The Historic Jena Six March and Tabernacle
Jena Six and Tabernacle
The first 21st Century civil rights demonstration in the United States was held on September 20, 2007 as tens of thousands of African-Americans, mostly young adults, converged on Jena, Louisiana to protest the unjust treatment of six high school students in Jena, La.
Tabernacle play a part in promoting local involvement in the national issue. Our activity was not exclusive, but this report involves the activities of our members in this historic event.
July 20, 2007 Pastor Wright, through his newspaper, Monroe Free Press, began covering activities in the Jena case. He wrote an editorial concerning the case of Mychal Bell in Jena. His editorial was entitled "We cannot afford to ignore the impact of the Jena Six Trial."
August 4, 2007 Bridgette Hudson and Kita Wright attend another meeting with Sharpton and Jena residents. Hudson filed story, "Sharpton calls for justice for Jena Six" for the Monroe Free Press. Kita's photos are picked up by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and other national papers including CBS and ABC news.
August 10-17, 2007: Bridgette Hudson, a reporter for the Monroe Free Press and Kita Wright, on assignment for the Associated Press cover a meeting in Jena with local attorneys. Hudson files a story entitled "Local lawyers leading Jena Six defense." Kita's photos of the town meeting with the Reverend Al Sharpton and others are published around the world by the Associated Press. Robert Kenneth Wright wrote an editorial entitled "Terrorism in Jena."
September 6, 2007: Pastor Wright writes article detailing how some charges are being dropped against Mychal Bell "One Charge Dropped."
September 10, 2007: Melanie Williams sets up a "Face Book" Group on the Internet called "Free Bus Trip from Monroe to Jena" to get University of Louisiana Students to travel to Jena for the September 20th demonstration. Kita's photos of The Reverend Jesse Jackson and Martin Luther King, III meeting with the Jena families are distributed around the world by the Associated Press.
September 16, 2007: Pastor Wright posted an offer for free transportation for ULM students to Jena on the church's highway bus. He posted the offer on his "Face Book" and "Myspace" Pages on the internet. Melanie Williams works with other students at ULM to arrange for buses to carry students to Jena.
September 18, 2007: Melanie became discouraged about lack of interest shown by many ULM students. Delana Minor began helping her talk up the importance of the Jena Six cause in effort to get more students at ULM to participate. Church bus released and opened for others than ULM students. Joslyn Wright began making arrangements to ready the highway bus for travel. Water, food items, hygiene essentials and other supplies were purchased. She began detailing a roll, seating, onboard entertainment and other incidentals for the trip. Phone calls poured in asking for transportation, Joslyn recorded the names.
September 19, 2007: Pastor Wright was quoted extensively in an article about the Jena Six in "The News-Star". Participants from Dallas, Texas, Memphis TN and Columbia all reserved spaces to ride into Jena. Fred Mitchell serviced the bus and prepared it for travel.
September 20, 2007: At 4:30 a.m. Our marchers gathered and loaded on the bus. Among the Tabernacle members riding with us were: Yolanda Anderson, Beverly Glover, Jacacceurum Bradford, Jackie Johnson, Fred Mitchell and Joslyn Wright. Jeremy Taylor, a Top Gun Eagle attending GSU also was among the guests.
5:00 a.m. the bus left Monroe headed toward Jena
5:40: a.m. Riders in Columbia boarded the bus. Pastor Wright and Kita Wright left in seperate units.
6:15 a.m. Our bus arrives in Jena. The traffic has already begun to gather. Buses were appearing from across the country. Our riders were dropped off in front of the court house and Fred and Joslyn parked the bus.
6:45: a.m. Pastor Wright and Kita arrive and position themselves to observe the morning speakers.
7:00 a.m. to 10 a.m. About 2,000 marches were already assembled in front of the courthouse. Newsmedia such as CNN, CBS and many other were on hand.
- Helicopters flew over the growing crowd as buses continued to file in blocking traffic. Traffic is backed up for a mile. Highway buses stop in the middle of main streets. Many demonstrators continue flowing in, some walking from buses two miles away.
- Most demonstrators were wearing black. Many had tee-shirts with slogans such as "Free Jena Six" There were banners and signs from states as far away as Delaware and Alaska.
- The Nation of Islam was on hand to provide speaker security. They were dressed in suits with bowties.
- The crowd has grown to about 3,000 as 30 buses from Atlanta along with buses from Chicago, Detroit and Birmingham continue to arrive.
- Symbols were everwhere: A woman carried a Red, Black and Green flag with Free Jena Six written on it. A man dressed in a KKK suit drew crowds as he held up a tree and five nooses.
- A virtual sea of hand held cameras and cell phones could be seen as cameras were raised high recording the moment for history.
- About 5,000 are now present. The Reverend Al Sharpton arrives with a host of famous names including: Rep. Maxine Waters, Dr. Harry Blake, Martin Luther King, III, Tyler Perry, Dick Gregrory and others.
- Using press passes Pastor Wright and Kita position themselves in front of the podium to observe the rally.
- A contingent of UAW union members from Detroit Region 1 showed up in large numbers chanting.
- The crowd pushes to the center to hear Marcus Jones the father of one of the six boys speak. There were cheers, cameras flashed. Two of the Jena Six members were introduced to the crowd. There were more cheers.
- Mychal Bell's mother and father were introduced. She was overwhelmed. She cried. Her hands were nervous. The tears flowed. There were shouts from the crowd, "We understand."
- Rev. Sharpton spoke and told the crowds that injustice must end. There were chants. Cheers.
- About 9,000 have now arrived.
- The march begins. With all of the national figures leading. Pastor Wright and Kita stayed ahead of the marchers shooting photos. Kita climbed on top of a media truck. Pastor Wright ran to the top of a hill as the crowd slowly wined down the Jena streets.
- The crowd as grown to over 13,000 a few minutes later several thousands more merged into the main march from a different direction. The crowd is now estimated at 18,000 and buses were still arriving.
- After about a mile Sharpton and other national figures are whisked away from the march and carried to the terminal point. Pastor Wright had been running in front of the marchers taking pictures.
- When Sharpton left the marchers were without direction. Police provided no direction as to the march route the crowd was leaderless. Each time the march made it to a turn there was no one present to give directions. The route was not marked.
- Several ministers, including Pastor Wright, The Reverend Walter Jackson of Monroe and the Reverend Micheal Reed from Monroe, took charge lead the march for a while, slowing down its pace and pointing the growing crowd in the right direction.
- The Red Cross from Shreveport distributed water and gatorade to marchers
- After an hour the marcher reach Jena High School only to be joined by yet another wave of about 5,000 marches that came from yet another direction.
- There are now about 23, 000 demonstrators.
- About 300 Black motocylists lead the march into its final turns since there was no police escort.
- At 11:30 a.m. As marchers began to return to the central city they were met by another wave of marchers led by the Reverend Jesse Jackson. The crowd had grown to about 30,000.
- A virtual sea of black tee-shirts covered the city.
- Some white Jena residents greeting marchers from the porches. One resident offered candy and refreshments. Another opene her home to allow marchers to use the rest room. They said, "We are not all like them."
- At lunch marchers produced home made sandwiches, and food items they brought. Only one store was opened but protesters stood in front with a sign asking marches not to buy anything from them. They didn't.
- In the center city, Kita climbed atop a motor home to take photos.
- Pastor Wright helped Monroe resident Robert Clark raise money to fund Mychal Bell's bond. $10,000 was raised in one hour as cash donations poured in from marchers.
- At around 1:15 we began our return journey back to Monroe.
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