Category: Uncategorized

After ignoring Jena, NYTimes gives Reed Walters a pulpit

The New York Times didn’t cover the Jena story until they were faced with a protest so big that they had to put it on the front page. But now, apparently they can find the space for this disingenuous screed from Reed Walters, the D.A. responsible for the Jena debacle.

Reed Walters complains that hanging nooses is no excuse to jump a white boy. But he conveniently leaves out his own shameful role in fanning the flames of racial unrest in Jena. He neglects to tell America how he also refused to protect Jena’s black youth from a series of attacks by white youth, in the days leading up to the attack on Justin Barker. He neglects to mention how a black youth was assaulted by a gang of white youth at a party, and how another white high school graduate threatened black youth with a shotgun outside a convenience store. This is the critical information we need to understand the attack on Justin Barker–it was the mirror image of a similar attack by white youth on a single, defenseless black youth that weekend. Except Reed Walters didn’t punish all the participants in that attack. Apparently some young people are worth more than others.

New York Times, now you need to publish a rebuttal from Friends of Justice that holds Reed Walters responsible for Jena’s racial unrest.

Also in the New York Times is an interesting commentary by Paul Krugman, connecting Jena to the Republican’s problem with race–i.e., having built their power by scapegoating people of color, they are now having trouble meaningfully campaigning for the vote of all Americans, especially our country’s growing ranks of Hispanic voters. Interesting…although Krugman is wrong to associate Jena only with the vestiges of Old Southern racism. Black youth are denied due process across America, not just in small Southern towns like Jena. So the problem is just as bad in Boston, MA as it is in Jena, Louisiana or Tulia, Texas. Talking from friends who minister in low-income black communities in Boston, it’s painfully obvious that the New Jim Crow is a national problem. That’s why Friends of Justice sticks to our guns on this point: Jena is America.

Why the “liberal” media doesn’t get Jena

I read this scathing denunciation of the GOP from a hotel room in Washington, DC. I appreciate the fact that Bob Herbert has finally directed his attention to the Jena story, even if he merely uses it as what columnists call a “media hook”. Herbert could have brought the Jena story to the attention of mainstream, liberal America months ago, but he chose not to. (Herbert, some of you may recall, set a fire under the Tulia story with a string of columns in 2002). In fact, the New York Times virtually ignored this story until it got so big they had to put it on the front page. This is tragic because, thanks to Randy Credico and the Kunstler Fund for Racial Justice, the New York Times brought the Tulia story to national attention two years before Mr. Herbert’s influential work.

For several weeks now, I have been doing an average of two interviews a day on the Jena mess. Yesterday, I was talking to a radio talk show host in DC while I settled into my seat on the plane–the interview ended when the pilot told us to kill our cell phones. Everybody wants to know why the mainstream, allegedly “liberal” media has been so slow to pick up on Jena. Howard Witt of the Chicago Tribune and CNN are blessed exceptions, but, as a general rule, the big boys and girls of the Fourth Estate fumbled this story badly. How come?

The answer is obvious: at first glance, this is a story about six black guys beating the crap out of a white guy. The Jena saga begins with a graphic and rivetting image: nooses dangling from a “white tree”; but it ends with lurid photographs of Justin Barker’s swollen eyes. That’s not an image white Americans (be they ever so liberal) like to promote.

Solidarity vigils across the US

Posted by Lydia Bean

Apparently, all the cell phones in Jena aren’t working right now, so we can’t get an update from our Friends of Justice representatives at the protest in Jena! So until we hear from them, let me share some news about the solidarity vigils in other parts of the country. If you go to the “Reach Out” page on our website and post your reflections on your local vigil, I’ll compile them and post them to the blog.

Here’s my report from Boston, MA: I helped organize a solidarity vigil in Cambridge with two other young women, Gretchen Segars and Manikka Bowman. It was such a blessing to be there, and to meet so many people who are passionate about justice for all our nation’s youth. People came from all different ages and walks of life. There was a group of folks from Harvard University, and even a few people who were involved with the union struggle there this year. I was so pleased to meet a young group of college students from Brandeis, who had come all the way out here on the train to be at this vigil. I met seasoned activists who taught us old protest songs, and I met young people who were stepping up for the first time to protest injustice.

We started in Harvard Square, and marched up to the Cambridge City Hall. To the embarassment of the under-20 crowd, we sang several thousand verses of “This little light of mine”. Then–to their relief–we stopped singing and chanted a chant that we made on the spot, “Just Say No…to the New Jim Crow!” As we walked down Massachusetts Avenue, we got a few strange looks from passersby. But then other people started cheering out of their cars, and some cars even laid on their horns as they passed by to show support! (more…)

Jena on Sojourner’s Blog

Lydia Bean posted this reflection on the protests in Jena on the blog “God’s Politics.”  The piece asks why so many white Americans don’t understand what all the fuss is about, or even complain that the Jena 6 is just another incident of “black kids playing the race card to escape responsibility.”  The answer is that too many Americans see black youth only as a potential threat, not as a young person with potential.  White Americans have come to see justice as a zero-sum game, because black youth have been so demonized in our culture that we no longer see them as “our” young citizens in need of protection and support.  We need to change that “us vs. them” mentality, and take responsibility for protecting black youth from racial threats, violence, and injustice in the courts.  America needs a transformed moral imagination.

Texas Supports Jena Six

Get on the Bus to Jena!

972-228-7282 /

Contact Us



Get on the Bus Hotline:


Purchase Bus Tickets Online:



Free Jena 6


Here’s your chance to make a difference and stand for something!

Join Texans from across the DFW Metroplex in a caravan of buses going to Jena, Louisiana to participate in the Peace & Protest rally to demand justice for the Jena Six.

Call the Get on the Bus Hotline to RSVP your seat TODAY, 972-228-7282 if you are paying in cash. Rnline,, if you are paying with a credit card. Roundtrip tickets range from $30-65 and are available on a first come basis. RSVP TODAY!!

Get on the Bus RSVP Deadline: Monday, Sept. 17

Traveler’s Information Meeting Sunday, Sept. 16 at 3:00 PM

A very important information meeting will be held for all travelers participating in the Texas Supports Jena Six caravan to Jena, LA. The meeting will be held at Friendship West (2020 Wheatland Rd. — Choir Room) at 3:00 PM on Sunday, September 16. Travelers will receive departure location, instructions and additional travel details. We anticipate loading the buses at 10 PM on Wednesday September 19 and returning to the metroplex no later than 10 PM, Thursday, September 20.

Special thanks to the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, Friendship West Baptist Church, Camp Wisdom United Methodist Church, St. Paul United Methodist Church, and St. Luke Community United Methodist Church for responding to our call to action and participating in this Journey to Jena!

We hope you can join us in Jena but if you cannot attend you can still support in one of the following ways:

  • Donate to Friends of Justice, the civil rights organization which broke the Jena story to the national media. Friends of Justice organizes in communities across Texas and Louisiana to hold our criminal justice system accountable to our nation’s highest values. They’re the group responsible for recruiting media coverage for the Jena 6, and your donations will cover their costs and keep them fighting! Donate online here or send donations to: 3415 Ainsworth Court, Arlington TX 76016.
  • Donate to the Jena 6 Defense fund: or mail donations to: Jena 6 Defense Committee, P.O. Box 2798, Jena, LA 71342.
  • Sign petition to end this injustice —
  • Write a heart felt letter of support directly to Mychal Bell, Inmate, A-Dorm, LaSalle Correctional Center, 15976 Highway 165, Olla, LA 71465-4801.

No Justice. No Peace.

Texas Supports Jena Six


 DFW Citywide Rally

Wednesday, September 19th at 6:00 PM

Can’t go to Jena? Show your support by joining the DFW Citywide Prayer Meeting & Rally on Wednesday, September 19th at 6 PM. St. Luke Community United Methodist Church, 5710 East RL Thorton Freeway (I-30 East), Dallas, TX 75223. 214-821-2970. Offering proceeds go to Jena 6 Defense Fund.

Don’t Know Anyone?

If you would like to catch a ride to Jena, Louisiana to participate in the September 20th Peace & Protest Rally and do NOT know of any groups to travel with, please send an email to and someone will try to connect you with others coming from your area.

Hold a Vigil in your Community!

Many people are holding vigils this Sept. 20th, to show solidarity with the Jena 6 and demand a criminal justice system that truly serves all our children.

If you want to organize a vigil in YOUR community, feel free to adapt this flier that we designed for a rally in Cambridge, MA:

Sample flier for Jena 6 Vigil

Just download this Word document, fill in your location and your contact info, and get the word out!  (Make sure you apply for any permits that the law requires.)  Feel free to change the text–this is just an example.  Many thanks to Gretchen Segars, who designed this flier with Lydia Bean.

Ambassadors for Common Peace

Here’s a great movement to bring the Hip Hop generation into the fight for civil rights.  Fathers for the Future is launching an initiative called “Ambassadors for Common Peace”, described at


A delegation from the Hip Hop activist community will serve as Ambassadors for Common Peace at the September 20th, 2007 protest rally of the Jena 6 trial in Jena, Louisiana. Mr. J. Michael Carr Jr. of the Fathers for the Future Foundation (FFF) and Troy Nkrumah of the National Hip Hop Political Convention (NHHPC) will lead a delegation of young people to Jena to monitor, mediate, and demonstrate for the justice of the six young youth who are on trial and unless justice is served could spend the decades in prison. This delegation will also include over 10 young lawyers from around the country who will work as legal observers to ensure that the constitutional rights of the demonstrators are not violated by law enforcement.


Invited by the “Friends of Justice”, the actual organization to first break the Jena 6 story to the Chicago Tribune and BBC in December 2006, the Ambassadors For Common Peace will work to promote civility and goodwill at the mobilization in Jena, LA. It is the belief of the Hip Hop community that this is one of the most salient racial trials since the Rodney King verdict in 1992 and has the potential to repeat the disastrous outcome if justice is not met for the defendants. This one trail has the potential to set back race relations and delegitimize the current strides made in the fight for racial justice, thus furthering the heightened racial tensions.  (more…)

Howard University students for the Jena 6

For the past several weeks Howard University students in Washington D.C. have been meeting to organize events in defense of the Jena 6. Students representing the range of Student Government organizations, and activist groups on campus such as Amnesty International, the NAACP, and the ANSWER Coalition, have begun making plans for activities beginning close to the start of the school year. On Sept. 5th, students will be holding a rally/forum, to raise awareness on campus about the Jena 6 case, this forum will also be preceded by intensive outreach activities, to maximize awareness on the case. Student activists plan to follow this rally with a series of events, as well as a fund raiser, T-shirts and other promotional material is being prepared, the message from the Howard University student body, to the rest of this country, will be Free the Jena 6!