Revolution #119, February 10, 2008
Comments From Our Readers
The Road Back to Jena, Louisiana
Editors’ note: This letter was selected from reader comments and correspondence to Revolution. We’re printing it (and will continue to print more correspondence) to give readers a sense of the letters sent to Revolution, and to spark more interactivity between this paper and readers, and among readers. Selecting and printing letters does not imply that we agree, or disagree, with them.
We received the following correspondence from Chicago:
My first trip to Jena there were many, many people from around the country with a rainbow of T-shirts showing their hatred about hangman’s nooses, walking through a southern town many of them didn’t know existed until they heard about three hangman’s nooses hanging from a tree because six Black students sat under a tree for shade to get a breeze to cool out on a hot day.
Here it is, the year 2008. A white supremacist group decided to march in Jena and stand on the courthouse steps with guns and hangman’s nooses to remind the people of the heinous and cowardly racist crimes this country, America, committed against a people—to terrorize the people of Jena if they came forth to make a stand for justice.
So people went to Jena to make their voices heard against the white supremacist group. To want to stand on court house steps on Martin Luther King’s day of celebration because he marched and protested against racism, because his voice was heard around the world. To try to silence us as these racist cowards made a stand to remind the township of Jena what they represented.
The history about the hangman’s nooses is a part of history that will never, never be forgotten because you cut down a tree that six Black students stood under. To make a stand against white supremacy groups was well worth the trip. To come from around the country to show and give our support to this town, Jena, means a lot to me and other people who were there and those that could not be there.
I met some high school students from St. Louis who came to be there to make a stand with us. It let me know that our answers and our voices were truly heard loud and clear—and how important this paper, Revolution, is. Because maybe the local newspapers and news reporters will not tell the story about the white supremacist group with their ropes and guns and their confederate flags flying high.
But we will tell the story about the day we went back to Jena to drive out their message of hate with the necessary unity and words of encouragement. When I think about Jena and the hangman’s nooses the song by the great jazz singer Billie Holiday gives sad voice to its evil. In her version of “Strange Fruit” which she first sang in 1939:
“Southern trees bear a strange fruit.
Blood on leaves and blood at root
Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hanging from poplar trees.”
In remembrance of my cousin and others found hanging and swinging in the trees. Forever will be remembered—never, never forgotten. My cousin was found hanging in his bathroom in a rural town in the North near a military base where he was stationed to serve his country. If he don’t get no justice there will be no peace. Justice for the Jena 6. We got your back. We want a better world.
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