Is Jim Crow Alive and6Well?
ERIC L. HINTON
Nooses, suspected arson at the local high school, and six black
teenagers on trial for their lives because of a school fight? In the
Jim Crow era, such tales were commonplace along with lynchings
and cross burnings. But it’s not the 1950s in Jena, La., as Mychal Bell, Carwin
Jones, Theo Shaw, Robert Bailey Jr., Bryant Purvis and an unidentified juve-
nile feared spending the better part of their adult lives behind bars. Bell, who
was the first of the teens initially convicted in the case, faced the possibility of
15 years in prison because of his involvment in that fight, until a state appeals
court tossed out a reduced sentence of aggravated
battery, saying the case should have been tried in
juvenile court from the start.
Why has this case fascinated and repulsed so
many Americans, especially in the black community?
The image of a noose
intimidation and death
in the black community,
as represented by this
archival photograph (see
AP Images inset) of a 1935
lynching that occurred in
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.