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.
Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...