The Battle Against Racism In Jena: A Sultry Day In History
edited: Tuesday, September 25, 2007
By Eddie Thompson
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Friday, September 21, 2007
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September 20, 2007 turned out to be one sultry day in history for the racial drama America still endures in its next generation. The author recaps the day with his own perspective.
As hundreds of buses meander through the highways and byways of America, bringing home a movement that overwhelmed a tiny little town in Jena, Louisiana, my hope is that they do not imagine that their mission is accomplished. We allowed them to borrow our town for the day to get in touch with previous generations of civil rights activists who battled for equal justice under the law. They listened at the feet of parents and grandparents who told tales of marches and freedom fights across the south: Now they have a story to tell their own children. The people of Jena were irrelevant to this movement. It wasn't about the so called "Jena Six" or their victim, Justin Barker, or the issues our little town face. This was about America and it's national sin of racism. This is about a generation of black youth who are trying to balance their past with their future, trying to find a niche in their long journey towards equality.
Doubtless, those marchers from across the land, as they find their way home on tour buses, will pass through cities, burrows, and slums with far worse racial issues than those we face in Jena. I hope the convenience of playing out America's racial drama on a stage in the piny woods of central Louisiana will not cause them to ignore the racism in their own back yards. Jena may be America's poster child for racism today, but that image is not base in reality. Our town has it's knot-heads and hot heads, but it is not the racial conflagration the media has created. She is actually a very nice place to live.
On September 20, there was not a single arrest made from the day of protest. Only a few were sent to our emergency room with some heat-related issues, none serious. No fights. No damages. No confrontations. Credit goes to a movement that came in peace to march in peace for righteousness. Equal credit goes to a righteous people who live in Jena, Louisiana. On any normal day, with just 3,000 citizens, we have arrests. We have emergencies in our hospital. We have confrontations. We swelled to add perhaps 40,000 more and saw a miracle. We put out our best, as southerners usually do for guests, and our guests were gracious, too.
My conclusion is that small towns in the deep south have come a long way when it comes to tolerance and historic movements in the minority community have come a long way when it comes to discipline. Something good will come of this. People of faith must always believe that. For those in Jena who feel like their town was desecrated on September 20, understand that America needed a moment like this. She needed a catharsis so she could move past the mentality of victimization in her minorities. For those in America who feel exhilarated by the passion of a new generation of "freedom fighters," say a prayer of thanks for a gracious town who sacrificed her dignity, without lashing out, for one sultry day in history.
Web Site: Alabaster Publishing Company
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|Reviewed by edw green (Reader)
|It is good that people were being their best selves for the day, when so many people of outstanding character and commitment came to town on important business. To come from far-flung places required real sacrifice for many. But they came to make common cause with you all in our common struggle to be our best selves all the other days - when we don't have company come to visit.
Not yeilding to the temptations born of fear, ignorance and intolerance is a great stride on the path to dignity. It opens the space to discover the common humanity of those you have held in your mind and heart as "other". I see no sacrifice of dignity in treating guests as family, even if it is a branch of the family that you have been raised to see as different, to be shunned, feared, judged harshly. And even if the house gets a little crowded.
I am writing you from Madison, Wisconsin. Our county has the earned the unfortunate distinction of being worst in the state for racial disparities in every step of our justice system, including for juveniles. And our state is a perennial contender for #1 in that hall of shame.
We don't think your recent troubles are just a quaint little town's problem. Thirty or forty thousand people didn't gather around your courthouse because Jena was acting so differently from where we all live. But they did come because there is a very real and very persistant problem in this country - founded on slavery, but also on dreams of freedom and justice for all - and it's just been more clearly revealed in the microcosm of your town. It is not just the distorted media coverage ( yes, there has been plenty that has produced more heat than light), there really is something wrong and ignoring it won't make it go away.
As a preacher you know full well that just beacause 'everybody else is doing it, too" doesn't make it right. Know that we are praying for you - for all of you - and for ourselves as well.
|Reviewed by Richard Orey
|Too bad Mr. Eddie Thompson isn't listed in my TV guide. You can be sure I'd check in with him before logging in with self-interest media networks.
Sir, you have authored another superb news article.
Three cheers for the citizenry of Jena, Louisana!
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
We need to learn to accept people, see them as Jesus would, love them unconditionally, get past the stereotypes and the hatred; sad that racial tensions are still continuing in today's world...when will mankind ever learn??
Praying hard for you and the people of Jena, Louisiana~
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :(
God bless you!
|Reviewed by Flying Fox Ted L Glines
|Very smoothly penned, Eddie, and a good solid message couched in the dignity and hospitality of The South. Well done.
I am reminded of my grandma. She never had anything bad to say about people of color, but she would not sit down in the same room with a black person. Why? "It's just not done," she said. She was from south Texas. I grew up not understanding her boundary system.
My area of east Texas was originally settled by people escaping from the post-Civil War Reconstruction Era. Racism is not difficult to find, here, but it is not like it was back in the 1960s -70s. As you so aptly said, we have come a long way.
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|i fear we are a long way from the day when people will look beyond accident of birth to see the person|