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03.26.07 02:46 PM

Paris, Texas: A City Divided

According to the Chicago Tribune:

"To some in Paris, sinister past is back
In Texas, a white teenager burns down her family's home and receives probation. A black one shoves a hall monitor and gets 7 years in prison. The state NAACP calls it `a signal to black folks.'

The public fairgrounds in this small east Texas town look ordinary enough, like so many other well-worn county fair sites across the nation. Unless you know the history of the place.

There are no plaques or markers to denote it, but several of the most notorious public lynchings of black Americans in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries were staged at the Paris Fairgrounds, where thousands of white spectators would gather to watch and cheer as black men were dragged onto a scaffold, scalded with hot irons and finally burned to death or hanged.

Brenda Cherry, a local civil rights activist, can see the fairgrounds from the front yard of her modest home, in the heart of the "black" side of this starkly segregated town of 26,000. And lately, Cherry says, she's begun to wonder whether the racist legacy of those lynchings is rebounding in a place that calls itself "the best small town in Texas."" (More)

And from Associated Content:

"After a Chicago Tribune article by Howard Witt titled "To some in Paris, [Texas] sinister past is back," about the plight of Shaquanda Cotton was printed, outrage followed.

As a 14-year-old, Shaquanda Cotton was sent to youth prison with violent offenders for allegedly causing bodily injury to a PISD teaching assistant. After a trial in March 2006 that lasted three days, County Judge Chuck Superville sentenced Shaquanda Cotton to an undefined sentence at Texas Youth Commission.

"In Texas, a white teenager burns down her family's home and receives probation," wrote Witt. "A black one shoves a hall monitor and gets 7 years in prison. The state NAACP calls it `a signal to black folks.' "

This article indeed acted as a call to arms, and in response, bloggers across the country took up the plight of Shaquanda Cotton, urging supporters to swamp Texas Governor Rick Perry with emails and phone calls until justice is served." (More)

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