The song, recorded in 1939, was written and sang to raise awareness about the lynch-mob killings of mostly black men that occurred in the early days of Jim Crow. Sadly, the song still rings true 68 years later.
For those folks who haven’t heard, there is a major violation of civil rights going on in Jena, La. Six black (or African American, which ever you prefer) high school students were charged with attempted second degree murder that stemmed from several racially motivated altercations.
To bring you up to speed, a black student asked a school official if he could sit under the “white tree.” The school official told the student that he could sit anywhere he wanted. The following day, three nooses, painted in the school colors mind you, hung from that very tree.
The responsible students were identified and expelled by the school principal. The school board overturned the expulsion calling it a prank. Students staged a sit in under the tree that was attended by the district attorney who allegedly informed the students that he could take away their lives “with the stroke of a pen.”
To give you the abbreviated version of this story, a main building at the school burned, a black student was beaten at a “white party” by what should be considered a mob of white people.
The assaulted student, who was with friends, ran into one of his assailants at a convenience store. An altercation broke out and the assailant pulled out a gun, the students took it from him and turned it in to police. They were arrested for theft of a firearm.
Two days later, one white kid taunted a group of black kids with racial slurs. I’m sure we all know what they were - they lost their cool and promptly beat him down.
Fast forward to now, six students were charged with attempted second degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
One of the students, Mychal (pronounced Michael) Bell has already been tried convicted of the lesser charge of second degree battery. He faces a maximum sentence of 22 years.
First off – WOW!!! Secondly, since when is a school fight a second degree murder attempt? How come nobody was arrested for attempted second degree murder when the black kid was beaten up?
This is beyond ridiculous. It is high time that legal lynching is stopped in the South. I love the South, I always have but we have a soiled history that seems to be repeating itself in Louisiana.
A march on the courthouse is being planned for Sept. 20. I urge each and every person who can get there to do so. Those who have any sort of power, be it political or of the pen, to do your part in helping thwart this injustice.
George Santayana wrote in 1905, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
I am pleading with you, let’s not only remember our past, let’s be proactive in securing our future. Let's march, let's write letters, sign petitions, whatever we have to do to right this wrong.
FREE THE JENA 6!!!For more information on how to help, visit: http://www.colorofchange.org/jena/