September 29, 2007


In another clear signal of the rise and effectiveness of a new political trend- one combining old school and new school groups and technologies- Jena 6 defendant Mychal Bell was released Thursday. Reports like this one from yesterday’s New York Times describe or imply how the massive movement in support of the Jena 6 led to the release of the Bell as well as to his being tried as a juvenile instead of as an adult as was orginally intended by the lead bad guy in the story, district attorney Reed Walters.

What’s especially interesting about the story is how it didn’t BECOME a story until local groups got important support from about 80-90 black bloggers like James Rucker at the Color of Change site. Prior to the involvement of the bloggers, the Jena 6 issue was ignored not just by the mainstream media, but also by the likes of the NAACP and other old school black civil rights organizations. But after local activists joined bloggers and then radio hosts, it became politically impossible for the larger, better-funded industrial age organizations to ignore the momentum of the blackroots and black netroots. Together, old school baby-boomer civil rights community and new school, 18-34 year olds organized petitions, raised hundreds of the thousands of dollars and a march that some estimated had more than 60,000 people.

Similar generational, organizational and technological dynamics were at work during last year’s immigrant rights marches. This fact did not escape black bloggers like Kari Carter who notes the impact of the great marchas on some in the black community:

“When the Latino community showed in force how they felt about immigration reform, it served to paint the picture of a people on the rise, politically active as well as economically powerful. These demonstrations and movements are needed. If communities of color let injustice go by, we run the risk of becoming voiceless and powerless.”

And like last year’s student “walkouts”, activists, community organizations, actors like Mos Def and others are calling for a national college student walkout this Monday Oct. 1 at noon central time. More to come about this. Walkout. Speak out. Tune out.

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