By Alan Bean
This is the third excerpt from a speech delivered on the campus of the University of Chicago. Part one can be found here two can be found here.
The New Jim Crow comes to Jena, Louisiana
In 1991, the same year Larry Stewart was elected Sheriff of Swisher County, Texas, J. Reed Walters became District Attorney of LaSalle Parish in north central Louisiana, winning 52% of the vote. David Duke, the former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon who ran for governor that year, carried 70% of the vote in the parish, his best showing in Louisiana. Since the LaSalle Parish electorate is 86% white, this suggests that an unapologetic racist won over 80% of the white vote that year.
In 2008, 85.5% of LaSalle Parish voters supported John McCain; a likely indication that Barack Obama received zero support from white voters.
When Reed Walters passed his bar exams in 1980, Speedy O. Long was still District Attorney. Long took the young attorney under his wing and taught him the ropes. When Speedy went to his reward in 2005, Reed Walters called him a friend and mentor. (more…)