With the recent movement for justice in the case of the Jena Six, Louisiana is being revealed for the racist state that it is. The history of slavery and the southern plantation economy runs deep here, and it shows in the small town of Tallulah, devastated by dirty politicians and a huge prison placed right in the heart of the town’s Black community. This town is America in its purest form, so beautiful and ugly at the same time. A train track divides the Black and White parts of town, with the “wrong side of the tracks” symbolism so real here that you forget its 2007. The segregation and look of hatred in the eyes of White residents is a reminder of America’s bloody legacy. Through it all, a coalition of community residents fights to convert the Prison in its backyard into a Success Center; which would constitute a community college providing job training and skilled trade degrees, a center providing social services to the community and an organization actively working to encourage businesses to come to the region.
This is where the movement sparked by Jena should move its attention to. This, which would be the nation’s first prison-to-school conversion, is so much more than a headline. This is a fight to shape the new South. Do we continue to invest in a racist prison industrial complex? Or do we decide to invest in education? The struggle for Tallulah’s future is a struggle for the future of America.
You can read more about this fight here, and if you feel so moved, write a letter to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco and let her know your thoughts on the struggle.
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 94004
Baton Rouge, LA 70804-9004