Between 15,000 – 20,000 protesters marched on Jena in what was described at that time, as the “largest civil rights demonstration in years”. Related protests were held in other US cities on the same day. Protesters took buses from such distant cities as Los Angeles and Washington, DC. Because of the congestion on the roads leading to Jena, many protesters left their vehicles and continued into town on foot.
Attendees included civil rights activists Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, and Martin Luther King III, and rappers Mos Def and Salt-n-Pepa. Rapper-actor Ice Cube attended and financially supported the rally.
Darryl Hunt, an African American man who was wrongfully convicted of the rape and murder of a young white newspaper reporter in 1984, was scheduled as a keynote speaker.
The demonstrators were addressed by Darryl Matthews, General President of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, who said, “It is sobering to know that in 2007 Martin Luther King’s dream of equal treatment, respect, fairness and opportunity is still not realized.”
Jena Six were 6 black teenagers (Robert Bailey, 17; Mychal Bell, 16; Carwin Jones, 18; Bryant Purvis, 17; Jesse Ray Beard, 14; and Theo Shaw, 17) in Jena, Louisiana convicted in the 2006 beating of Justin Barker, a white student at the local Jena High School, which they also attended.
A Noose hanging from the “White tree” at their high school the day after a African-American student sat under it, lead to a series of events that concluded with the beating of Justin Barker.