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Voices of Trinity: Jena Six, Part II


Continuing this week’s commentary on Constitution Day and the Case of the Jena Six, below are additional comments from Trinity students and others in the Trinity community…

From Tiffani N. Martin:

“The Constitution Day question for discussion: did the defendants known as the Jena 6 receive the Due Process and Equal Protection of the Laws guaranteed to all citizens by the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States? No, due process and equal protection of the laws guaranteed to all citizens by the 14th Amendement of the US constitution was eluded in this case–intentionally. This case’s most salient issue here is that although the US has laws and a constitution, these perfunctory laws are merely “words on paper” and never make the mandatory transition from a written document to a believed and respected ideology/way of living for many citizens…”

From DeMetria L. White:

“I’m not 100% sure as to all the details of the case, because there are so many conflicting stories as to what is truly happening. From what I have heard and read thus far, I believe that it is really embarrassing for us as a country …It amazes me that even after The NAACP, The Civil Rights movement, The Freedom Riders, and so many others that have fought and died for everyone to be equal, we still look at each other as the enemy. Living within Washington, DC we are sort of blinded by the blatant hatred and ignorance that has the chance to manifest around us. As an African American female it hurts my feelings when I hear and read stories like this. Though I will not give these young men all the glory because they were involved in a fight, I find it hard to believe that the others who participated in the other incidents were just given a tap on the back of the head as if to say you were wrong, but we will pretend we did not see anything. … I think everyone involved with this case needs support and prayer. I pray that these young black men take from this experience that even though there was prejudice and hatred against them, that they will not continue to fuel what is ultimately tearing us apart. I hope that the judicial system in Jena wakes up and understands that with this case the whole country as well as part of our world is now looking at them through a magnifying glass now; what is happening there is reflecting on us as a whole. We are already under a microscope for what is going on in the Middle East, but now we are being looked at as if we were looking at what is going on in Darfur. I think anyone who is an American should be ashamed by this case, as well as how we have let hate and racism grow and become how we are defined.”

From Mary Jo Harrigan:

“It is very difficult to comprehend that things like this happen in today’s world. How could the public defender not even call one witness? Why was there an all white jury? Why is this not on every news station nightly? It feels very 1960s. We cannot allow this kind of thing to happen, especially here in America. We are supposed to be this super-power, protecting freedom everywhere, yet six black high school students get expelled and charged with second degree murder (even though it has since been dropped) for a white kid who got beat up? After the white students who hung nooses on a tree got a few days of suspension? Why? This is not the America that I grew up in. This is not the America that I want my little sisters growing up in. This is not the example of freedom we should be setting for the rest of the world. We have great power, and with that comes great responsibility. This is not a new concept. Why was Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. murdered? Why did a tired black woman who refused to move to the back of the bus receive both the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal? Did everything they worked for mean so little? Does Brown v. Board of Ed. apply only to the classroom and not to common areas? We have country men and women half-way around the world fighting, dying so others can live freely. Are they doing so in vain?”

From Camille Meeks:

“I strongly believe that the Jena 6 did not receive the Due Process and Equal Protection of the laws guaranteed to all citizens by the 14th amendment of the US Constitution. First of all, those African American students were the victims. Their lives were not only threatened when the nooses were hung, but also when the local DA went to the school and told them to stop causing problems because he can “end their lives with the stroke of a pen.” There were also other reported incidents that demonstrated the extreme racism against the Black students. There were cases in which two Black students “were threatened with a sawed-off shotgun in a convenient store.” The fact that the white students received less punishment also and they caused more damaged demonstrate an even greater proof of racism. It is now 2007 and such racist events are still occurring, but it is up to the entire community (no matter your background), to unite and take a stand against racism. As a black student, I am prepared to fight against racism!”

From Kelli L. Gaines:

“In my opinion the group known as the Jena 6 had their right of the equal protection law by the 14th Amendment of the Constitution in a way revoked. No one came to the rescue of Mychal Bell when he was beaten up at a party by a white student. No one came to the rescue of the black students at a convenience store when a white man pulled out a shot gun and threatened their lives, but charges were filed for the theft of the gun against the black students because they were able to wrestle him to the ground and take away the gun. So how is it that a white student whose life was supposedly in dangered, when he was beaten up by the Jena 6, was well enough that evening to go to a school dance that same evening. Jim Crow still runs the south!”

More comments to come later this week. If you would like to send a comment to post here, please click on the small envelope icon below, or email

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: