Mos Def and other Artists, Students and Activists Call for a Student Walk out on Monday October 1st To Support the Jena 6
Artist/Activist Mos Def, Idris Elba, Common, M1, Talib Kweli, MC Lyte, Pharoahe Monch, the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement, Sankofa Community Empowerment, Change the Game, the National Hip Hop Political Convention, The Hip-Hop Association, Color of Change and student leaders from over 100 campuses call for a National Student Walk-Out on Monday October 1 at 12 noon central time to support the Jena 6, who are being denied their human rights by the Louisiana criminal justice system.
September 26, 2007 New York - Black and Latino/a artists, activists and students across the country are organizing a national day of support for six Black high school students known as the "Jena 6." Over 100 schools have joined in the call to walk out of classrooms at 12 noon, Central Standard Time on Monday October 1 and rally either on campus or at other designated areas to demand the immediate release of Mychal Bell from jail.
Mos Def, who spearheaded the campaign, said "This is the time for Black people to support the Jena 6, and call attention to the unequal treatment the criminal Justice system is dishing out not only in Jena Louisiana but across this nation"we all live in Jena."
The Jena case began last fall, when two Black high school students sat under the "white" tree on their campus. White students responded by hanging nooses from the tree, conjuring up images of lynching and racial terrorism endured by Black people across the country. When Black students protested the light punishment for the students who hung the nooses, District Attorney Reed Walters came to the school and told the students he could "take [their] lives away with a stroke of [his] pen."
Racial tension continued to mount in Jena, and the District Attorney did nothing in response to several egregious cases of violence and threats against black students. But when a white student--who had been a vocal supporter of the student's who hung the nooses, taunted a black student and called several black students "nigger"--sustained minor injuries from a school fight, six black students were charged with second-degree attempted murder. Last month, the first young man to be tried, Mychal Bell, was convicted. He faced up to 22 years in prison for a school fight until Black people began to organize and his conviction was thrown out by a court that rules he should not have been tried as an adult. However, the DA and the judge still refuse to drop the charges in this case and Bell, though released on $45,000 bail, is still subject to trial.
This case has become a symbol for the Black community of the disproportionate arrest and incarceration rate of Black people and the excessive punishment of Black students in schools across the country. Many local organizers say what is happening to the Jena 6 youth is similar to what happens in their cities.
Mos Def added, "Jena Louisiana is the same as "Jena" New York. From Mychal Bell to Sean Bell our communities continue to be targeted."
The group has created a list of demands that will be read at noon during rallies around the country.
Demands Judge J.P. Mauffray and District Attorney Reed Walters have engaged in a string of egregious actions. We call for:
1. All charges against the Jena 6 be dropped;
2. The United States Department of Justice to convene an immediate inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the arrests and prosecutions of the Jena 6;
3. Judge Mauffray to be recused from presiding over Bell's juvenile court hearings or other proceedings;
4. The Louisiana Office of Disciplinary Counsel to investigate Reed Walters for unethical and possibly illegal conduct;
5. The Louisiana Judiciary Commission investigate Judge Mauffray for unethical conduct;
6. The Jena School District superintendent to be removed from office; and
7. That each local, state and federal criminal justice apparatus stop profiling the black community in general and specifically black youth for imprisonment and free labor.
For more information: www.mxgm.org and www.myspace.com/SankofaEmpowerment
To add your name and school to join this movement please contact: Assata Richards at firstname.lastname@example.org or Shantrelle P. Lewis at SJPLewis@hotmail.com
List of additional endorsers: Cynthia McKinney, Immortal Technique, K'naan, April Silver/akilaworksongs, Kevin Powell, Brian White, NyOil, Goapele, Dwayne Wiggins, X-Clan, Wise Intelligent.
Contact: Rosa Clemente 347-223-8054 or Shantrelle P. Lewis 202-246-5244 or email@example.com
Hip Hop Poet Bomani Armah Releases 'Jena 6' Song To Continue Movement
Bomani Armah, the hip hop artist/poet responsible for the cultural phenomenon 'Read A Book,' has released "Jena 6," a song dedicated to furthering the Movement supporting six young Black men, their families, and community, suffering from injustice and the abuse of power in the state of Louisiana. This unique hip hop artist, Bomani Armah says "I'm not a rapper, I'm a poet with a hip hop style"
When asked about why he made this track, hip hop artist Bomani Armah says "I made this song, not to highlight the problem. That has already been done by activists, organizations and leaders like Color Of Change (colorofchange.org), Rev. Al Sharpton, Michael Baisden, and countless grassroots activists that aren't getting credit today for the work they put in months ago. I made this song, and released it after the recent March, out of concern that this Movement will die and lack the follow-through and unity we need to make any change in Jena , permanent. My job, and that of every one who listens to this song who has a sense of justice and concern for Black people, is to make sure that we do what is necessary economically, politically and culturally to support the Jena 6, and all those who were left behind when the March ended and the media and thousands left town. The hard work still remains to be done, in Jena , and throughout America , and I'm taking a stand, as an artist, father, husband, son, and brother."
Jena Six Students to Lead Panel at Summit in Washington, DC
Singer Angie Stone, Jena Six Students to Participate in Children's Defense Fund Summit Tuesday Night
CDF Event at Howard University to Focus on America's Cradle to Prison Pipeline(R)
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Singer Angie Stone and "Jena Six" students will participate in the Tuesday, September 25, evening session of the Children's Defense Fund's (CDF) national Cradle to Prison Pipeline Summit at Howard University.
Stone will take part in a panel discussion on "Transforming Popular Culture into a Positive Force to help Dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline." Following that, students Robert Bailey and Theo Shaw, two of the "Jena Six" will join others involved in the case for a panel discussion on "Endangered Black Males: Racial Injustice and the Pipeline". Bailey, Shaw and four other Black high school students in Jena, Louisiana, known widely as the "Jena Six," have been unjustly charged with adult felony charges for allegedly participating in a school fight. Both events will take place in Howard University's Cramton Auditorium.
The panel will be part of a larger Summit to address America's Cradle to Prison Pipeline crisis and its devastating impact on children, youth and their families, particularly within the Black and Latino communities. A full Summit agenda is attached. For more information on CDF's Cradle to Prison Pipeline Initiative visit http://www.childrensdefense.org/cradletoprison.
WHO: Children's Defense Fund Singer Angie Stone "Jena Six" students Robert Bailey and Theo Shaw
WHAT: Cradle to Prison Pipeline Summit Tuesday Evening Session
WHEN: September 25th, 2007
7:30 PM Panel: Transforming Popular Culture into a Positive Force to help Dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline.
9:00 PM Panel: Endangered Black Males: Racial Injustice and the Pipeline
WHERE Cramton Auditorium Howard University Campus 2455 Sixth Street, NW, Washington, DC 20059 Media check-in begins at 6:30 PM
RSVP: Media wishing to attend this event must RSVP to Nayyera Haqat firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-662-3592. A mult box will be provided.
National Summit on America's Cradle to Prison Pipeline(R) Crisis
The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) September 25-26, 2007 Howard University Washington, DC
TENTATIVE AGENDA 9-18-07
Tuesday, September 25 8:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. Registration Blackburn Auditorium Second floor lobby
10:00 a.m. -- 10:05 a.m. Welcome to Howard University
Dr. H. Patrick Swygert, President, Howard University
10:05 a.m. - 10:20 a.m. Meditation on Why We Are Here
Reverend Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr., Senior Minister Emeritus Riverside Church, CDF Board Member
10:20 a.m. - 10:35 a.m. Welcome, Introduction and Overview of Summit's Goals
Marian Wright Edelman, President, Children's Defense Fund
This session will introduce the honorary co-chairs of the Summit, Dr. Dorothy Height, Dr. John Hope Franklin, and Dr. Dolores Huerta and set the stage for activating the action phase of a broad-based National Community Crusade for Children, the social movement needed to dismantle the Pipeline that CDF seeks to catalyze at this Summit. It also will provide an overall framework for the Summit itself. Special emphasis will be placed on the exceptionally high personal, family and societal toll the Pipeline exacts, the striking failure of our nation to recognize its existence, and to take the urgent and sustained actions needed on the policy, programmatic and investment fronts to redress the multiple, convergent factors that fuel it. (This session will announce the official release of America's Cradle to Prison Pipeline(R) Report that all participants will receive.)
Dismantling America's Cradle to Prison Pipeline: What Will It Take?
Part I. "Mobilizing Public Demand and Political Will"
Moderator: Angela Glover Blackwell, Overall Summit Moderator and Synthesizer, Founder and CEO Policy Link and CDF Board Member
10:35 a.m. - 10:45 a.m. Angela Glover Blackwell Overview of Summit agenda, schedule and plan of action
10:45 a.m. - 10:55 a.m. "What About the Children?" Yolanda Adams song with Slide Presentation of Photographs of Children in the Pipeline by Veteran Time Magazine Photographer Steve Liss
10:55 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. Introduction: Robert F. Vagt, President Emeritus, Davidson College and Chair, CDF Board of Directors
11:00 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Dr. John Hope Franklin, James B. Duke Professor Emeritus of History, Duke University
11:15 a.m. - 11:20 a.m. Introduction: Carol Biondi, California's State Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency, CDF Board Member
11:20 a.m. - 11:35 a.m. Dr. Dolores Huerta, President, Dolores Huerta Foundation and co-founder and First Vice President Emeritus, United Farm Workers of America
11:35 a.m. - 12:05 p.m. Interaction between Speakers and Summit Participants (Angela Glover Blackwell presiding)
The opening addresses seek to provide a historical context for the Summit by highlighting key past achievements, the serious continuing challenges and unfinished agenda, through the lens of the Black and Latino communities, and to build the requisite power base to prevent and dismantle the Pipeline. They will be followed by an interactive dialogue with Summit participants including Theodore Shaw, Director-Counsel and President, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund commenting on the role of race in the Pipeline.
12:05 p.m. - 12:30 p.m. Participants transit to Blackburn East Ballroom
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Buffet Luncheon served Blackburn East Ballroom Invocation
1:30 p.m. - 1:50 p.m. Participants transit to Cramton Auditorium
Part II. Reweaving the Fabric of Family and Community: Challenges and Opportunities
1:50 p.m. - 2:45 p.m. The Need for Personal and Community Cramton Auditorium Responsibility to Dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline
Moderator: Juan Williams, Senior Correspondent, National Public Radio
Dr. Bill Cosby, Educator, Entertainer, and Author, including Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors, with Alivin F. Poussaint
Dr. Robert Michael Franklin Jr., President, Morehouse College, author of Crisis in the Village: Restoring Hope in African American Communities
2:45 p.m. - 3:45 p.m. Perspectives of Youth and Parents Cramton Auditorium Moderator: Maya Harris, Executive Director, ACLU of Northern California
Discussants: Donnie Belcher Boyd, Youth Advocate, Chicago, Ill. Michelle "Mickey" McKinney, Youth Advocate, Los Angeles, Calif. Lupe Ortiz-Tovar, Youth Advocate, Tucson, Ariz. Hun Pham, Youth, New York, N.Y. Jasbir Singh, Youth Advocate, New York, N.Y. Ms. Lorna Hogan, Parent Advocate, Washington, D.C. Mrs. Wanda Taylor, Parent Advocate, Minneapolis, Minn.
This session will be an honest and provocative dialogue with parents and youth, some of whom have been caught in one or more of the key feeder points into the Pipeline, and all of whom are now working to help keep from entering or being trapped in the Pipeline. Mothers and fathers, many of whom have confronted the Pipeline themselves, know all too intimately the struggles and perils faced in fulfilling care-giving roles for children and youth amid often profound personal and family challenges and unsupportive environments and systems. Through this intimate sharing of experiences, the session hopes to illuminate the very real but often insidious factors that funnel children and youth into the Pipeline and how this affects their lives and that of their families. It also seeks to provide valuable insights from those who have faced the Pipeline head-on about the most urgently needed preventive and other interventions and escape paths.
3:45 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Break
4:00 p.m. - 5:15 p.m. Interactive Dialogue Cramton Auditorium Promising Approaches to End Violence and Strengthen Communities in Dismantling the Pipeline
Moderator: J. Michael Solar, Esq., Solar & Padilla LLP, Houston, Texas and CDF Board Member
Reverend Dr. Ray Hammond, Chair, Boston Foundation and Chairman and Co- Founder, Boston Ten Point Coalition
Dr. Carl C. Bell, Professor of Psychiatry and Public Health, University of Illinois in Chicago
David Kennedy, John Jay College of Criminal Justice and founder of Operation CeaseFire
David Valladolid, President and CEO of the Parent Institute For Quality Education (PIQE)
In the past, parents, neighbors, faith-based and educational institutions and communities were expected to and did assume major responsibilities for keeping children and youth safe, within their families and out of child welfare, and juvenile and criminal justice systems by providing positive adult role models and helping to guide them along paths to success in school and beyond. Today, pervasive poverty, unemployment, rampant substance abuse, widespread crime and violence fuel already high and increasing rates of incarceration of children, youth, and their parents. Popular culture frequently demeans academic achievement and glorifies violence and disrespect of others, including women. Together, these forces have seriously eroded traditional values and undermined family and community stability. This session will explore successful multi-pronged strategies to create new community norms to quell violence and to engage key community stakeholders to buffer children and youth from entering the Pipeline and facilitate the sustained exit of those who already have entered it. Within this interactive format, each discussant will provide a brief overview of his/her respective initiative to be followed by a discussion of the key lessons learned from these experiences and their replicability, to illuminate how to staunch violence within communities on a large scale.
5:15 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Summit Participants Transit to Dinner
5:30 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Dinner for Summit Participants Blackburn East Ballroom Presider: Katie McGrath, Child Advocate, Los Angeles, CA and CDF Board Member
Invocation Howard University Jazz Ensemble performs during dinner
7:00 p.m. - 7:30 p.m. Summit Participants Transit to Cramton Auditorium for Evening Panel (Note: this evening session will be open to a wide audience, in addition to the Summit participants)
7:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Part III. Cramton Auditorium
Transforming Popular Culture into a Positive Force to help Dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline
Moderator: Confirmation pending
Discussants: Geoff Canada, President and CEO, Harlem Children's Zone and CDF Board Member Dr. Edward Cornwell, Chief of Adult Trauma and Professor, Johns Hopkins Hospital Christy Hauberger, Founder, Latina Magazine Angie Stone, Singer and Composer Others pending confirmation
Prominent community leaders and positive role models for children and youth are needed from the entertainment world to share their views on what it will take to transform the negative influences that permeate much of today's national and youth culture into more positive forces to affect the family, community and societal changes required to foster healthy, safe children. They will help formulate a call to action for promoting positive and productive lifestyles for children and youth, and helping change community and cultural norms about violence, underachievement and prison.
9:00 p.m. - 9:45 p.m. Endangered Black Males: Racial Injustice Cramton Auditorium and the Pipeline The Jena Six
Moderator: Confirmation pending Robert Bailey, Student Casiphla Bailey, Mother Theo Shaw, Student Tracie Washington, Esq., Louisiana Justice Project
Wednesday, September 26 8:30 a.m. - 9:30 a.m. Continental Breakfast Blackburn East Ballroom
9:30 a.m. - 9:40 a.m. Meditation: Rev. Dr. Bernard Richardson, Blackburn East Ballroom Dean of Rankin Chapel, Howard University
Part IV. Priority Systemic Reforms to Dismantle the Pipeline: Interactive Dialogues
9:40 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. Current Challenges in Major Feeder Blackburn East Ballroom Systems' Treatment of Children and Youth
Major reforms in key contributing factors and feeder systems are urgently needed to halt the Pipeline. This session will focus on interventions and systems which can and must play powerful roles in protecting children from rather than feeding them into and trapping them in the Pipeline. These include the health and mental health care, education, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems. Discussants will share promising strategies from selected communities and states to ameliorate these risks, and provide three major recommendations to redress the Pipeline from the perspective of his/her respective system. Special importance will be assigned to the need for scaling up and linking these strategies to achieve the greatest impact for children and youth and help inform the larger action plan to reroute children to successful adulthood.
Advancing Child Health, Mental Health, Early Childhood Development, Education and Poverty Reduction
Moderator: Confirmation pending Discussants: Jane Knitzer, Executive Director, National Center on Children in Poverty
Bill McNeal, Executive Director, North Carolina Association of School Administrators and former School Superintendent of Wake County, Raleigh, N.C.
Peter Edelman, Co-Director, Task Force on Poverty, Center For American Progress
Others pending confirmation
11:15 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. Break
11:30 a.m. - 12:45 p.m. Improving the Child Welfare, Alcohol and Blackburn East Ballroom Drug Abuse Prevention and Treatment and Juvenile Justice Systems
Moderator: Charles Ogletree, Professor, Harvard Law School
Discussants: Honorable Judith Kaye, Chief Judge of the State of New York William Bell, President and CEO, Casey Family Programs Jeremy Travis, President, John Jay College of Criminal Justice James Forman, Jr. Associate Professor, Georgetown Law School, Co-founder of Maya Angelou Charter School, Washington, DC, and CDF Board Member
1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Luncheon Buffet Blackburn East Ballroom
Invocation - Rev. Gordon Cosby, Church of the Saviour, Washington, DC
2:00 p.m. - 2:15 p.m. Participants Transit to Rankin Chapel
Part V. Bringing Us All Together to Dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline
2:15 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Leaders Needed at the Table of Change Rankin Chapel
Moderator: Confirmation pending Discussants: Ralph F. Boyd, Jr., Executive Vice President, Community Relations, Freddie Mac and Chairman, Freddie Mac Foundation Iva Carruthers, General Secretary Samuel DeWitt Proctor Conference Honorable Donald Cravins, Mayor, Opelousas, LA George Flaggs, Representative, Mississippi State Legislature and Judiciary Committee Chair and Member, Dellums Commission Others pending confirmation
Representatives from selected fields that also must serve as important allies in any initiative to successfully dismantle the Pipeline will discuss how best to mobilize and engage their respective colleagues in our social movement. These key stakeholders include: elected officials, the corporate world, faith community, foundations, juvenile judges and law enforcement officers.
3:30 p.m. - 4:45 p.m. Building the Will to Do What We Know Works Rankin Chapel to Reroute Children to Successful Adulthood
Interactive Session with All Summit Participants
Moderator: Angela Glover Blackwell Summit participants will be encouraged to share insights gleaned from their own leadership roles within initiatives to dismantle the Pipeline.
4:45 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. A Call to Action Rankin Chapel Next Steps to Dismantle the Cradle to Prison Pipeline
Marian Wright Edelman
This is to be an inspirational and motivational closing session, underscoring priority steps needed to dismantle the Pipeline, already identified and discussed, and mobilizing each and every one at the Summit to commit fully to work within their own families, communities and networks to this end.
Thursday, September 27 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Town Hall hosted by Congressional Black Caucus Washington Convention "Unleashing our Power to Dismantle the Center, 801 Mt. Vernon Place NW Prison Pipeline" Washington, DC 20001
Source: Children's Defense Fund
CONTACT: Nayyera Haq of Children's Defense Fund, +1-202-662-3592
The U.S. Conference of Mayors Issues Statement on the Jena 6 Case
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer made the following comments concerning the Jena 6 case, "The Jena 6 refers to six young people from Jena, Louisiana who were charged with various crimes stemming from a racially charged episode at the local high school. Though the incident involves both black and white students, the consequences of each group have been gravely different.
"What this case tells us is that unequal justice is clearly alive and thriving in the United States. The small town of Jena has been thrust into the national spotlight reminding the entire world of the deplorable days when African Americans had limited civil rights and were subjected to random acts of violence without provocation.
"The point that some seem to miss is that the students were given jail time for being involved in a simple high school fistfight. I am not advocating violence, but we should not miss this opportunity to teach children how to properly resolve conflicts and the importance of understanding cultural differences. The long-term implications of allowing the justice system to punish youthful indiscretions hurt us all and deny these young men an opportunity to positively contribute to society.
"Unbelievably, in 2007, it is not at all unusual to hear or see news stories that feature blatant racial bias and injustice. From Don Imus' comments to the current media sensationalization of O.J. Simpson's recent arrest, racial tension in America still persists and exists just below the surface of the American consciousness.
"Fortunately, the media attention on this case has motivated people across this country to engage and influence justice through positive protest. It has also sparked candid conversations about inequalities in our judicial system. Most importantly, it serves as a constant reminder that an attack on civil rights is also an attack on human rights and threatens our American way of life.
"When I was a teen, I was involved in conflicts that sometimes were resolved with violence. I am not proud of this fact. However, I was given an opportunity to learn and grow from my mistakes, which enabled me to become the person I am today.
"Though a state appeals court last Friday reversed the adult conviction of Mychal Bell, he remains incarcerated and deserves a fair trial in a juvenile court. We cannot tolerate unfair and arbitrary application of the law.
"As the President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, I am wearing black today in support of all those who are marching for the Jena 6 and for equal justice for everyone."
Tom Cochran, the Executive Director of the Conference, added, "The United States Conference of Mayors, an organization representing the nation's mayors, has a history and tradition of involvement in civil rights. Since 1963 when President Kennedy put race relations on the Conference's agenda, the organization has actively and collectively championed issues of civil rights all over the country. That tradition continues today as we stand in support of the Jena 6."
The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today, each represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor.
Source: U.S. Conference of Mayors
CONTACT: Elena Temple, +1-202-861-6719, email@example.com, or Ione Hess, +1-202-861-6725, firstname.lastname@example.org, both of U.S. Conference of Mayors
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Coinciding with today's march in Jena, Louisiana, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement in response to a recent ruling from the Louisiana appeals court overturning the verdict against a young student in the Jena 6 case:
"The recent ruling by the appeals court is a positive step towards ensuring that all those involved in the Jena 6 case receive equal justice and fair treatment under the law. Racial discrimination and intolerance have no place in America, particularly not in our judicial system. The decision of the appeals court should not be the last word in this case. A thorough investigation of every aspect of this case is needed to determine if these students received what every American is entitled to: equal treatment under the law, without regard to race. As a country we must continue to work to remedy disparities in our justice system and work to ensure that all Americans are treated equally under the law."
Paid for and authorized by the Democratic National Committee, http://www.democrats.org/. This communication is not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.
Source: Democratic National Committee
CONTACT: Stacie Paxton or Amaya Smith, both of the DNC, +1-202-863-8148
Jena 6: Events Around Nation to Coincide With Sept. 20th Rally in Jena, Louisiana
[Press Release, Events Schedule]
National Day of Action to Support Jena 6 Set for Thursday
September 19, 2007 SAN FRANCISCO - As crowds descend on the small town of Jena, Louisiana for a rally in support of the six young men there who are facing what many have dubbed "Jim Crow" justice, thousands of people will gather at events across America on Thursday, September 20, 2007 in a National Day of Action to support the Jena 6. ColorofChange.org, a national online advocacy organization, is coordinating the National Day of Action in support of the six accused teenagers. Details are below for select events.
"From Los Angeles to Boston, people are standing up today to demand an end to this injustice," said James Rucker, executive director of ColorofChange.org. "People from all walks of life and every corner of this nation are doing their part not only in support of these six young men, but also to change their communities."
ColorofChange.org took the lead in coordinating Thursday's National Day of Action in response to a passionate outpouring by its members to nationalize the Jena 6 rally. As plans for the march and rally in Jena, Louisiana were coming together, thousands of people unable to attend organized bake sales, marches, fundraisers and other events in their own communities to coincide with the larger Jena event. People across the country have expressed a strong desire to extend the event beyond Louisiana, sending a message that it is the entire nation that demands answers from the state's elected officials.
The case of the Jena 6 has garnered attention from local barbershops to national nightly news broadcasts. Last fall, two Black high school students asked for and got permission to sit under the "white" tree on their campus. The next day, white students hung three nooses from that same tree. When Black students protested the light punishment (a 3-day suspension for what school officials called a childish prank) for the noose-hangers, Jena District Attorney Reed Walters came to the school and threatened the students, telling them he could "take [their] lives away with a stroke of [his] pen."
Tensions mounted in the small town. Several cases of off-campus violence against black students were barely punished. When a white student was beaten up after taunting a black victim of the violence, the District Attorney charged six young black men with attempted murder. In June, the first young man to be tried, Mychal Bell, 17, was convicted in adult court by an all-white jury of aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy (which carries a maximum sentence of 22 years). On September 14th, an appeals court judge reversed the conviction on the grounds that Mychal shouldn't have been tried as an adult. However, the DA says he'll appeal the decision, and he still plans to try the other five young men.
For more information, please visit www.freethejena6.org and www.colorofchange.org/jena.
TODAY: Wednesday, September 19, 2007
What: Jena 6 Day of Action Prayer Vigil sponsored by Father Flagran and St. Sabina Church.
Where: Richard J. Daley Center - 50 West Washington Street, Chicago
When: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
What: Jena 6 Day of Action Rally
Where: 5920 Second Ave. (north of Antoinette), Detroit
When: 7:00 PM
Contact: (313) 680-5508 for more information
What: Jena 6 Day of Action Rally
Where: L. Douglas Wilder Center, Norfolk State University - 700 Park Avenue, Norfolk
When: 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Thursday, September 20, 2007
What: Jena 6 Day of Action Rally
Where: 55 Trinity Avenue, S.W.
When: 7:00 AM - 12:00 PM Noon
What: Jena 6 Day of Action Rally sponsored by Friends of Justice and Assemblyman Karim Camara
Who: NYC Councilman Charles Barron, Assemblyman Karim Camara, Donna Nassor - Friends of Justice, Rev. Herbert Daughtry, Rev. Johnny Ray Youngblood, NYC Councilman Al Vann
Where: Steps of Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon Street, Brooklyn
When: 9:30 AM
Little Rock, AR
What: Jena 6 Day of Action Prayer Vigil sponsored by the University of Arkansas of Little Rock Black Law Students Association (University of Arkansas of Little Rock – William H. Bowen School of Law)
Where: MacArthur Park - 503 East 9th Street, Little Rock
When: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
Los Angeles, CA
What: Jena 6 Day of Action March
Where: Starts at Sunset Boulevard and Gower Street; Ends at Sunset Boulevard and Western Avenue
When: 6:00 AM - 8:30 AM
What: Jena 6 Day of Action Rally
Where: 15th Street and Market Street, Downtown Philadelphia
When: 12:00 PM Noon
What: Jena 6 Day of Action Rally sponsored by the Wake-Durham Chapter of Black Workers for Justice, the Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center, and Raleigh Youth
Where: Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center - 4200 Lake Ridge Dr., Raleigh
When: 6:00 PM
What: Jena 6 Day of Action Rally sponsored by A Call To Action
Where: Upper Senate Park, U.S. Capitol, Washington, DC
When: 8:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Contact: Mervyn Marcano, Color of Change - (917) 553-1001
Voice Your Support for the Jena 6 via The Mixtape Show
Dex Digital is working on a Jena 6 Episode of The Mixtape Show and you've got a couple of days to call in and get your thoughts included. Click through to his blog for the number and more info on what you might contribute.
And if you've shown your support for the Jena 6 on your blog or website please let me know so I can include you in Hip Hop Logic and ProHipHop's roundup:
CHICAGO NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK SPEAKS OUT AGAINST POLICE BRUTALITY AND JENA 6 INJUSTICE
Reverend Al Sharpton and Jeri Wright Speak at Community Town Hall Meeting and Rally Against Civil Injustices
(Chicago, September 13, 2007 )— Jeri L. Wright, president of the National Action Network/Chicago Chapter, hosts Rev. Al Sharpton, Chicago residents, and family members of Mychal Bell, the first of the Jena 6 to be tried, for its inaugural community rally and town hall meeting at 3pm., Saturday, September 15, 2007. The rally takes place at Whitney Young High School, located 211 S. Laflin.
NAN/Chicago chapter aims to connect all Chicagoland residents in a call to action against the injustices throughout the city and across America. The community rally takes place in response to recent brutality and homicide cases involving the Chicago Police Department, as well as civil rights violations implicated in the Jena 6 case.
Rev. Sharpton, Jeri L. Wright and other notable community activists will speak at the event. Included on the program will be the parents of Mychal Bell. The NAN/Chicago chapter will also lead a bus convoy to Jena, Louisiana, Wednesday, September 19, and is accepting all donations for the Jena Six Defense Fund.
For more information contact 773.319.1297 or email Chicago@nationalactionnetwork.net. Direct all media inquiries only to La'Keisha Gray-Sewell, 773.577.4600.
About National Action Network
National Action Network (NAN) is an activist- and social justice-oriented organization that was conceived with a focus on ACTION. With the word NATIONAL representing the scope of our activities, and NETWORK reflecting the methodology of expansion, the National Action Network, based in New York, has 35 chapters across the United States.
Concerned about the educational and economic interruption in the lives of these six black young defendants in Jena, LA, the Fathers for the Future Foundation, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit corporation headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, has created a separate scholarship fund to help these youth continue their education after this ordeal has ended. It is the mission of the Fathers for the Future Foundation to educate adult men between the ages of 16 - 30 in financial literacy, parenting, life-skills, and job training.
A delegation from the Fathers for the Future Foundation will serve as Ambassadors for Common Peace at the September 20th, 2007 protest rally of the Jena 6 trial in Jena, Louisiana. J. Michael Carr Jr. and Troy Nkrumah (National Hip Hop Political Convention) will lead this delegation of young people to Jena to monitor, mediate, and demonstrate for the justice of the six youth who are on trial. This delegation includes over 10 young lawyers from around the country who will work as legal observers to ensure that the constitutional rights of the demonstrators are not violated by law enforcement.
Invited by the "Friends of Justice", the actual organization to first break the Jena 6 story to the Chicago Tribune and BBC in December 2006, these Ambassadors For Common Peace will work to promote civility and goodwill at the mobilization in Jena, LA. The hip hop generation has taken a stand to voice their objection to the circumstances around this trial because the impact will have such long term ramifications on American society thus making silence not an option.
The Ambassadors For Common Peace understand that it is the proclivity of both sides to interpret the case based on their own perceptions; however, we would like to state that it is our intention and objective to remain true to the philosophy of nonviolent direct action. Therefore, our focus is to be advocates for peaceful, but vocal demonstration and to discourage those who seek to agitate through the call for violence at the September 20th rally.
"The lives of these six young men are very important to our delegation; and creating opportunities for all men is our ultimate goal", said president and founder of the Fathers for the Future Foundation, J. Michael Carr Jr. "The trial in Jena, LA is only a small aspect of a larger problem that is plaguing the nation. The question is not, how do we prosecute warehouses of our youth, but rather how to nurture them and secure a future of liberty with the pursuit of happiness that is a right of all Americans? Irrespective of race, nationally young men are not being treated respectfully. We demand fairness for young men in urban, suburban, and rural areas alike. Jena, LA is the first stop on our journey to social justice and economic opportunity for our nation's young men".
I'm in the midst of reading Brian Coleman's Check the Technique: Liner Notes for Hip-Hop Junkies and it's really great. From what I've read so far it's well written and well researched but, more importantly, it's reigniting my love for the art of hip hop music.
The basic concept of Check the Technique is that Brian provides the background story on 36 classic hip hop albums based, in part, on interviews with the artists and then follows with their comments regarding each individual track. Chapters vary in length due, in part, to how many people were involved, how much of a career they'd had before the album came out and how the artists' agendas affected the process (in particular, think KRS-One on the last).
Brian does an excellent job of representing different voices and personalities while creating a portrait of how an album came to be in the context of the artists' careers. My only criticism, a relatively minor one, is that I'd prefer that the albums/chapters be ordered by release date rather than alphabetically by artist.
Hearing the stories of how artists create art always gets my excited about the artforms under discussion and, in the case of hip hop, I've been getting a bit burned out because of writing about hip hop business at ProHipHop and having to listen to a wider range of rap than I would personally choose for VidRap and just to keep up. So I found it really fascinating especially since a lot of these guys made their best work when they didn't really know what they were doing. They were simply at the breaking edge of history making it up as they went.
When we get history in high school or on tv it's generally a simplified, cleaned up version that leaves out the messy parts where a lot of the real action occurs. But when we start hearing the stories from the artists themselves and find out that sometimes their lack of knowledge caused them to make mistakes that advanced the art, we develop a much deeper understanding of what artists actually do.
Though a certain amount of beef is represented in Check the Technique, I've been finding more of an emphasis on the many ways artists give respect to those who taught them what they needed to know to move forward. Having read only part of the book it's a real trip to see how many times Jam Master Jay comes up when New York artists are featured. And that's just one example of how Check the Technique can connect the reader with the personal side of hip hop that's meaningful in a way that most media coverage never communicates.
But, to be honest, you will also be regularly reminded that the industry is shady.