A Rare Instance Of Justice For A Racially-Motivated Killing

President Barack Obama greets Louvon Harris, left, Betty Byrd Boatner, right, both sisters of James Byrd, Jr., and Judy Shepard, center, mother of Matthew Shepard
Shonda Buchanan
October 20, 2020

The sun was sliding down the trees; it’d be dark soon. As James Byrd, Jr. tried to walk faster, a truck full of white boys stopped to give him a ride. Would it be safe? He wondered. 

He got in the truck.

Unfortunately, that was a mistake. They drove him to a backwoods road, beat him, then urinated and defecated on him. They then roped his ankles, hooked him to the back of their truck, and drove off.

These three known white supremacists, Shawn Berry, Lawrence Brewer, and John King, dragged Byrd for three miles until his body slid into a drainage ditch and he was decapitated

They dumped his body in front of a Black cemetery – then went to a barbeque!

When the murderers were caught, Jasper, Texas citizens were divided, morally and racially. We know justice for us is typically hard to come by – did these evil men go free?

Thankfully, no! All three were convicted, and two were sentenced to death – one, in 2011, was the FIRST white man in Texas ever executed for killing a Black man

Black bodies are not trinkets for white play. While Byrd’s story is tragic, it helped bring about the 2001 hate-crime bill. If we persist in fighting racist systems, highlighting their brutality against us, we can achieve justice in the end.

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