This video chronicles the real-life events and the aftermath of a horrifying event that occurred in 1998, in Jasper Texas. James Byrd Jr., an African American man, was given a ride by three young white men, who subsequently brutally beat him, chained his feet to the back of their pick up truck, and dragged him, while his body was brutally torn apart. He died a horrifying death that brought this nation to a sobering moment: another hate crime had been committed, on the eve of the 21st century, letting us know that we’ve come a long, but we’re still torn apart in far too many areas in the fabric of our lives and country.
Lou Gossett Jr, and Jon Voight’s combined talents bring depth and heart to a story that needs to be retold in the 21st century. In the same manner that the Holocaust needs to be retold to each successive generation, so too this horrific crime should never be buried in the archives of the past, nor brushed out of our collective consciousness. An outraged country watched as the white sheriff Billy Rowles [Jon Voight], and R.C. Horn [Louis GossettJr.], the first black mayor of Jasper, Texas, struggled to maintain control of their town, as well as their own emotions. The perpetrators, three young white men, were subsequently caught, brought to trial and sentenced, but not without continuing media coverage that brought both the Ku Klux Klan and the Black Panthers to Jasper. There are very poignant scenes in this reenactment between the mayor and the sheriff, where they too are having to examine the subtle issues in their own hearts with respect to racism. Dove cannot give this video their seal of approval, due to the use of the f word. However, I would encourage and recommend that parents watch this video WITH their teenage children, and absorb the pain caused by attitudes and beliefs that are based on ignorance: attitudes that continue to fester today and must be addressed by each of us, wherever and whenever they cross the landscape of our individual lives. That’s a challenge for every one of us.