Did Civil Rights movement pass Louisiana by?
Racist incident leads to harsh justice for black students
August 30, 2007
BY MARY MITCHELL Sun-Times Columnist
When I ran across a tale on the Internet about six African-American teens from Jena, La., who are facing decades of prison time for allegedly beating up a white classmate, I couldn't believe their ordeal started with a tree.
A tree holds powerful symbolism for black people. While traveling in the South, legendary singer Billie Holiday saw a tree that inspired her to write "Strange Fruit," a song which contains references to lynching.
Still, it is difficult to comprehend that in 2007, black students at any high school in America felt compelled to go to a school official and ask if it would be OK to sit in the shade of a tree usually enjoyed by white students.
There's no dispute that is what happened on Aug. 31, 2006 in Jena, a town with a population that is about 85 percent white and 12 percent black.
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