Jena, Louisiana

Last evening Saturday, December 1, 2007, I would fall asleep watching the
LSU, Tennessee football game. I would be awaken by the Television at about
1:15 AM. I would usually turn the television off, but for some reason, I
began flipping through the channels and came to a channel that I never look
at; VH1, a music video station that caters to younger folks. I have often
said that there is a spiritual force that guides me in most things that I
do. There on the screen was a huge white water tower with the words Jena
clearly written upon it. I had seen that tower before, in fact just last
week, I had been in Jena,where I in my estimation was a place that had
suffered the same kind of malice prompted by those who had come to the South
during the so called period of Reconstruction, and had used as there modus
operandi, a plan to divide and separate, Southern Blacks from Southern
Whites. The show was called the Salt and Pera Show, and was hosted by two
young Black female singers who had gone to Jena and filmed the activities

There standing outside the very courthouse where I had stood wearing the
uniform of the Southern soldier, carrying the Southern Cross was good old Al
Sharpton, along with 30,000 unsuspecting duped Black citizens who had gone
to Jena with no malice in their hearts to undo what they felt had been an
injustice perpetrated against six young Black men who in essence had
committed a terrible crime ; singing a message about two wrongs don’t make a
right, and that the presence of all these Black folks marked the beginning
of a new civils rights era. The two young ladies would talk about freeing
the so called Jena 6, while indicating that justice would be done by doing
so. One lady in an obscene moment that would be repeated several times;
would point to her breast and began shaking them up and down, while
indicating that this was for the Jena 6. Pera and Salt even wrote what they
called a song to free the so called Jena 6, and had brought their children
to Jena to witness history in the making. Moments later the cameras would
turn to an interview with two middle aged Black women, one of which I
believe to be the mother of Mr. King, the young man who I shall refer to as
the bad seed, who led the other 5 men to this tragic event. They would stand
outside the fence where the susposed White tree had stood; indicating that
they too had gone to the High school and had witnessed the White kids siting
under this tree, and that Jena was a racist town. The interviewer asked of
them both; if Jena was so racist, why didn’t you pack up and leave. There
answer resembled a car that won’t start.

Pizza Hut sponsored this documentary, and VH1 carried it as if this was the
whole story about the people of Jena, and that these 6 young men ought to be
viewed as some kind of heroes for their actions, especially for exposing
this racist town and the mean White folks and their families that inhabit
it.The news media had a field day and VH1 continued to sponsor great
distortions as if they represented the truth, and those who hate all things
Southern had a field day; the parents of the 6, got their new cars paid from
the defense fund, the New Black Panther Party spread their message of hate
Whitey, and Al got a bigger pay day, and Oparah turned her bus around when
she found out as I had done; the whole truth had not been told in Jena.

I, along with my new found friend and brother; Danny McDowell from Grayson,
Louisiana, just thirty minutes down the road, stood on the very same corner
confabulating with the people of Jena, and learned a different tale. This
young man, Mr.King had a record that no parent would be proud of; he had
even tried to burn the High School down, along with other criminal
activities. These young people who hang the noose from the tree, had no
malice in their hearts. It was all about a football game; hang the cowboys
that they were about to play. A young White boy would exit the school,
having not even hung the noose, he became a target of opportunity for the
bad seed. He was knocked unconscious and beaten while unable to even fend
off the stomping and kicking that he received as he lay, by the other 5
young men who had been coerced into doing something that was not of their
character. Danny and I would be told by a very nice young White girl who
would bring us coffee and doughnuts as we stood on the courthouse grounds,
that she had lunch everyday under that tree with her two best friends, who
just happened to be Black. Never was that told, and more and more people
would come and tell us of the warm and cordial relationships that they had
with the Black populous of Jena. None that I talked to felt that their town
was racist.

I cannot argue the legal parameters of this case, but I shal argue that Al,
VH1, Salt and Pera, and Piza Hut who aired this documentary did this quiet
little town and it’s citizens a terrrible injustice by dipicting them as
something that they are not. As a former NAACP President, I learned a long
time ago, that many parents will stand up for their children, even when in
their hearts they know that they were wrong, and when Mr.King extended his
hand to Danny and I in friendship, I had the feeling that the man who was
before me, knew his son, and his friends had done a terrible wrong.

As a past NAACP President, just like members of school boards, parents, and
other civic leaders will tell you; when they visit our now integrated
schools; Black children will usually congregate in groups together, and
Whites will usually follow in suit. However, there will surely be those who
will mix together , and have some very loving relationships. Pizza Hut and
VH1, if you choose to view this kind of documentary, coporate social
responsibility should dictate that you tell the story from the other side. I
would like to think that the Jena 29 ( Danny McDowell and myself ) who would
find themselves basking in the love shown them by the people of Jena, and
captured by Channel 10 News, an NBC affiliate in Monroe, Louisana is closer
to the truth than anything that Al, Salt and Pera have told, and as so many
citizens of Jena would express; who would have thought that a Black man
carrying the Confederate Battle Flag and a White man standing with him, on
the lawn where such much animosity had been spunned, had come to Jena,
exonerating her citizens from all the harm that had been done.

HK Edgerton

By |2007-12-04T16:34:00+00:00December 4th, 2007|News|Comments Off on News 429