Saturday, June 8, 2013

Remembering James Byrd Jr.

On Sunday, June 7, 1998 James Byrd Jr., father of three, accepted a ride from three men in the small town of Jasper, Texas. The men, aged 23 to 31 years old, agreed to take Byrd home but instead traveled to a remote road out of town where they beat him and tied his ankles to the back of the truck. They drove for more than three miles before James died, then dumped his body outside an African-American church. While investigating, police found 81 separate locations with remains of Byrd along the road.

All three men were convicted of the murder and two were sentenced to death.

The brutality of the murder cannot be understated and Byrd’s story received international coverage, reminding us that there are still people who believe that African-Americans do not deserve dignity or respect. 

''The kind of racial problems we had here were the kinds of things where you wouldn't get the promotion or the right jobs,'' Mary Verrett, Byrd’s sister, said. ''In all the time I grew up, there was never any outright bigotry, and none of us were afraid to walk the street. In fact, you could say we were pretty happy.''

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