Posted on June 2, 2010 by eric
The New York Times reports on the continuing practice of excluding African-Americans from juries in Southern states. The article is based on a study by the Equal Justice Initiative:
During two years of research in eight southern states (Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Tennessee), EJI interviewed over 100 African-American citizens who were excluded from jury service based on race and reviewed hundreds of court documents and records. EJI uncovered shocking, present-day evidence of racial discrimination in jury selection, including:
• Racially biased use of peremptory strikes and illegal racial discrimination in jury selection remains widespread, particularly in serious criminal cases and capital cases. Hundreds of people of color called for jury service have been illegally excluded from juries after prosecutors asserted pretextual reasons to justify their removal.
• Prosecutors have struck African Americans from jury service because they appeared to have “low intelligence,” wore eyeglasses, walked in a certain way, dyed their hair, and countless other reasons that the courts have rubber-stamped as “race-neutral.”
• Some district attorney’s offices explicitly train prosecutors to exclude racial minorities from jury service and teach them how to mask racial bias to avoid a finding that anti-discrimination laws have been violated.
• In some communities, the exclusion of African Americans from juries is extreme. For example, in Houston County, Alabama, 8 out of 10 African Americans qualified for jury service have been struck by prosecutors from death penalty cases. In Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, there is no effective African American representation on the jury in 80 percent of criminal trials.
• Many defense lawyers fail to adequately challenge racially discriminatory jury selection because they are uncomfortable, unwilling, unprepared, or not trained to assert claims of racial bias.
• There is wide variation among states and counties concerning enforcement of anti-discrimination laws that protect racial minorities from illegal exclusion.
Filed under: In Dubious Battle | Tagged: courts, law, racist crap, southern living | Leave a Comment »
Posted on November 28, 2009 by eric
Danbury, NC is a pretty little town along the Dan River, just about an hour’s leisurely drive northwest of my home. I passed through there today, and stopped to take some pictures of the Stokes County Courthouse (built in 1904).
In front of the courthouse stands this memorial to local Confederate war dead. A central monument displays the Confederate flag and an engraving of a Confederate soldier.
An inscription on the back reads, “From Manassas to Gettysburg. From Gettysburg to Appomatox.” A surrounding circle of smaller markers bear the names of Confederate army units in which Stokes County men served.
A few feet away, grimy and decrepit, stands the base of a memorial for WWI dead; whatever once stood atop the base appears to be long gone. The contrast with the shiny and well-kept Confederate memorial (erected in 1990) is striking.
While the Confederate memorial declares itself to be “In Honor of All Who Served”, that isn’t quite true. I don’t know whether there were any sons of Stokes County among the thousands of North Carolinians who fought on the Union side. But I have no doubt that Stokes County sent its share of citizens to fight in the Spanish-American War, World War II, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Yet, the service and sacrifices of those men and women who fought for their country go entirely unmarked, while those who took up arms against it get the honors.
Filed under: Look Homeward Angel | Tagged: history, north carolina, photography, southern living, war | 6 Comments »
Posted on November 15, 2009 by eric
Posted on June 7, 2009 by eric
Muddy Waters Coffee Shop, State Highway 61, Charleston, SC
We saw the band setting up, but unfortunately didn’t have time to hear them play. Young Alfie loved the paintings. And the coffee and snacks were very good.
Filed under: Where the Wild Things Are | Tagged: art, food, music, southern living, travel | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 7, 2009 by eric
Posted on July 4, 2008 by eric
Jesse Helms represented the ugliest parts of my adopted home state’s history. The only thing sad about his death is that it did not occur several decades earlier.
(Thanks to LGM for the links to Mother Jones and Salon.)
Filed under: Look Homeward Angel | Tagged: north carolina, politics, racist crap, southern living | 2 Comments »
Posted on February 25, 2008 by eric
In today’s mail, I received a free issue of Garden & Gun, a magazine devoted to “21st Century Southern America”. I’ve never heard of it before, but it looks like a good read. True to the name, there are articles about both gardens (South Carolina architect John Paul Huguley’s garden follies) and guns (quail hunting in Thomasville, Georgia). But the coverage also includes such topics as slow food in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Morgan Freeman’s blues club in Clarksdale, Mississippi; bird fighting in Puerto Rico; NASCAR; and (most important of all) plenty of fishing.
Filed under: Look Homeward Angel | Tagged: gardening, huntin' shootin' & fishin', reading, southern living | Leave a Comment »
Posted on October 2, 2007 by eric
A letter in today’s Greensboro News & Record touches on a touchy issue for non-evangelicals living in the South:
The God I already have suits me fine, thanks
Lately, small groups of well-dressed, soft-spoken folks have knocked on our door.
They come bearing a message: Commit to their god. That would be my only path to heaven. So, I can surmise where I am heading.
When they left, I felt lousy. After living a long, honorable life, I was doomed. Why do people challenge another man’s faith?
I am a World War II veteran, pretty much set in my ways. I don’t do change easily. I admit that I switched from Pepsi to Coke, and when I smoked cigarettes, I tried different brands.
But to switch gods — that’s a bit much.
Even if I were to entertain this idea, what would I say to my God? “I found a better god?”
That’s ludicrous. God is God. Or, are there different gods for different faiths?
Is heaven crowded? Or is the spirit of God universal?
In the interim, God told me that “heaven awaits.”
I think I will maintain the status quo. Peace.
In my case, I gave up cola, cigarettes, and god altogether. I might humbly suggest to Mr. Roseman, “try it, you’ll like it.” But, for those who insist on believing in a higher power, I offer this anthem from Jens Lekman.
Filed under: Look Homeward Angel | Tagged: annoyances, greensboro, religion, southern living | 1 Comment »
Posted on July 1, 2007 by eric
Our route today took us past Johnson Bible College, just outside of Knoxville. As we passed, I idly wondered whether the school has taken its motto from Psalms 23:4.
Filed under: Where the Wild Things Are | Tagged: religion, southern living, travel | Leave a Comment »
Posted on June 14, 2007 by eric
In an example of fortuitous timing, this week’s Forward features three books about Jewish life in the South, just as I’m about to embark on my own Dixie Diaspora.
Filed under: Look Homeward Angel | Tagged: books, jewish, southern living | Leave a Comment »