Monday, August 27, 2007

Copied from Willa, Contemporary Segregation

I just learned about a case of segregation-era oppression happening today in Jena, Louisiana. I signed onto's campaign for justice in Jena, and wanted to invite you to do the same.

Last fall in Jena, the day after two Black high school students sat beneath the "white tree" on their campus, nooses were hung from the tree. When the superintendent dismissed the nooses as a "prank," more Black students sat under the tree in protest. The District Attorney then came to the school accompanied by the town's police and demanded that the students end their protest, telling them, "I can be your best friend or your worst enemy... I can take away your lives with a stroke of my pen."

A series of white-on-black incidents of violence followed, and the DA did nothing. But when a white student was beaten up in a schoolyard fight, the DA responded by charging six black students with attempted murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

It's a story that reads like one from the Jim Crow era, when judges, lawyers and all-white juries used the justice system to keep blacks in "their place." But it's happening today. The families of these young men are fighting back, but the story has gotten minimal press. Together, we can make sure their story is told and that the Governor of Louisiana intervenes and provides justice for the Jena 6. It starts now. Please join me:

The noose-hanging incident and the DA's visit to the school set the stage for everything that followed. Racial tension escalated over the next couple of months, and on November 30, the main academic building of Jena High School was burned down in an unsolved fire. Later the same weekend, a black student was beaten up by white students at a party. The next day, black students at a convenience store were threatened by a young white man with a shotgun. They wrestled the gun from him and ran away. While no charges were filed against the white man, the students were later arrested for the theft of the gun.

That Monday at school, a white student, who had been a vocal supporter of the students who hung the nooses, taunted the black student who was beaten up at the off-campus party and allegedly called several black students "nigger." After lunch, he was knocked down, punched and kicked by black students. He was taken to the hospital, but was released and was well enough to go to a social event that evening.

Six Black Jena High students, Robert Bailey (17), Theo Shaw (17), Carwin Jones (18), Bryant Purvis (17), Mychal Bell (16) and an unidentified minor, were expelled from school, arrested and charged with second-degree attempted murder. The first trial ended last month, and Mychal Bell, who has been in prison since December, was convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery (both felonies) by an all-white jury in a trial where his public defender called no witnesses. During his trial, Mychal's parents were ordered not to speak to the media and the court prohibited protests from taking place near the courtroom or where the judge could see them.

Mychal is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31st, and could go to jail for 22 years. Theo Shaw's trial is next. He will finally make bail this week.

The Jena Six are lucky to have parents and loved ones who are fighting tooth and nail to free them. They have been threatened but they are standing strong. We know that if the families have to go it alone, their sons will be a long time coming home. But if we act now, we can make a difference.

Join me in demanding that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco get involved to make sure that justice is served for Mychal Bell, and that DA Reed Walters drop the charges against the 5 boys who have not yet gone to trial.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Please pray

You may not know them, but Paul and Rachel Michal just had a baby boy a two weeks ago. He was born without the left side of his heart and although his surgery went well, he flatlined yesterday evening for a brief period of time. Their treatment solutions are limited and he isn't doing well. This is their first child, the result of years of trying. Please lift them up in prayer today and pray that God would heal this little baby boy. They are in Egleston (sp?) Hospital in Atlanta.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Then... dog update

So far so good with the new doggy. Clara and Bailey are best friends and double trouble. Clara loves to boss her around, pretend to take her for walks, sit on her head, and hook her up with forbidden goodies. Bailey very patiently puts up with all of the above, I guess in the hopes that she'll eventually get hooked up with the forbidden goodies. We really need to fence in the yard so she can run around and spend some puppy energy, but for now all is well. We love having her with us.

Life with Bailey

First... house progress

Despite many exhausting trips to Porter Paint with kids in tow, this week has been very encouraging. Every day the house looks better than it did the day before. If we finish this soon, this project will be the first project on our house that has ever been finished. Every other job we've done has some annoying details left hanging. We're hoping to see this one through.

Here is the house as it is this morning. I'll post another picture or two later today. The railings, pictured are the railings that Matt built, using salvaged wood from the old porch. They'll be pretty swanky looking when they're painted. The pillars will eventually (today?) all be the white/blue combo that you see below. What do you think?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Another Bailey

God seems to have a sense of humor about all of this. I've been searching for another dog each morning, knowing the chances are slim and knowing that after what we spent last week, our options are limited. I found another chocolate labradoodle named Bailey. She's in Kentucky, not so far away and she's exactly what we're looking for. When we pick her up on Saturday she will be spayed (neutered?), microchipped, dewormed, treated for fleas and ticks, and up to date on her shots--all for only $85, less than the cost to do all of that. Even if we got a free dog, we'd pay more than that just for the first vet visit.

Bailey was a stray, who a very nice lady took in. The lady who took her in said that Bailey is a very sweet dog and she's almost completely trained already. She's 6 months old and very smart and obedient. I wish I had been more patient last week. I would have adopted this Bailey in the first place. What's the saying about experience being a hard teacher?

Anyway, here she is. We'll pick her up on Saturday and we'll make a much-needed family trip out of it. We all need a small break from the house and this will accomplish that too.

Thanks to all of you for your prayers, emails, and phone calls. Yesterday was simultaneously my worst and best day in awhile. Your encouragement means so much to me and to Matt.