Sept. 20,'07: Jena, Louisiana
Read and learn more. There are many web sites and youtube videos on the Jena Six.
Don't stay ignorant of our world.
|From left; Professors Annie Cole, Tony Clark, Mattie Moon, and Joe Meyer of the Los Angeles City College Social Science Department in Jena, Louisiana.|
|Some personal photos and thoughts from Joe Meyer. Some personal photos and thoughts by Joe Meyer|
4am on September 20, the four of us left Natchez to drive to Jena. We had flown in on Wednesday to Jackson MS and drove to Natchez. We stayed at this motel. Notice the Confederate flag (white with the "Stars and Bars" in the upper left hand corner). Some whites in the south see the flag as "their heritage." It should be obvious to everyone how most African Americans feel about that.
This is a group of law students from North Carolina. There were many student organizations from around the country.
This is right before the start of the march. We were in the last line of eight people. It took nearly an hour for people, who had been lined up by eights, to file out of the park. Prof. Clark said this was the best organized rally/march he had ever been in.
It was over two miles from the park to downtown Jena.
The march into downtown Jena.
Notice the busses? I counted 28 total busses in the park and on the streets. Many were diverted to a nearby town, Alexandria, LA. There is some disagreement in the media as to the numbers of people in the march. One Red Cross station told me they gave out all 19,000 water bottles they had during the march. Not everybody took a bottle. I guessed the total crowd in the park and march to be between 40 and 50 thousand people. Many others there that day agreed.
That's Prof. Clark near the court house.
It may sound trite, but I kept hearing people say how the youth need to understand how far African Americans have come, but also how far we all still have to travel to be the kind of nation Dr. Martin Luther King told us we could be. An America where one is judged not by the color of one's skin but by the content of one's character.
I was unable to get a picture of it, but several marchers flew American flags upside down, a sign of emergency distress. Make no mistake, we are in such times.
Also, many flew this flag:
If you don't know what it is, you have some reading to do, my friend.
As the old union saying goes: "Are we all in it?" The answer is, of course, yes, we are all in this life together. And as that famous American Ben Franklin (former slave owner) once allegedly said: "We must all hang together or we will most assuredly hang separately."
I'm not sure he knew how true those words would be in 21st century America.
We arrived at the Park at 5:30am and it was already set up for the tens of thousands of people that would move through it that day.
When we arrived at the park a state trooper told us there was no more parking and that we'd have to turn around and "park at the old Walmart" (about two miles away). Just a subtle way of saying "we don't want you here." Prof. Clark drove another 100 yards and found a woman renting parking spaces in her yard for $5.
Shortly after dawn, Rev. Jesse Jackson started giving interviews.
The rally started around 8am.
Rev. Jesse Jackson addresses the crowd.
This man is portraying a slave. His message, like many there, is that America still has a long way to go to be what it should be.
This is in front of the court house. Notice the speakers to the left and the line of troopers guarding the doors behind them.
There were over a hundred bikers who showed up. The black t-shirt with the with O were all over the rally. I was told the inside of the circle represented the six youths. The circle stood for their incarceration and wrongful prosecution and the black of the shirt represented everyone else who supports the Jena Six.
Among the bikers were a large group of "Buffalo Soldiers."
The town of Jena was closed: every shop, business and government office. Many homeowners had strung rope, tape or wire to keep people off their property. Other homeowners, Black and White, were supportive of the marchers.