Honoring the Memory of James Byrd, Jr.

This week marks the ten year anniversary of the death of James Byrd Jr. The nation was shocked when three white men chained Byrd to the back of a pick-up truck and dragged him for miles because he was black. Byrd’s family continues to use his memory to rally people against hate crimes. Laurie Johnson has more.

Clara Taylor is James Byrd’s sister.
She’s spent the past decade promoting racial healing.
She says her brother’s death opened her family’s eyes to how
painful and destructive hate can be.

“But it also galvanized or united our family in our effort to bring about peace and unity among the races. We recognize that ultimately only God’s kingdom can solve all of mankinds problems, but each one of us can have a share in working to promote harmony and peace among the races.”

Taylor was joined by dozens of members of local civil rights groups.
They gathered for a symbolic Walk for Respect, organized by the
Anti-Defamation League.

Texas passed several hate crime laws in the wake of Byrd’s death.
State Representative Scott Hochberg says such laws don’t end
hate, but they recognize that hate crimes affect the entire community.

“If you look at a simple graffiti act of writing ‘John loves Mary’ on a railroad trestle that’s very different than putting a swastika on the side of a synagogue. If you look at a vandalism act like knocking over a mailbox that’s much different than burning a cross in somebody’s yard.”

The ADL and the other groups participated in a three-mile walk
to calling for a community of respect and peace in Houston.

Laurie Johnson. KUHF-Houston Public Radio News.


Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson


Laurie is a native Houstonian who started her career at Houston Public Media in 2002. Laurie has covered a wide variety of topics for HPM, including the crash of the Space Shuttle Columbia, Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and numerous elections. She is a frequent contributor to NPR and has been...

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