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April 3rd, 2009
11:49 AM ET

Surviving Jena Six: The dreams of Mychal Bell

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/01/15/mychal.bell/art.bell.closeup.cnn.jpg caption="After the Jena arrest, Mychal Bell was released in late 2007 and agreed to a plea deal."]

Mychal Bell
For The Global Grind

My name is Mychal Bell and I was one of the Jena Six that was charged with attempted murder down in Jena, Louisiana in 2006. As of now, seeing that we have a black president, and with the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. tomorrow, I wanted to share with you my dream like Dr. King shared his dream with everybody. I even had the chance, although I was in shackles and handcuffs, to meet Martin Luther King III, when he came to visit me in prison. So, I feel like I have a connection to the King family.

When I look back at the day that I got in a fight with Justin Barker at my high school, I now realize that I should have done what Dr. King preached, which was non-violence. A few months before the fight, I remember seeing nooses hung from a tree at my school, and none of the few black students knew who was responsible. But, what came to my mind was images of Mississippi burning, seeing how black people were hung and killed, and it felt very disrespectful. In the small town that I grew up in, I had always felt that black people and white people didn't get along. After all, this was Louisiana.

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soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    c,ca---I thought Mychal had a difficult cross to bear---sounds to me like you have some serious issues with yourself--we are all victims--just in different ways.

    April 3, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  2. Miss J

    That was very nice message, Teresa.

    April 3, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  3. c,ca

    Please stop trying to re- package and sell this kid as a hero / victim / role model / civil rights icon / historian / innocent victim of society. ...

    This "poor little me" blog entry is a bit out of step with the times. I got a kick out of the part in which he blames "the media" for his problems. Then why is he choosing to be in "the media" once again?

    This is exactly what President and Mrs. Obama are trying to change. Just yesterday, Mrs. Obama made a speech to schoolgirls telling them to get a good education, work hard, believe in yourself, and you can acheive your dreams.

    But then young people see stories like this. This kid has a record of assault, theft, and who knows what else. But what happens? He's on TV. He gets to write articles about how unhappy he was in prison, awwww. He gets a free ride for 4 years of college.

    Hmmm.......... following Mrs. Obama's advice sounds like a lot of work. Studying, working hard, paying for school vs. criminal activity, sympathy and a four year scholarship.

    How do you convince kids to stay on the right course when they see people like this glorified? Don't get me wrong – if he can turn his life around then, great – good for him. But let's not try to turn him into some kind of hero figure.

    April 3, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  4. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Mychal: Bad things often happen to "good people,"--and they often happen quickly. You are graduating from high school-–will be attending a four year college-–that is where your focus should be--you can always go back and revisit the "past"-–but you can never change it.

    I grew up in a small town near Jena--called Lockport--and I saw the same thing you experienced--and after almost 40 years-–it is still the same--but it remains hidden. I was called many names--and they made fun of my mother and where I lived and my friends-–I couldn't change that-–so I let it run off like rain-–graduated high school and graduate school-–all after I moved away. Racism is the most destructive evil that exist--but it is always hidden--You see Mychal–I lived in a black neighborhood-–and many of my friends were black-wouldn't change a minute of it--and if you haven't determine it now---I'm white-–always focus over the hill--things are going to change tremendously for you---except this time-–all the changes will be for the "better." Best of luck and continued success.

    April 3, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  5. Teresa, OH

    Mychal, you have come a long way in your thinking. I think you've done a bit more mentally growing up than your counterparts with all you've been through.

    You have been given an incredible opportunity to come through the fire and be a huge inspiration to other young people. Dont let your prison/ jail time define you, embrace it for saving you from yourself.

    re: "seeing how black people were hung and killed, and it felt very disrespectful" Disrespectful doesnt even come close... it's downright shameful, beyond comprehension.

    I wish you much success in college and whatever career you choose for yourself.

    April 3, 2009 at 12:29 pm |
  6. Gary T.

    Mychal I wish you All the Best in life!

    You have had a very difficult time lately & you have certainly learned some valuable lessons.
    Use them Wisely!
    You have wisdom that you wouldn't have earned for many years.
    Enjoy your life!

    April 3, 2009 at 12:10 pm |