Posted Feb. 13, 2008 –The recent rise in noose displays, not to mention public incidences where lynching was referred to jokingly, has gotten the president’s attention.
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Speaking Tuesday at a White House Black History Month event, where several notable Blacks were also honored, Bush denounced the displays.
“The noose is not a symbol of prairie justice,” he said in front of the crowd that included the Rev. Al Sharpton, among others. “Displaying one is not a harmless prank. Lynching is not a word to be mentioned in jest.”
Bush also elaborated on lynching’s painful past in the Black community.
Fathers were dragged out of their homes in the middle of the night to face execution in front of hateful crowds, he said. “In many cases, law enforcement officers responsible for protecting the victims were complicit in their deaths.”
Sharpton told The Associated Press that he was pleased Bush brought the issue to the forefront during the event.
“I am encouraged that the president addressed the issue that caused me to bring 30,000 marchers to Jena, La.,” he said. Back in 2006, nooses hung near a high school campus in Jena sparked a huge controversy; the White students who hung the nooses were suspended, while Black student engaged in a fight following the noose incident received harsh criminal charges.
Sharpton added that he hopes the president’s plans for legislation targeted to confront rising hate crimes would also be discussed. In 2006, hate crimes rose 7.8 percent, according to an FBI report.
Not too long ago, Golf Channel reporter Kelly Tilghman joked that competitors should “lynch [golfer TigerWoods] in a back alley” to end his superior play.
Honorees at the event included Rep. John Lewis, the Georgia leader who played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement; William Coleman, the first African American to serve as clerk on the U.S. Supreme Court and who also served as transportation secretary under President Ford; Ernest Green, one of the “Little Rock Nine,” who integrated an all-White Arkansas high school; and Otis Williams, lead singer of “The Temptations.” (The group also performed at the event.)
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