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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Jena 6 Day of Action: September 20th

Hello Jim Crow... how you doing?

Something foul is wafting through the Louisiana bayou and it’s not just the fetid stench of a mold-riddled New Orleans. This, my friends, is a story that takes place in a small town called Jena. It starts with about 200 years of history and ends with 200 years of criminal injustice. It has to do with civil rights, human rights, activism and a community refusing to let the weight of apathy and bigotry hold it down.

I’m writing this today because tomorrow is a Day of Action in Solidarity with the Jena Six. The organizers expects as many as 60,000 people from more than 30 cities to attend the protest in Jena.

For those unfamiliar with the story, there's a quick and dirty outline below. For an informed look the case, take a look at this transcript from Democracy Now or this Wiki entry.

Last fall, two black students sat underneath the “white tree” on the Jena high school campus. A few white students responded by hanging nooses from the tree. The black students demanded that the noose setters be expelled from school. When it became clear that the administration was not going to punish the responsible students, more black students sat underneath the tree, in protest.

As sometimes happens in the wake of civil disobedience, violence followed. Racial tension that had been bubbling under the surface in this small town of 3,000 (with an 85% white population), erupted. Black and white youth were at each others throats. Attack, retaliate, attack. The fateful beating that landed six young African American men in jail for what could be up to 100 years each, landed one young white man in the hospital for less than a day.

Unfortunately, being threatened with a punishment so ill-fitting the crime is not so unusual in black communities. So, why has this case attracted so much attention? I can only imagine that the people who marched thorough the streets of Selma must be wondering what the hell happened.

Have civil rights, human rights, sexual rights really advanced in the past 30 years?

Or have we just gotten better at masking the –isms. And than the ‘white tree’ grows a noose, and that theory falls apart.

I guess the old adage is true: those who don’t know the past are condemned to repeat it. But why repeat what doesn’t work. Do we need to create our own version of the civil rights movement? Feminism? Class warfare? The Anti-war movement? And if we do, sign me up. I want to be on the frontlines this time ‘round.

So, once again, if you’re close to Jena, there will be a day of action there tomorrow.

If you can’t make it to Jena, do not fret. You can always participate locally. Indymedia usually has a great calendar with these types of events.

Here in SF, there is an action at Market Street at 4th Street at 4pm

You can download fliers and info from Color of Change


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