September 19th, 2007
01:17 PM ET
15 years ago

Edwards calls for racial justice for 'Jena 6'

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Wednesday called the "Jena 6" case "so wrong that the right words are hard to find.”

"As someone who grew up in the segregated South, I feel a special responsibility to speak out on racial intolerance," Edwards said. "To measure our progress in the fight against racism, today our nation looks to Jena, Louisiana. Americans of all races are traveling to Jena because they believe that how we respond to the racial tensions in Jena says everything about who we are as a nation."

- CNN Associate Producer Lauren Kornreich

Filed under: John Edwards
soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. Coach Haughton

    Ok, as an Iowa Voter I can see this kind of maneuvering from HRC, but I expected more from John.
    My vote is for Obama now.

    September 19, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  2. Tony....Louisville, Ky.

    Edwards is an idiot! He has no "special resonsibility" to speak out on racial matters. What he needs to do is tell these idiot parents that what happened in the past is over. Tell those parents to STOP using slavery as an excuse to harm others.
    If Black AND White parents would teach their kids right from wrong, this wouldnt be an issue! This isnt a RACE problem, its a "parental" problem! You want the problem to go away? Start busting up ALL(black and white) "gangs",Then start teaching our kids to actually CARE about other human beings of ALL races.

    September 19, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  3. Doug, Ventura, CA

    Wow, what a great way to say something without really saying something. Way to play it safe, John.

    September 19, 2007 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  4. James, Phoenix AZ

    Wow John, here I thought ALL violence should not be tolerated – regardless of race, gender, etc.

    I guess when you're running for President you'll defend violent behavior if the offenders come from a voting block you're courting?

    September 19, 2007 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  5. Doug, Ventura, CA

    What bothers me most is how politicians continue to speak for their majority all for the cause of elections. The worst perpetrator of racism is Jessie Jackson. The media continues to measure everything against race. No wonder the color lines cannot be erased. And Jessie even suggesting Obama is acting white. How do white people act, Jessie? Like they are the only ones trying to erase color lines? What those kids did was wrong. They should be punished, no matter what color they are. And I agree with Tony that parents need to better teach their kids tolerance. And Jessie needs to learn how to erase the color lines.

    September 19, 2007 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  6. Eduardo, Los Angeles, CA

    Bla, bla, bla....spoken like a true politician!

    September 19, 2007 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  7. Jeff Spangler, Arlington, VA

    A bunch of black kids allegedly beat a white kid senseless over their claimed turf under a tree. While the hanging of a noose in that tree by unknown persons is hateful and possibly criminal, it does not justify a beating.

    It is unbelievable that a has-been [flatula] like Jesse Jackson can whine and all the Dem candidates jump to his side. I expected Edwards to stay above this and suspend judgment like any good lawyer.

    September 19, 2007 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  8. Cathy M in Tn

    This shouldn't be about racial tension. This should be about how to raise your children to do better then this no matter what their color. How about universal parenting classes and health care? Lord knows we could use both in this country!

    September 20, 2007 12:04 am at 12:04 am |
  9. John Edwards, Not Viable

    I would like to clarify my position – I am not for the Jena 6...nor am I against them...there are racial tensions – and I am from the south...Elizabeth and I will be eating at the McDonalds on Highway 150 this afternoon. Did that help clarify (Democrats...will answer yes....even though nothing was said...nice!)

    September 20, 2007 10:23 am at 10:23 am |
  10. Angry, Washington DC

    To John Edwards. Please have some conviction. Take a stand on this issue becuase you have more facts than most. You know that many of your white supporters are not armed with the facts....give that to them. Let them know that you will stand for ALL Americans and arm them with the truth of Jena. Please do not hide behind the sheild of ambiguity or duplicity to avoid getting your hands dirty.

    I expect more from you than that.

    September 20, 2007 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  11. Dwayne, Chicago IL

    I'm sorry but when is it okay to beat someone to near death because of what they said. This rally that everyone is standing behind is proof that any black person can do whatever they want scream race and every politican along with Jessie and Al will jump right in. Granted there was some very harsh tactics happening at the school but never the less those boys nearly killed someone. Oh but wait I forgot they were repressed and there great great great grandfather was a slave oh well let them go...

    September 20, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  12. NotMadd but Black and Aware, Little Rock, Arkansas

    John Edwards did what any good politician would do... Represent the thoughts of the people.

    The issue with the Jena 6 is not about letting them off with a slap on the wrist... It's about parity in our judicial system, something any semi-intelligent citizen (and many of our family abroad) realizes does not exist in this country.

    And the fact that the young man was doing the electric slide at a party later on that night indicates that he wasn't "that" messed up.... typical high school beating.

    September 20, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. Tee, Atlanta, Ga.

    I see it's true, racism, ingnorance and denial still exist. No one said Jena 6 had the right to beat that boy. However, that boy was no where nere death other than in his head. Any fool could see from looking at those bruises he just got beat up, by kids at school. A school yard fight, you win some and you loose some. He lost but assured he will never make insensitive marks again to anyone. No one was trying to kill him. If six boys jumped him, with him on the ground, with intent to kill, he would be dead or in ICU. Instead the hospital patched him up in a couple of hours and he went partying that night. You don't see half dead kids in party's too often. Please! These were some high tempered boys. There was tension and both sides reacted. Justin was taunting Robert about getting whipped by 3 white men (event occurred weeks or days earlier), of which, the men were given probation, while the bb was sent home bruised. Why would Justin be so specific in repeatedly stating "white man", if he wasn't trying to stir up racial tension? I no kids taunt each other after loosing fights but how many times do you hear a kid specify the race of the fight winner? He was asked to shut up but he wouldn't. Also, during this time, 3 of the bb's were confronted by a white student with a shot gun at the gas station. This confrontation was referenced to the fight at the party. The bb's wrestled the gun away from the wb. However, the bb's were later charged with theft by taking, disorderly conduct and some other chumped up charges, while the wb was never charged. The tension from the nooses and all events up til that very moment was enough for some of the boys. They then realized racism does exist and were tired of being its' victims they had had enough and decided to fight back.

    Do you still not see why we say justice is blind in America? First off, what is a minor doing riding with a shot gun anyway? That should've been the prosecutor's first question and 1rst charge. If you can answer that with a legit answer, I might listen. The bb's are awaiting trial for that petty mess. The white boys weren't charged or given light charges. Why is this D.A. charging the black kids and not the white kids? It's the same exact crime but with a double standard. In addition Purvis (one of the Jena 6) said he wasn't involved in the fight just witnessed the ending.

    All these kids black and white deserve punishment! No one should be looked at any differently if legal punishment is going to be issued. "Justice for

    Oh, quick note, "Justin" the alledged victim has since been expelled from Jena High for having a shot gun on campus and has since dropped out of school. His before and after are the same. Therefore, where is he innocent?

    Give yourselves a race survey. Question your answers and inner thoughts. Afterwards swift the roles of this entire Jena 6 situation, with your kids being Jeana. A lot of you will be surprised with your outcome. Good Luck!

    September 21, 2007 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  14. John Lucio, San Antonio, TX

    All racist people listen up: Allow Jesus Christ to enter your lives, and accept Him as your Lord & Savior, and you will be filled with a love for all races and skin colors–black, white, Jewish, Arabic, Oriental, whatever! We were all created in God's image. Read the bible–even if you might find it confusing and contradicting at first!–find a good church in your area to attend, and give yourself a chance of the hatred that is running through your veins. There are many good churches out there, but if you can't seem to find one in your area that you will feel comfortable attending at first, find one on the internet like this one, for instance– - or this one– Where you can see some really good sermons on video. You need Jesus in order to depart from hatred and all the other kinds of evil. I will be praying for you.

    September 22, 2007 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  15. Vicky

    There was no "schoolyard fight" as a result of nooses being hung on a whites-only tree.

    Justin Barker, the white victim, was cold-cocked from behind, knocked unconscious and stomped by six black athletes. Barker, luckily, sustained no life-threatening injuries and was released from the hospital three hours after the attack.

    A black U.S. attorney, Don Washington, investigated the "Jena Six" case and concluded that the attack on Barker had absolutely nothing to do with the noose-hanging incident three months before. The nooses and two off-campus incidents were tied to Barker's assault by people wanting to gain sympathy for the "Jena Six" in reaction to Walters' extreme charges of attempted murder.

    Much has been written about Bell's trial, the six-person all-white jury that convicted him of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery and the clueless public defender who called no witnesses and offered no defense. It is rarely mentioned that no black people responded to the jury summonses and that Bell's public defender was black.


    November 14, 2007 12:22 am at 12:22 am |