June 13th, 2016

Day 3: Albany, GA and Montgomery, AL (Paula Maynard)

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to serve on jury duty. This was my first experience on a jury and I was called the first and fourth days to serve for criminal trials. The first case was very difficult because it involved a crime against a young child; however it was the second case that caused me the most anguish. This case involved a young African-American male who was being accused of intending harm/injury to a police officer and resisting arrest. At the time I was reading Jim Wallis’ America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege and the Bridge to a New America, and all I could do during the jury selection process was pray. I was so distressed because I knew the chances of this young man receiving a fair trial were not good. I did not get picked to serve on that jury and while I was relieved due to the conflict in my own heart, I wanted to serve because I wanted at least one person who would offer this young man a fair trial. Unfortunately the entire jury consisted of white members, the judge was a white male, the defendant’s attorney was a white male and both the injured and arresting officers were white. I do not know the details of the case, nor do I know the verdict; however I can’t help but wonder if this young man became another statistic.

As we drove through the countryside and cities of Albany, GA and Montgomery, AL today, not only was I struck by the economic conditions of these areas (as evidenced by numerous dilapidated houses and structures, as well as vacant lots and buildings), but also by the number of bail bond repositories in Montgomery. Montgomery’s population in 2015 was estimated to be 226,519, and there are 30 places for people to acquire bail bonds. That seems like a lot of bail to me. What is happening in this city?

My mind wandered quite a bit today about the ongoing conditions of poverty, crime and justice (or lack thereof) in the South. And linking it to yesterday’s travesty in Orlando, FL I ask myself, “why is there so much hate?” There’s all kind of hate, as hate comes in all forms and levels of intensity. Why is it that we cannot overcome our hatred, or just animosity, towards one another?

Bail Bond House

Bail Bond House in Montgomery, AL

In preparation for walking across the Edmund Pettus Bridge tomorrow I looked up the words to the old southern spiritual, “We Will Overcome.” (Thank you, Rutha Harris, for inspiring me today.) I hope we sing this song together as a group as we cross the bridge, because only working together can we overcome the prejudice and hatred plaguing every facet of this country today.

2 Responses to “”

  1. Kerry Hasler-Brooks on June 29, 2016 12:35

    Paula, your words, “all I could do was pray,” remind me that even as we work, fight, and speak against injustice, there must always be space for silence, reflection, meditation, and prayer.

  2. Paula Maynard on June 29, 2016 13:30

    Kerry, thanks for your comment and I agree with your observation. The socio-economic status for African-Americans certainly struck me as we traveled through Georgia and Alabama. Little did I know when I wrote the blog post that answers to my question, “What is happening in this city [Montgomery]?” would come the next day at the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). The injustices and poverty facing members of our society today are provocative and I’m trying to unpack/understand it more. If you are not familiar with the work of EJI, I encourage you to learn more at http://www.eji.org/issues.

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