Scar tissue, just down the road in Louisiana

Sept. 20, 2007
As thousands gather in central Louisiana today in support of the Jena 6, I am reminded of the summer of 1971 and what took place just down the road from Jena, Louisiana.
My friend Mary, with her bright-red hair in Natchitoches, was dating a good-looking black man. But this was central Louisiana and the Ku Klux Klan was still recording our names on their hit list of people to be killed. What we did were simple things, organizing food baskets for those without food and occasional race unity picnics. It seemed to us these were pretty small offenses to attract a place on the Ku Klux Klan hit list. But things grew worse, in the end, they chased Mary and her boyfriend out of town with rotten tomatoes and eggs. Mary, in her old convertible, fled to the sunshine state of Arizona. Would anyone have imagined then, that after 36 more years of civil rights struggles, that once again, buses would be rolling into central Louisiana today. Looking out on a world scale, it seems so odd that the U.S. is still claiming to be able to fix the world's problems, when the wound of racism in America festers beneath all this scar tissue. In America, it is always more about television and Hollywood, than about the cold facts and reality.
--Brenda Norrell


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