Chants echoed across campus as students rallied to support and pray for six black students who were involved in a racially charged altercation in Jena, La.”Freedom for the 6, freedom for all!” was the chant shouted by about 50 people at the peace rally behind the Brite Divinity School on Thursday in an effort to express opinions concerning the six men, called the “Jena 6.”
The controversy started last year when a group of three white students hung nooses from a tree at Jena High School in reaction to school administrators’ decision to let black students sit there, according to a Sept. 20 CNN article. About three months later, the Jena 6 were accused of beating a classmate and were originally charged with murder and conspiracy, according to CNN.
According to USA Today, Mychal Bell, then 16, was the only one of the six boys convicted as an adult on an aggravated second-degree battery count, but the conviction was overturned last week because the state appeals court said he should not have been tried as an adult. According to USA Today, Bell remains in jail while prosecutors prepare an appeal. Bell has been unable to meet the $90,000 bond.
The TCU rally was held under a tree behind the Brite Divinity School to symbolize the Jena 6 events.
Junior nursing major Aminat Lawal said she came to the rally to support the cause. She said she can’t believe how unfair the men are being treated and how they were sentenced.
Louis Carr Jr., vice president of the Black Seminarians Union and a graduate student at Brite, said people need to take a stand and fight “strategically and precisely.” He said racism is still a problem, proving “Satan is a reality.”
“They were prosecuted rather harshly and were misrepresented at their school,” Carr said.
President of the Black Seminarians Union, Cynthia Cole, said what happened in Jena proves racism still exists, and hosting this rally allowed her to show students at TCU exactly that.
“We want to accomplish solidarity at this rally to raise consciousness that racism is still alive in every aspect of America,” Cole said.
Juan Floyd-Thomas, associate professor of history, said: “Just because Mychal Bell, one of the young men from the Jena 6, has been freed of charges, doesn’t mean that he is out of incarceration.”
Megan Lilburn, a graduate student at Brite, said she was at the rally as a supporter. She said she disagrees with the injustice of the situation involving the Jena 6 and being silent about the issue is wrong.
Joel Saucedo, a graduate student at Brite and president of the Brite Latino/Latina Student Association, said he attended the rally to stand in solidarity with “his black brothers and sisters.”
He said many people forget segregation was an issue in schools 50 years go.
“My people have also been suppressed, suffered injustice,” Saucedo said. “I can fully relate to the story of injustices.”
Carr said the district attorney needs to be willing to stand for justice.
“To see freedom for the Jena 6, we must see freedom for all,” Carr said.