at the off-campus party and allegedly called several black students "nigger." After lunch, he was knocked down, punched and kicked by black students. He was taken to the hospital but was released and was well enough to go to a social event that evening.3

Six Black Jena High students, Robert Bailey (17), Theo Shaw (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Mychal Bell (16) and an unidentified minor, were expelled from school, arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder. Bail was set so high -- between $70,000 and $138,000 -- that the boys were left in prison for months as families went deep into debt to release them.4

The first trial ended last month, and Mychal Bell, who has been in prison since December, was convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery (both felonies) by an all-white jury in a trial where his public defender called no witnesses. During his trial, Mychal's parents were ordered not to speak to the media and the court prohibited protests from taking place near the courtroom or where the judge could see them.

Mychal is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31st, and could go to jail for 22 years.5 Theo Shaw's trial is next. He will finally make bail this week.

The Jena Six are lucky to have parents and loved ones who are fighting tooth and nail to free them. They have been threatened but they are standing strong. We know that if the families have to go it alone, their sons will be a long time coming home. They will lose precious years to Jena's outrageous attempt to maintain a racist status quo. But if we act now, we can make a difference.

Please add your voice to the voices of these families in Jena, and help bring Mychal, Theo, Robert, Carwin, and Bryant home. By clicking below, you can demand that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco get involved to make sure that justice is served for Mychal Bell, and that DA Reed Walters drop the charges against the 5 boys who have not yet gone to trial. http://www.colorofchange.org/jena/?id=2017-171620 

Thank You and Peace,

James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, and the rest of the www.ColorOfChange.org  team

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References:

1. "Injustice in Jena as Nooses Hang From the ‘White Tree,'" truthout, July 3, 2007 http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/070307B.shtml 

2. "Racial demons rear heads," Chicago Tribune, May 20, 2007 http://tinyurl.com/yvh7t5 

3. See reference #1.

4. See reference #1.

5. "'Jena Six' defendant convicted," Town Talk, June 29, 2007 http://tinyurl.com/ysxtgg 

Other resources:

NPR: Searching for Justice in Jena 6 Case (streaming audio) http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11756302 

Democracy Now! - The case of the Jena Six ...  http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/07/10/1413220  

Too Sense: Free The Jena Six Now http://halfricanrevolution.blogspot.com/2007/07/free-jena-six-now.html 

While Seated: Jena Six http://www.whileseated.org/photo/003244.shtml 

Nooses, attacks and jail for black students in Jena Louisiana http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/6/28/144445/384 

Justice In Jena, by Jordan Flaherty http://www.zmag.org/content/print_article.cfm?itemID=12783&sectionID=30 

The Perpetrator becomes the Prosecutor (and other related entries) http://friendsofjustice.wordpress.com/blog/ 

'Stealth racism' stalks deep South http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/this_world/6685441.stm 

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Jena 6 Response

Contact@GOV.STATE.LA.US

Dear:

Your email to Governor Kathleen Blanco regarding the Jena Six case has been forwarded to me for a response.  Your input and concerns are vital as we make critical decisions to move this state forward.  The Jena 6 case is a matter in the Judicial System and any defects must be addressed in that system with the appeals court.  The State Constitution provides for three branches of state government - Legislative, Executive, and Judicial - and the Constitution prohibits anyone in one branch from exercising the powers of anyone in another branch.  Certainly, the Governor hopes for and expects fairness.

 Thank you for emailing and if this office can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Sincerely,

Cheryl Shuffield, Director

Constituent Services

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White Tree Chopped Down

One weekend last December, two Black students were beaten by a group of White students. Later, a group of Black students were threatened with a shotgun by a White former student. Whites were not punished for the noose incident or these other incidents, but the following Monday when a White student was beaten up by Black students in a schoolyard fight, six Black students, the Jena Six, were arrested and charged with attempted murder. Protesters yesterday came from as far away as New York, California, Florida and Chicago, with large delegations from Houston, Lake Charles, Monroe, Lafayette and New Orleans.

43,000 signatures on a petition written calling for District Attorney Reed Walters to drop all charges were delivered, and protesters rallied outside the courthouse and marched through downtown Jena. Jena town officials have no comment, but this week the school board had the notorious tree chopped down.

Source: Seeing Black.com
 

*   *   *   *   *

On July 31st, more than 300 people came from around the country to stand with the families of the Jena 6.

It was quite a scene for Jena.  We rallied in front of the courthouse and marched through the city, but perhaps the most intense moment was when a group of six supporters, led by a Jena 6 family member, walked through a line of sheriff's deputies into the District Attorney's office, to deliver stacks of petitions representing the demands of more than 43,000 of you that District Attorney Reed Walters drop the charges against the five students still waiting to be tried.

It was a tense and powerful moment.  Black folks don't confront power like this in Jena, and certainly not with hundreds of people of every color supporting them.  From the looks on the faces of the sheriff's deputies and other officials in the court house, it was clear they got the message--it is no longer business as usual in Jena and their racist attack on these young men will not be allowed to stand.

We also know we're making an impact on Governor Blanco.  She finally started responding to the more than 60,000 emails ColorOfChange members have sent.  Her condescending and insulting response--claiming she's powerless to intervene and failing even to condemn the egregious injustice that's taking place--was clearly an attempt to back away from the issue completely.  We're not going to let that happen.

You can help build momentum and keep the heat on Governor Blanco, by spreading the word and asking your friends and family to get involved. You can find a brief letter to send them here: http://www.colorofchange.org/jena/thanks.html

Our impact has also been felt by the families of the Jena Six.  Your support for their sons  “in person, and in spirit” gives them energy and strength to continue their struggle for justice.  Concretely, ColorOfChange members have raised over $70,000 to provide legal support for the Jena 6.  It's critical that these young men get representation from exceptional lawyers; even if they find pro bono counsel, they are likely to incur $30-50 thousand each in expenses. To help, visit the following link. Every penny goes directly to the legal defense of the Jena 6.  You can contribute by credit card, PayPal, or check. http://www.colorofchange.org/jena_fund

We are planning on-the-ground events on or around September 20th, the new date set for Mychal Bell's sentencing.  In the next few weeks, we'll nail down the dates and locations.  Until then, please keep the Jena 6 in your thoughts and do what you can to let others know about the situation.

The road ahead for the Jena 6 is not likely to be short.  But together, with a little persistence and some decent smarts, we can help them win.  Moments like these--where the law and government oversight fail us--help us remember that our ability to survive and protect our children comes down to building a community of support. We are so grateful to have the opportunity to do this work, and so thankful that you are part of this community.

Thank You and Peace,

James, Van, Gabriel, Clarissa, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team

posted 18 July 2007   /

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake. She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—WashingtonPost

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

*   *   *   *   *

Disintegration: The Splintering of Black America

By Eugene Robinson

In this clear-eyed and compassionate study, Robinson (Coal to Cream), Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist for the Washington Post, marshals persuasive evidence that the African-American population has splintered into four distinct and increasingly disconnected entities: a small elite with enormous influence, a mainstream middle-class majority, a newly emergent group of recent immigrants from Africa and the Caribbean, and an abandoned minority "with less hope of escaping poverty than at any time since Reconstruction's end." Drawing on census records, polling data, sociological studies, and his own experiences growing up in a segregated South Carolina college town during the 1950s, Robinson explores 140 years of black history in America, focusing on how the civil rights movement, desegregation, and affirmative action contributed to the fragmentation. Of particular interest is the discussion of how immigrants from Africa, the "best-educated group coming to live in the United States," are changing what being black means. Robinson notes that despite the enormous strides African-Americans have made in the past 40 years, the problems of poor blacks remain more intractable than ever, though his solution--"a domestic Marshall Plan aimed at black America"--seems implausible in this era of cash-strapped state and local governments.—Publishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 11 April 2012

 

 

 

Home  Literary New Orleans   Film Review  Katrina Flood Index  Criminalizing a Race: Blacks and Prisons Table  

Related files: Nooses and a legal lynching in Jena, Louisiana    K-Ville (TV Show Review)  Jena Ignites a Movement  World Social Forum Diary  Notes from Inside New Orleans  Fifth Anniversary of Katrina  

Media Crisis and Grassroots Response  Strange Fruit in Jena