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Students Across the Country Rally for Jena 6

"'They say 'Jim Crow,' we say 'hell no!'"
by Chapin Gray |
September 28, 2007
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Students demand justice for the Jena 6.
Students demand justice for the Jena 6. (Fight Back! News/Staff)
Students demand justice for the Jena 6. Big banner on big steps.

Tuscaloosa, AL - Across the country, students held rallies in solidarity with the Jena 6. At the University of Alabama, over 100 students, faculty and staff gathered on the library steps, Sept. 20, the day after the massive rally Jena, Louisiana, demanding justice. The protest, organized by the Social Work Association for Cultural Awareness, the University of Alabama chapter of Students for a Democratic Society and the NAACP. The NAACP chartered a bus of students to attended the rally in Jena, which is being reported as the largest civil rights march in years, with crowd estimates around 20,000.

Only a few blocks from the Foster Auditorium, where Governor Wallace blocked the entrance of two African-American students to the university in 1963, University of Alabama students and teachers spoke passionately about how the Jena incident reflects the criminalization of young Black men, the corrupt and racist criminal justice system and the need for whites to back the continuing struggle against discrimination.

"I believe that people who commit crimes against others should be punished - but the weight of their punishment should not depend on the color of their skin," said University of Alabama alum Horus Muhammad, "Just because I am an African-American and you are a caucasian does not mean I should go to prison and you get a slap on the wrist if we both commit the same crime."

Aftermath of Jena

On the day of the march, the majority of white residents of Jena left town, closing businesses and shops. During the protest in Jena, some white teenagers attached nooses to their truck; they were stopped and arrested. In the days following, nooses were hung at a high school in North Carolina . The Jena rally is being hailed as an impressive show of Black unity and strength.

In a related development, on Sept. 21, a judge denied a request to release Mychal Bell, one of the Jena 6 who has been in jail since he was arrested in 2006.