Get Empowered: The Jena 6

If you notice a significant group of students wearing black on your campus today, it’s not because they are all attending a funeral this evening.

The black outfits you’re seeing on campus is in support of the Jena 6. Don’t know what I’m talking about? The Jena 6 is a group of six black students from Jena, La. who have all been charged with crimes related to the assault of a white teenager.

In Jena, black students and white students rarely engaged in activities with each other, spoke to each other and they didn’t even sit in the same area in the school’s courtyard. But, on August 31, 2006, a black freshman at Jena High School asked permission to sit under what was deemed the “white tree”. He was granted permission and sat with a friend in the shade of the tree.

However, the next day three nooses were found hanging from the tree. Charges were never pressed against the three white students who supposedly hung the nooses, even though it could have been considered a hate crime. Tension mounted throughout the semester, the city of Jena claimed they just wanted to keep everyone calm.

At a predominantly white party later in the semester, one black student was assaulted by a white man and was reportedly hit with beer bottles. The white man was supposedly charged with battery, a simple misdemeanor. Then, on December 4, 2006, black students attacked a white student (who, might I add, had a rifle in his possession). The black students were charged with second-degree attempted murder. Supposedly, they were ‘egged on’ by the white students who said the black student assaulted at the party got his “ass whipped”.

Today, Mychael Bell, the first to be tried, is being sentenced. Bell was originally facing 80 years of imprisonment, but that number has since been dropped to 22 years 2007. Students have been asked to show their support for him and the unfairness of the situation by wearing black.

What do you think of this situation? Is the judicial system being fair, or is this an act of blatant racism?

Head on over to 1,000 Dreams Fund to learn how to get funding for your dreams!