Hayward Fair and the Fight For Schools, Not Jails

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“All the eyes of the world is focused on the Jena Six. But every small community in the south, and in the north, has its Jena Six. Maybe you can’t visualize it or maybe you don’t want to visualize it, but this is not just small rural towns. Look at New Orleans, during the storm. When the people was trying to cross the bridge to get out of the flood, there were people on the other side, armed, that would not let them cross. In the rest of the nation people are being treated the same way. Chicago, New York, it don’t matter where you are.

“I’m gonna do what I know is right, and I don’t care who you are. I see the young people in the community that need help. That’s what keeps me going. If you see something and you feel it aint right, don’t say they ought to change it, get in there, roll your sleeves up and say lets change it. That’s the only way. You gotta keep a cool head and do the thing that’s right. When you know right and fight for it, you’re gonna win.”

~ Hayward Fair

Although much attention gets placed on the large metropolitan cities of the world, the small Louisiana towns of Jena and Tallulah demonstrate that equally (if not more so) important battles for social justice are being fought in the small rural towns as well.

Hayward Fair is a civil rights movement veteran and a personal hero of mine (he is pictured above, second from the left). At nearly 70 years old and still going strong, he has been at the center of community organizing efforts in Tallulah to convert the notoriously abusive prison there into a “Success Center” that will provide vocational training, social services, educational opportunities and business creation for the largely impoverished, largely Black region. Our boy Jordan Flaherty of Left Turn Magazine recently wrote up a great article profiling Mr. Fair and Tallulah’s fight. If you’ve got a few minutes of free time, definitely check it out as its a great snapshot of the work happening there.

The prison industrial complex is a beast that is swallowing up more and more people everyday. As of this writing, the Board of Regents of Higher Education in Louisiana has stated plans to tear down the barbed wire fences of Tallulah’s prison by the end of the year. Let’s hope that Tallulah can show the rest of the world that education is the path out of poverty and onto success, not prison. Keep up the good work, Mr. Fair, and good luck; although as he would say, “Luck ain’t got nothin to do with it.”

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4 responses to “Hayward Fair and the Fight For Schools, Not Jails

  1. u and g are some sexy bastards chendo. i cannot stress how dope it is that yall were a part of this project. i feel privileged to know such thoughtful, strong, compassionate & progressive brothers like yall. have a blessed day bruh and check out my blog on “McDummy.”

    off to the races like monta ellis,
    senbei

  2. I don’t know if you have seen the Salt-N-Pepper reality show on VH1, but they did an episode featuring the ladies visiting Jena in support of a rally for the Jena Six. They went down with their kids to support the Six and even created their own Jena Six remix of “Push It.” It brings the issue to the attention of a large (young) audience from the perspective of Jena Six supporters and the parents of those locked up, which I don’t see on maistream media. They showed the school, the tree, met the parents. I got a better sense of the racial climate in Jena/ the South and how far we haven’t come, which I often forget in this Bay Area/Cali bubble. It’s a good reminder and from VH1! Who woulda thunk. If you get a chance to watch it I would be interested to hear what you think.

  3. off the races like monta ellis indeed. Go Warriors!

    peace,
    much love,
    amanda

  4. I did peep that Salt-N-Pepa episode actually. The fact that the issue could get air time on a mainstream reality show is a testament to the activism that was done to get the story heard. The mainstream news really did not want to cover the story until months after the incident had occurred. It took tons of activism, a lot of it through blogging and online campaigning, to raise awareness and force the country to take notice.

    What is interesting to me is the crucial battles being waged in the small, rural towns of the South. A friend of mine who works in New Orleans says that if a mass movement for social justice was to pop off in this country, she thinks it would be in the rural South and it would be around the criminal justice system because it is such a blatantly direct extension of slavery. Take Tallulah, for example. This little town could be the site of the first ever prison-to-school conversion in this country’s history! That’s huge news and would be such a contrast to the present trend of cutting education funding while increasing prison development. All of it reminds me that although the focus gets put on the urban areas of the country, with equally important battles of their own, its good to recognize the important work happening everywhere, from the smallest of towns to the largest of cities.

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