Revolution #97, July 29, 2007

Letter to Revolution Readers from Alice Woodward: Contribute to the Revolution Reporters Fund

Dear Revolution Readers,

I plan to travel to Jena, Louisiana to expose the injustice done to the Jena Six. Your generous contribution to the Revolution Newspaper Reporters Fund will make my trip possible.

The recent articles I wrote on the Jena Six brought you the story of six Black youth who live in a segregated town called Jena, Louisiana. Jim Crow injustice could result in their imprisonment for decades for a schoolyard fight that took place after lynching nooses were hung from a tree in the schoolyard (see "Free the Jena Six, Jim Crow Injustice in Jena, Louisiana, by Alice Woodward" from Revolution #96).

This is happening today... not the fifties, or slavery days. Lynching ropes hanging in the schoolyard of a high school! Black students had a shotgun shoved in their faces, and are being charged with a crime for taking the shotgun from the white racist who was threatening them. The white attackers of Robert Bailey are allowed to go free without charges, and six black students face decades in prison for a schoolyard fight. And nobody knows about this! One student, Mychal Bell, was convicted of two felonies already, and faces up to 22 years in jail. The mother of another youth facing felony charges said, “They want to take these kids, my son as well as all these other children, lock them up and throw away the key, that’s a tradition, for Black males, so they want to keep that tradition going because they want to keep institutionalized slavery alive and well.”

Many people who read this story in Revolution were shocked, and outraged, and are spreading the word, calling on others to defend the Jena Six. One reader wrote: “I was deeply touched by this incredible story, I'd like to know if there is any means to protest against this awful decision and give my support.” Another reader wrote, “What can someone do voice outrage?”

How much more is there to learn about the trial, and what’s going on in the town of Jena? What is the underlying reality of what's happening there and why are things like this? I need to travel to Jena to learn the whole story, to expose the injustice, and to defend the Jena Six. Traveling there will allow me to examine this story and more deeply understand where this situation is coming from, and its part in the history of racism and segregation of this country. And bring that all back to the pages of Revolution.

I have been corresponding with family members of the Jena Six, and talking with community members in Jena, as well as those helping to organize people around the country in their defense. I asked Marcus Jones, Mychal Bell's father, to help me explain to readers what it would mean for me to travel there to continue reporting and he said: "It would mean somethin' for the rest of the country and the world to know how racism still exists and how people that’s in politics and certain divisions still use their power to do the less fortunate wrong. It’s a real contribution for ya'll to get the story out and let people who live in other parts of America know what still exists."

Sending Revolution reporters like myself to cover this and other stories is an important part of what we will be able to do through raising $500,000 in Revolution's six-month expansion and fund drive. Your generous contribution will send me to Jena for a firsthand account of the situation there. And your contribution will allow Revolution to continue to report on the stories that you want to see brought to light and exposed, but are left ignored by the mainstream media.

The events in Jena, Louisiana around the trial of the Jena Six are developing almost from day to day. On July 31, Mychal Bell will be sentenced at the LaSalle Parish courthouse. There are plans for people to go there and rally to support him. Parents of the Jena Six suspect the trials of the five others will begin sometime in August or September. The church in the black community that recently hosted a meeting around the Jena Six has been vandalized and attacked.

How much more is there to learn about the trial, and what’s going on in the town of Jena? What is the underlying reality of what's happening there and why?

The Revolution Reporters Fund will make trips like this possible. Your generous contribution will make a huge difference in our ability to bring stories like this to the world.

Send us your comments.

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