September 12, 2007

Support Jena 6: WEAR ALL BLACK on September 20

UPDATE: Click here to see videos of the Jena, LA protest!

The lives of six young black men are being ruined by Jim Crow justice in Jena, Louisiana.

Community activists, concerned citizens and The AfroSpear will descend on Jena next week in protest of the barbaric felony charges filed on the Jena Six. It is estimated that up to 50,000 people will arrive in Jena 6 intent on having the charges reduced from felonies to misdemeanors, so these students can go back to school and not to jail. The destination of the protestors on September 20 will be on the steps of LaSalle Parish courthouse where Mychal Bell, 17, will receive his sentence. Take a moment to read the full story from The Washington Times.

We can help turn things around by making it a political liability for the authorities of Jena to continue the racist status quo, and by forcing the Governor of Louisiana to intervene. It is stunning to note that Gov. Kathleen Blanco continues to display stubborn and stupidity in her handling of this matter. She refuses to display leadership. Barack Obama spoke out on the Jena 6. Hilary Clinton and John Edwards issued statements a little later. The republican candidates won't even speak to African Americans at political debates ... so we are not surprised that they ignore the groundswell of anger and protest over the Jena 6.

Now the situation flows into this growing protest movement. Hopefully, Gov. Blanco will provide security for the 50,000 visitors to Jena, LA. After all, we already know that the District Attorney has refused to protect the rights of Jena's Black population and has turned the police and courts into instruments of intimidation and oppression.

Villagers, I'm going to pull out my black dress shirt and black pin-stripe suit that morning. How do you plan to show your support of the Jena 6 on September 20? Will you WEAR ALL BLACK on that day? Will you be able to travel to Jena, LA on that day? What say u?


Muze said...

i want to go so badly. but time and money aren't allowing me. i will be in my black though.

Unknown said...

Muze - I'm feelin' ya. We each must do what we can to support the effort. We're blessed in that we have a blog to express ourselves to a world wide (web) audience. Hopefully, the pressure will cause the Jena politicians to do the right thing.

peace, Villager

JD said...

My brother, I will wear black and have linked back to your post from blackinbusiness. I think I will wear a suit, black shirt and maybe a black tie, with black cowboy boots!

David McQueen said...

I hope it has the same effect as the earlier Shaquanda case. Those of us over the sea will be supporting in spirit.

Derrick said...

I got my black Jena 6 T-shirt at a local rally we had last night in Nashville.

Are you going to Jena Villager? I'll be there.

I know people like Jessie Jackson are throwing out some gaudy numbers like 40 and 50 thousand the last couple of days, but I see no evidence to support such numbers.

Unknown said...

James - I'm scared of those cowboy boots! Did you see the good news from the court today re: Mychal's conviction being overturned?

David - Asante sana! I think that the pressure is already being felt by the Jena politicians. One of the convictions was overturned this afternoon!

Yobachi - I will not be there in person. I will WEAR ALL BLACK on Sept 20 to show my support ... black shirt; black tie; no cowboy boots (smile)

peace, Villager

Anonymous said...

I can not be there, but I have sent myself an email to remind me to wear my black on Thursday. Will also send email to dozens of others to do likewise. We can draw much attention to the Jena 6 by joining together in this simple demonstration. More power to those who make the sacrifice to travel!

Anonymous said...

I can not travel, but I will wear all Black and have sent an email to myself as a reminder. I will share that email with dozens of others. I admire those who will make the sacrifice to travel and I am sure media will cover that. I pray that all across the country the rest of us will be in our all-Black so that co-workers, schoolmates,those in the churches, the banks, the hospitals, depart-ment stores, gas stations ... wherever we go that day will see and wonder and come out and join these demonstrations for justice.
We CAN make a difference. Let's get out there Thursday, Sept 20th!

Unknown said...

Iya - Thank you for agreeing to support the WEAR ALL BLACK protest on Sept 20.

peace, Omo

Anonymous said...

Is it true out of all the people called for jury duty for Bell's trial, NOT ONE BLACK SHOWED UP!?!

According to the rolls there were quite a number of blacks that did not feel it was their duty to show up for jury duty.

Could that be the reason no blacks were on the jury? Sounds like those blacks should be held responsible.

Thank God for Jesse Jackson. I'm sure he will hold the blacks responsible that did not show up for jury duty!!!!

The Alexandria Daily Town Talk was quite clear about the fact the reason there were no blacks on the jury was because they ALL shirked their duty.

It is quite apparent in the eyes of those supporting the Jena 6 it is perfectly ok to commit a crime if your skin is black.

Scott Peterson should have grabbed some shoe polish before he killed his wife and unborn child, then he would have been set free like OJ Simpson.

Unknown said...

Anon - The jury pool included 60 people -- all white. I'm not certain if Black citizens in the town were invited to participate or not.

I'm uncertain why you think that Scott Peterson's situation should be considered in a discussion about six teenagers. They shouldn't have fought with those other kids ... but, 22-years in prison for a school yard fight seems unreasonable to me. Doesn't it seem unreasonable to you?

peace, Villager

Anonymous said...

I will be supporting my people by wearing all black that day, but I have two children in private school who would also like to wear black but can't. I heard some people will be wearing a purple ribbon. I made this suggestion to my kids, but if anyone know of anything different please let me know.

Unknown said...

Tonya - I haven't heard about purple ribbons. My suggestion is that J and E'lah wear black ribbon instead.

peace, Villager

T. S. Snowden said...

I tried to arrange to go to Louisiana but couldnt! I am wearing black today and running my mouth about it on and offline!

Unknown said...

Femigog - Support from each of us is important however we can show it. Stay strong... peace, Villager

Anonymous said...

Me and my homies couldn't make it out to Jena, nice push to finally do that long-delayed road trip but right now, just not happenin'. But we are *all* in all-Black, and lookin' damn fine in it. If nothin' else, besides standing in solidarity with the Jena Six, this has awakened a true sartorial flair in all of us that Black really is *the* color of fashion no matter what the hunnies on the runway are sportin'. Black is where it's at!

The white racists are quaking in their boots b/c they know that African-Americans, Muslims and other people of color will soon be the majority in Michigan and in Deep South states such as Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. And it burns them up.

Already, we're seeing more and more African-Americans and Muslims (most of us Muslims here also African-American) leave states where we're dispersed and powerless-- states like Wisconsin, West Virginia (we *know* what happens to us in West Virginia as those white thugs recently showed), Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Florida, Idaho, Oregon, Arizona, Texas, New Mexico, Iowa, Delaware and California where we're badly outnumbered and too weak-- to move to Michigan, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and some parts of Illinois, where we have a strong historical presence and enough of a demographic status to become the majority within a decade.

Dispersion is the enemy, and so long as we stay dispersed, we'll continue to be pushed around. There's strength in numbers, and concentrating ourselves in these states, our historical core, is the key to gaining a majority and resulting political control. And when we have political control there, we'll no longer have to put up with being treated like dirt, humiliated, being second-class citizens in states where we've lived for so many centuries. We'll be able to stand up and tell the white racists that they don't own us, support our own businesses and finally earn for ourselves the respect we have long deserved. I'm proud that the African-Americans of Louisiana and throughout the nation are converging to help the Jena Six like this, we need to see more of this solidarity.

Unknown said...

Hamid - Asante sana for sharing your analysis of the situation and providing a potential alternative solution. Johnny Cash made a lot of money on the all black wardrobe!

peace, Villager

Anonymous said...

As I've been watching and reading the coverage... the long-awaited coverage... of the Jena Six situation, I cannot help but feel angered at my former profession, the "media".
First, it's covered this travesty in Louisiana far too little, and covered Paris, Lindsey, Brittney, and OJ far too much... in my humble opinion.
Now, when the "media" does cover the marches and vigils... and NOT the story itself, it is leaving out some crucial facts to the story.
Please read the following Chicago Tribune story, dated May 20, 2007. And, note the facts about the white kid beating the black kid and the white man pulling a gun on three black students that the "media" is now evading, overlooking, and/or simply leaving out to, in my humble opinion, "craft" the essence of the story of the Jena Six:

Racial Demons Rear Heads

Howard Witt
Senior Tribune Correspondent
reposted from

The trouble in Jena started with the nooses. Then it rumbled along the town's jagged racial fault lines. Finally, it exploded into months of violence between blacks and whites. Now the 3,000 residents of this small lumber and oil town deep in the heart of central Louisiana are confronting Old South racial demons many thought had long ago been put to rest.

One morning last September, students arrived at the local high school to find three hangman's nooses dangling from a tree in the courtyard.

The tree was on the side of the campus that, by long-standing tradition, had always been claimed by white students, who make up more than 80 percent of the 460 students. But a few of the school's 85 black students had decided to challenge the accepted state of things and asked school administrators if they, too, could sit beneath the tree's cooling shade.

"Sit wherever you want," school officials told them. The next day, the nooses were hanging from the branches.

African-American students and their parents were outraged and intimidated by the display, which instantly summoned memories of the mob lynchings that once terrorized blacks across the American South. Three white students were quickly identified as being responsible, and the high school principal recommended that they be expelled.

"Hanging those nooses was a hate crime, plain and simple," said Tracy Bowens, a black mother of two students at the high school who protested the incident at a school board meeting.

But Jena's white school superintendent, Roy Breithaupt, ruled that the nooses were just a youthful stunt and suspended the students for three days, angering blacks who felt harsher punishments were justified.

"Adolescents play pranks," said Breithaupt, the superintendent of the LaSalle Parish school system. "I don't think it was a threat against anybody."

Yet it was after the noose incident that the violent, racially charged events that are still convulsing Jena began.

First, a series of fights between black and white students erupted at the high school over the nooses. Then, in late November, unknown arsonists set fire to the central wing of the school, which still sits in ruins. Off campus, a white youth beat up a black student who showed up at an all-white party. A few days later, another young white man pulled a shotgun on three black students at a convenience store.

Finally, on Dec. 4, a group of black students at the high school allegedly jumped a white student on his way out of the gym, knocked him unconscious and kicked him after he hit the floor. The victim -- allegedly targeted because he was a friend of the students who hung the nooses and had been taunting blacks -- was not seriously injured and spent only a few hours in the hospital.

But the LaSalle Parish district attorney, Reed Walters, opted to charge six black students with attempted second-degree murder and other offenses, for which they could face a maximum of 100 years in prison if convicted. All six were expelled from school.

To the defendants, their families and civil rights groups that have examined the events, the attempted murder charges brought by a white prosecutor are excessive and part of a pattern of uneven justice in the town.

The critics note, for example, that the white youth who beat the black student at the party was charged only with simple battery, while the white man who pulled the shotgun at the convenience store wasn't charged with any crime at all. But the three black youths in that incident were arrested and accused of aggravated battery and theft after they wrestled the weapon from the man -- in self-defense, they said.

"There's been obvious racial discrimination in this case," said Joe Cook, executive director of the Louisiana chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, who described Jena as a "racial powder keg" primed to ignite. "It appears the black students were singled out and targeted in this case for some unusually harsh treatment."

That's how the mother of one of the defendants sees things as well.

"They are sending a message to the white kids, 'You have committed this hate crime, you were taunting these black children, and we are going to allow you to continue doing what you are doing,'" said Caseptla Bailey, mother of Robert Bailey Jr.

Bailey, 17, is caught up in several of the Jena incidents, as both a victim and alleged perpetrator. He was the black student who was beaten at the party, and he was among the students arrested for allegedly grabbing the shotgun from the man at the convenience store. And he's one of the six students charged with attempted murder for the Dec. 4 attack.

The district attorney declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this story. But other white leaders insist there are no racial tensions in the community, which is 85 percent white and 12 percent black.

"Jena is a place that's moving in the right direction," said Mayor Murphy McMillan. "Race is not a major local issue. It's not a factor in the local people's lives."

Still others, however, acknowledge troubling racial undercurrents in a town where only 16 years ago white voters cast most of their ballots for David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan leader who ran unsuccessfully for Louisiana governor.

"I've lived here most of my life, and the one thing I can state with absolutely no fear of contradiction is that LaSalle Parish is awash in racism -- true racism," a white Pentecostal preacher, Eddie Thompson, wrote in an essay he posted on the Internet. "Here in the piney woods of central Louisiana ... racism and bigotry are such a part of life that most of the citizens do not even recognize it."

The lone black member of the school board agrees.

"There's no doubt about it -- whites and blacks are treated differently here," said Melvin Worthington, who was the only school board member to vote against expelling the six black students charged in the beating case. "The white kids should have gotten more punishment for hanging those nooses. If they had, all the stuff that followed could have been avoided."

And the troubles at the high school are not over yet.

On May 10, police arrested Justin Barker, 17, the white victim of the Dec. 4 beating. He was alleged to have a rifle loaded with 13 bullets stashed behind the seat of his pickup truck parked in the school lot. Barker told police he had forgotten it was there and had no intention of using it.

PLEASE, make sure that you get the word out... ALL OF THE WORD OUT... to people who need to know the TRUTH.