Thursday, October 14, 2010

Jena Six

Back in 2006, there was a civil rights related issue that occurred in a small town by the name of Jena, Louisiana. At the time the issue received a great deal of media attention as the story became more and more complex. What happened was that at the school there was a tree that was often referred to as the ‘white tree’ as it was a common place where the white students of the school would go and hang out. The controversy started when a black student sat under the tree one day, only to find the next day that some students had hanged nooses from one of the tree’s branches. This began a whole series of events that caught the attention of civil rights activists and began several months of racial tension at the school and across the town. Later on in the year, six African American students attempted to enter a party in the town only to be denied admission. Also it was reported that several white students came out and started a fight which was broken up by bystanders. The issue then reached the breaking point when the six African American students attacked one of the white students at school that had fought them at the party earlier. The victim of the attack did go to the hospital but only with minor injuries. What happened next caused a great deal of outrage. The six students who attacked the white student at school were then charged with attempted murder for their attack. While none of the students involved in this incident, white or black, is innocent it is ridiculous to charge the six with attempted murder. If it was not for the outcry from civil rights activists this injustice might have actually gone through. However due to the amount of pressure that was placed on the judicial system there, the charges were eventually reduced to suite the crime. While injustice was originally in place here, this event does show the progress that has been made from the civil rights movement. If this event had happened in 1950 it could be almost guaranteed that all six students would have been convicted of attempted murder. However it is also an issue that the African American students were the only ones charged, while the white students who fought them at the party, and who supposedly also sent a student to the hospital, were allowed to walk free. Progress has indeed been made, but there is always room for improvement.

1 comment:

  1. WOW! That's crazy! In addition to the fight, I think it is unacceptable that the students would hang nooses from the tree; perhaps symbolism that they still think of African Americans as many did prior to the Civil Rights Movement. Lynchings haven't occurred in so long that I can't believe these students would revert to that as a means to show their racism. Wow.