Friday, September 21, 2007


Tens of thousands gathered in Jena, Louisiana yesterday and you can read all about it everywhere on the web so there is little reason for me to duplicate what so many others have done.

I've decided to go with a related story from Spartanburg, South Carolin where a Junior High kid decided he wanted to do something about injustice and went out and organized an interesting protest of his own.

The good news is this was one of many places around the country where young people organized themselves to express what they feel about the injustice in Jena.

Students in Ohio took to the street in front of Twinsburg High at the end of the school day Thursday all clad in black, to join the national day of protest for the Jena Six. The Twinsburg High students (some pictured here) marched with signs, chanting ''Free Jena Six.'' Motorists driving along the road honked their horns and a group of students in front of the Twinsburg middle school cheered as the high school students passed by.

Dorian Price, 18, told the Beacon Journal some people don't know what is going on in Jena.

''What is being done in Louisiana is not fair. It's not right. It's not just. I was taught that when you believe in something, you have to take a stand,'' said Dorian, who is black. ''There were people years ago who marched so that I could be here in a school with kids of different races. Now, I'm marching to say that there are still wrongs that need to be made right. If everybody takes a stand, they will have no other choice but to correct this injustice.''

The following is from the Herald-Journal Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Teen organizes peaceful protest at McCracken for Jena 6
'Hold your head up,' mother encourages 15-year-old
By Jessica L. De Vault

As thousands of people rallied Thursday in Jena, La., one student 735 miles away in Spartanburg organized a silent protest of his own with scores of his McCracken Junior High School classmates.

Christopher Gentry, a 15-year-old ninth-grader, and his peers participated in "Black Thursday." People across the country wore black clothing in support of the Jena 6, a group of six black teenagers accused of attacking a white classmate.

Christopher estimated that at least half of the students at McCracken were involved in the demonstration, showing up at school in black ensembles.

"It wasn't just a black people thing," he said. "We got everyone involved."

More than 60 percent of the school's 523 students are white and about 36 percent are black, according to the state Department of Education.

Christopher said he was moved when he first learned of the Jena 6 case. "I didn't think it was right that these kids were being tried as adults," he said.

When he told his mother, Vanessa Anderson, about his feelings about the case, she wanted him to be involved but driving to Jena was not an option. So Christopher invited his friends to wear black on the day of the rally in support of "Black Thursday."

Gathering momentum

"Once I told my closest friends, we spread it around the whole school," he said. "I put it on my MySpace page, put sticky notes on lockers and passed out notes."

Once Thursday came, Christopher was nervous about his decision. As a football player for Spartanburg High School, he was required to wear his jersey that day, and Anderson said getting in trouble was the last thing her son wanted.

"I told him, 'Hold your head up; you've done nothing wrong,' " Anderson said. "I love McCracken and am very supportive of it, but I'm also supportive of my child. I don't want his beliefs to be stifled."

Christopher's worries began to change when he saw students dressed in black begin to filter through the school's hallways.

Principal Jeff Stevens declined to allow a reporter or photographer on the school's premises to speak with students who had participated in the silent protest.

"We want to keep this separate from school and the educational learning environment," Stevens said. "But everything ran smooth and normal as it always does."

The peaceful end to the day made Christopher even prouder of his first organized protest, and he's glad his classmates participated.

"In the morning, we told folks that it's not about the rallying," Christopher said.

"Just by us wearing black, it's making a statement."

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