The Jena 6: Racism in America

In September 2006, a group of African American high school students in Jena, Louisiana, asked the school for permission to sit beneath a “whites only” shade tree. There was an unwritten rule that blacks couldn’t sit beneath the tree. The school said they didn’t care where students sat. The next day, students arrived at school to see three nooses (in school colors) hanging from the tree.

The boys who hung the nooses were suspended from school for a few days. The school administration chalked it up as a harmless prank, but Jena’s black population didn’t take it so lightly. Fights and unrest started breaking out at school. The District Attorney, Reed Walters, was called in to directly address black students at the school and told them all he could “end their life with a stroke of the pen.” (from While Seated via Kottke, more from the BBC)

And it went down hill from there. Fights errupted, someone tried to burn down the school and then a white student was injured and six black students were charged with attempted murder. The trial is starting now and is beginning to draw attention.

This sounds like something from the 1960s. Ridiculous.


I find it hard to believe that the school considered the nooses a “harmless prank.”

I find it hard to believe that the “pranksters” weren’t expelled (head of the school wanted to but the school board overruled).

I find it hard to believe that the DA upped the charges to “conspiracy to commit second degree murder and attempted second degree murder,” which could put the students in jail until they’re 50 if they are convicted.

I find it hard to believe that the national news media didn’t pick up the story until now (or I’m just living under a rock).

I guess this kind of racism shouldn’t be so hard to believe, but it is.

6 thoughts on “The Jena 6: Racism in America”

  1. Kevin,

    Thanks for bringing this story to the attention of a broader audience. I hadn’t heard about it until now. Sadly those of us in the dominant (white) culture are pretty oblivious to how insidious institutionalized and systemic racism really is. I hope stories like this will cause us all to want to dig a little deeper below the surface of what’s really going on in this country (and frankly in our churches) that allows racism like this to still exist.

    Shalom,
    Steve K.

  2. Hmmm, I can just imagine some white boys going to a black party with the intention of picking up black girls. What do you thing would happen there? Not only would a gun be pulled, but it would have been discharged. You know the black guys went to that party trying to pick up white girls.

  3. Mike, what the hell are you talking about? That’s a pretty stereotypical, assumption-charged comment to throw out there. Where are you even getting that?

    I’m tempted to just delete it, but it proves my point.

  4. Racism in Jena Louisiana
    Listen to my interview with Alan Bean, an activist who was in the courtroom during the trial

    JENA 6

    On June 28 2007 a young black defendant Mychal Bell was found guilty of aggravated assault against a young white man by an all white jury despite conflicting testimony from witnesses. Alan Bean talks about the things below:

    The weekend before the assault took place nooses were hung on a tree.

    The Prosecutor threatened black students about protesting the nooses

    A black man was assaulted, no charges were brought up.

    During the trial the public defender put up no defense after the prosecution rested it’s case.

    Listen to the interview and read about the case hear: JENA 6

  5. If I understand this right there is a system of justice in this country right? there fore the (KIDS) people that put up the “HANG DEVICE” should be hang by themselves, but on the other note, I see no reason why “BLACKS” in common places are the most racist out of all AMERICANS, maybe that is why we see this crap happening not just in JENA but also in other places like (WHERE I LIVE.) People get there asses kicked all the time, no big fuss. Just someone got there asses kick (BLACK OR WHITE) I dont care. Its happened to me. And my (RACE) whatever you people claim it is didnt make a big freakin mess about it no national media came by to f*** with me or the people who did it to me. SO GROW UP AMERICA SHI*T HAPPENS>>>>……..

    PS why do we need to place the word MONKEY

  6. Some white Guy–Shit happens so we should just roll over and let it happen? Not exactly the world I’d like to live in.

    And you have to type ‘monkey’ as a spam-prevention measure.

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