Activist Speaks On Hate Crimes In Denison Lecture Series Convo
Posted: October 8, 2001
The Denison Lecture Series will host Darrell Verrett to discuss "The Price of Hate: The Legacy of James Byrd, Jr." This convocation, set for 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Oct. 17) in Swasey Chapel, is free and open to the public. Verrett, nephew of James Byrd, will speak on the impact of Byrd's tragic death at the hands of white supremacists, the activist work that he and his family are doing, and the fight to get hate crime legislation passed in Texas.
On June 7 1998, the brutal killing of James Byrd Jr. jolted the nation. The details were horrific: Byrd, a 49 year old black man, was walking along a country road early that morning near his home in Jasper, Texas and got a ride. Byrd was then beaten, chained by his ankles, and dragged for two miles. Three men were arrested and in February of 1999, self-proclaimed white supremacist, John William King was convicted and sentenced to death in Byrd's murder. Two accomplices await their trials.
In response to Byrd's death, his family has formed the James Byrd Jr. Foundation for Racial Healing, an organization dedicated to creating a heightened awareness of racial hatred and hopefully reducing the number of bias motivated attacks. Verrett was selected to be executive director of the foundation. Verrett says the need for stronger and tougher laws clearly exists because there has been a disturbing increase in these incidents. He says that according to a 1992 report by the Washington Bureau of the NAACP, 8,310 people were victims of hate crimes; 60% of these were victimized due to racially motivated hatred. He adds that the latest 1996 figures show an astounding increase of 48.3% since 1992.
Verrett is firmly committed to creating something positive out of his family's tragedy. He seeks to promote the foundation's goals of public enlightenment and education in matters regarding cultural diversity and the consequesnces of racial hatred. Verrett has been actively lobbying at the local, state, and federal levels of government for stronger legislation dealing with hate crimes.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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