"Southern trees bear strange fruit, Blood on the leaves and blood at the root"
- Lewis Allan (Abel Meeropol)
-tshirt image courtesy of Glenn Bracey
September 20, 2007
Nationwide protests today bring a new generation of activists into the ongoing fight against entrenched racist power structures in the U.S. The "Jena 6" are accused of conspiring to murder a white high school classmate (who spent a total of 3 hours in an emergency room as a result of his injuries). These six young men--Robert Bailey, Theo Shaw, Carwin Jones, Bryant Purvis, Mychal Bell, and Jesse Beard--were in fact responding to a racially-charged tensions in the small Louisiana town of Jena (pronounced gee-na)that heightened after two black students had the audacity to sit under "the white tree" on school grounds for lunch.
The following day, several nooses were found hanging from the tree, an all-too-clear message from white students intent on preserving the Jim Crow privilege of their favorite eating spot. When black students protested the hateful display, District Attorney Reed Walters threatened, "I could end your lives with the stroke of a pen."
When a white student continued to taunt black students, a fight ensued and D.A. Walters got a chance to make good on his threat. Perhaps saddest of all is that even if "justice is served" and the young men are exonerated, the damage is incalculable. Mychal Bell, the young man whose conviction is currently under review stands to lose out on his pick of college scholarships. Worse still is the hard lesson these young men have had to learn at such an early age that the system is stacked against them. The thousands of people who are traveling to be a part of the protest illustrate that the problems these young men face aren't unique, but in fact systematic oppression still occurs and has mobilized the next Hero Generation.
Visit the following sites for more information and to support the defense efforts of these young men: