What would Jesus do about the Jena Six march?

Sherri L. Jackson, Publisher

It’s not often that I admit that I’m puzzled over an issue. However, I believe the magnitude of this matter deserves careful consideration that should lead to a major decision.

            I’m torn over whether or not to attend the Sept. 20 rally in Jena that many believe will bring thousands upon thousands to the small LaSalle Parish town.

            Using my journalistic wisdom, I earnestly believe that this rally will be the biggest event in Louisiana since Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The case, which involves six black boys accused of beating a white boy, Justine Barker, has gained international attention. That attention is the result of Tony Brown’s courageous reporting of the case on his morning talk show, “Eyes Open With Tony Brown.”

            Now, almost a year after the tragic incident and the conviction of one of the boys, Mychal Bell, thousands have answered the clarion call to descend upon the LaSalle Parish Courthouse. People are expected to come from as far west as California to the rural town to support Bell in hopes that the sentencing judge shows favor to the teenager.

            Here’s my dilemma. I’ve heard the rationale for people coming. Still, I’m not sure if a rally will make an impact on what will happen to Bell and the other young men. Sure, thousands and thousands of people coming from all parts of the world is a big enough impact in itself, but what will be the ultimate outcome.

            Let me be honest and stop beating around the bush with you. I don’t have a good feeling about the day. Let’s be clear. Everybody who comes to Jena on Sept. 20 is not coming with the interest of the Jena 6 in mind. You can be sure that members of the Ku Klux Klan are bleaching their robes now. When you add other extremists groups, both black and white, to the mix, you won’t get a positive outcome.

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            Besides, the money that people will use to gas their vehicles and pay for bus drivers may be better needed and used to effectively defend the boys. Though some of the attorneys are working pro bono, there are still costs associated with the case that will have to be paid.

            I’m almost 400 words into this column and I still haven’t made up my mind. What about you? Are you going to Jena on Sept. 20? Why? Why not? Leave your comments. Help me make sense of this? What would Jesus do?

6 Responses

  1. I will not be attending the rally in Jena, as I feel that my presence and the presence of the thousands of others(if that many do show up) who may come to show support for Mychal Bell will not in any way persuade the judge in his case to let him go free, as this judge has already shown that he is a “hardliner” in that he has denied Mr. Bell a bond (he remains in jail), and has dismissed many of the motions by Bell’s attorneys to drop the charges, or reduce the charges to simple battery.

    In my opinion, DA Walter Reed and the judge see eye to eye regarding Mr. Bell, and both are intent on giving him the maximum sentence for the crime that he was convicted on.

    Some times, things are better left alone, and yes, a grave miscarriage of justice has been carried out in this case of the “Jena Six”, but bringing outsiders in to handle a local situation is only making things worse. Rev. Al Sharpton made his first appearance in Jena, and that should have been his last appearance. Did he accomplish anything by coming to Jena? I think not. Did Martin Luther King III accomplish anything by coming to Jena? I think not. Did Rev. Jessie Jackson accomplish anything by coming to Jena? I think not. I’m saying that because after each of their appearances, Mr. Bell still remains in jail, and the charges still stick, and he still faces almost 20 years in prison. Their being in Jena did not change the DA’s mind nor the judge’s mind.

    Even before reading your article about not having a good feeling about the 20th of September when thousands are to decend upon Jena, I told someone the other day that if Mr. Bell does receive a lengthy sentence, it will only take one person of the thousands in the crowd to say something or do something that will set this crowd off, and lord knows what will happen. This country hasn’t seen a riot since the Rodney King thing in LA, and the small town of Jena can and will be put on the map for more than the ‘Jena Six” – it will be put on the map for a riot taking place in rural America.

    I don’t want that to happen, and I’m pretty sure that others, both black and white don’t want that to happen, but I do want and hope that the right justice is given to Mr. Bell, as this young man does not deserve to spend part of his early life in jail. He made a mistake, and yes, he deserves some kind of punishment, but not like the DA wants to give him.

    My advice, if it matters, it for those who are planning to attend the rally in Jena is for you to stay at home, and pray that mercy will be shown to Mr. Bell by this judge. Again, some things are better left alone.

    And to answer your question, I think that Jesus would stay at home and not interfere in the proceedings. As we say, and as some preachers say, our lives are in God’s hands, and in the case of Mr. Bell, his life will be in God’s hand at the time of his sentence, and if God sees fit to spare him mercy, then he will.

  2. It is interesting that you ask what would Jesus do? Many times, he was found in the midst of controversial situations for which his closet associates thought no good would come of them and even some deserted him. Enough said there. Maybe, the better question is what must I do.

    As to the question of the validity of this march, I strongly believe that it is necessary mainly due to the many injustices that have been perpetrated upon these young men. And they are so obvious that even Stevie Wonder can see them. There were many in MLK’s day who felt that a march would do no good. And there were those who even turned against him of his own race. People were hurt and even killed. Fear as well as ignorance can hold one back if not dealt with. Yet, today, we have benefited from the efforts of those who took a chance, in much harsher times, to stand against injustice. Well, I believe it’s our turn now.

    As to your attendance, well, I leave that between you and God. But rest assured that your fellow reporters are going to be there. Not only that, they will benefit from the news and events of the day. Secondly, I read that you want to report things in the Black community for our children. What a perfect opportunity to use your journalistic ability to help shed “light” into an otherwise dark situation.

    Finally, I do have the concern for us that once the excitement of the rally is over and all is said and done, that things will return to norm and we will return to an attitude of that says, “Well, we all know who’s in control. They’re gonna win anyway.” It’s an attitude of complacency and acceptance. Can we not do that to ourselves, our children, our community, our state, and our nation? Sometimes the positive effects of a situation are not seen until many years later. But honor is due to those who at least made the effort to make a difference and honor is due to those today who choose to stand for righteousness.

  3. You know this world has not changed at all. You will think that after four decades, things would change; but the answer is a resounding “NO!” As far as the march, it’s a positve thing. As long as people sit back and watch and not say anything, then the results you get is nothing. As long as you see the rock being thrown (unjustice being done) and look the other way as though it is not real, you are saying “I don’t care.” If we don’t stand up like the people who counted the jelly beans in the jar or the lady who said “I will not give up my seat,” then, we will forever be denied what is rightfully ours. No matter what the outcome is,God is still in charge. The Judge and the Prosecutor may think that they are hard core; but so did Pharoah. So as for me and my house, I will be there. Now, what will Jesus do: First of all, it all depended on the situation. For the little girl who was dying, he sent the prayer and she was healed. For the man who died, he waited. When he did show up; he raised the dead. For the woman at the well, he did not show up until her fifth husband who really wasn’t the man; and became the man that she needed. For the women in adultry, he showed up just in time before a stone was thrown; and the results, not a stone hit her. But you can believe that he did show up in one way or another. Even though all may not be able to come, still show up in person or in prayer. Prayer changes things. But let it all be for the glory or God. In the end, Pharoah wished he had let the children of Israel go, after he started losing out. God is tired of his people getting hurt. He said touch not my little one and do my prophets no harm. Jesus also came here to not do away with the law, but to show mercy where mercy was do. A town like Jena have always been a white man’s town and black had better be at home at dark or stay in their place. When will people realize that this is a brand new day in the Lord. Let that mess go and live. Let the children alone and let them live. Martin Luther King, Jr., said that black boys and white girls would be walking down the streets holding hands and vice versa. This is happening today as it was prophesied yesterday. Leave the children alone and pray that they do not have the hatred their ancestors had. It’s the ancestors that are killing the new generation with their ill thoughts. On whether or not you should go, didn’t you say you are a journalist, then what does journalist do? May the peace of God rain on September 20, 2007 and may his grace and mercy endureth forever. Go in Peace and Prayer.

  4. Nice responses both from Shelia and B. S. Holmes( by the way, are you Buster Holmes who went to NSU). I tend to agree with Shelia that after everything is said and done, the “black folk” in Jena will be the same as they were before this “Jena Six” situation even happened. If they continue to sit back and do nothing until something happens in their town, then they deserve what they get. If this whole thing had not happen, the blacks in Jena would still be going about their ways taking s’it from the whites, but now they want to get up and do something; they should have done something long time ago. But now, they are leaving it to outsiders to do what they should have done.

    I also agree with B.S. Holmes that the march will be a positive thing in that it will let the folks in Jena know that others are behind them in this situation, but again, the blacks will need to push forward to better themselves, and do whatever it takes to show that they should be treated just as fairly as the whites in Jena, which we all know has two separate forms of justice and rights for whites and blacks.

    I hope that the march does produce something positive, and that those in attendance will be on their best behavior.

  5. I agree with Sheila and B.S. 100%.

    Leaonard, how can you say that we should sit back and leave all in GODs hands. All is in HIS hands no matter what. But GOD has angels that he sends to do his work; it’s that inner-self in all of us that says “this is not right, what can I do to help?”

    Another fact for you to elaborate on. If all those leaders that went to Jena had no impact on the judge or D.A., why are all six of the boys free as I type.

    Your purpose in life is not to sit back and watch injustice be served because if you do you are serving your children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren a serious injustice.

  6. Yes I am going to Jena, God did not give anyone a spirit of fear. When you go looking for negative situations you will find them. Louisiana has rich and unique culture, many are long held traditions and customs. And one particular tradition that this state and many of the southern United States has retained, is the culture of racism and oppression. Many AA in the south have also maintained cultures and habits passed down from generation to generation, and that is to be docile and obedient to Caucasions. In many small towns, even here in Alexandria I see it all the time, people feel they know their place and they stay in it. Many people need to learn and believe that they have every right as the next person. I’m sure each one of those kids parents went to the school for answers and were probably given the run around. I know that they felt hopeless in their quest for justice. They had no voice and only a few people spoke for them. Many people here in Alexandria have been silent about this case.How many more of our brothers and sons have been railroaded by the penal (corporations) system of LA? No, I do not condone illegal activity, but while this state is building prisons they need to be about the business of educating the children, especially our Black children who are failing behind in everything. If they feel that federal prisons will give good wages to white males, sure they will, but then they can go about locking up the black male since many are blinded by the bling and he really can’t see whats going on. What more will it take for Black America to change our communities? The true spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood has shown the world what we can accomplish if we just STAND. When you take a stand for what is right, God will stand with you. We own the power to change our world and to control our destiny. You are your dreams and anything you want to happen in your life can happen. Set the foundation for your life and control the outcome. We will never compromise and never again should we continue to settle for less. Each and everyone of US must stand out, set a standard and raise the standard. America must remember that we are no longer anyones property, but GODS property. We have taken the first step to bring about true change of Americas culture of racism. And that change is not one of fear, it’s about renewal. If we continue to think that America is holding US down, then when are we ever going to get up? Put words into pictures, if the children are our future; then I want them to see theirs. The respect of our people is PRICELESS, to LOVE one another is HUMAN. I am presenting my best to the world. Each one teach one, each one reach one, each one help one, and each one SAVE one. Anything worth anything is worth sacrifice, march on into power. If we don’t seize this opportunity to change our communities we may never see it again. Each and everyday more and more black people are speaking out and speaking against overt racism and are determined to end the errosion and decline of Black people in this country. While we keep chasing the illusion of equality our communities continue to decline. When are we ever going to realize that we are equal by birth? Chasing the illusion of equality diverts us from the real issues facing our communities. We can no longer sit by while politicians and big business ruin this country. March on into power, when we come to Jena, we will come with the spirit of love for our family, because we are Love……… Be the example we want to model before the world….

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