FBI investigators and TV crews from across the state have descended on the town, interviewing friends and family members alike. Meanwhile, local law enforcement is continuing to investigate.
The Johnson family, meanwhile, has authorized a second autopsy and, with the help of civil rights groups, has retained a lawyer and a private investigator to be sure every lead is pursued. July 3, By all s, Raynard Johnson was a good kid: a straight-A student, a talented football player, a church-going son who always wore a smile. After a teen's death, a small Mississippi town confronts one of racism's oldest taboos.
Friends say Raynard's easy-going color-blindness may have confronted the hard legacy of segregation. We believe news can and should expand a sense of identity and possibility beyond narrow conventional expectations. Cancel anytime.
But in Marion County, as in many rural corners of America, interracial dating still seems to engender some resistance. Monitor Movie Guide. Monitor Daily Current Issue. Members of the young man's family, though, say several questions have gone unanswered.
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If you have questions about yourplease contact customer service or call us at This message will appear once per week unless you renew or log out. Nationwide, marriages of black and white couples have increased nearly sevenfold since the s, from 51, couples in toin Interracial marriages now total 1. Copy link Link copied.
Black and white and married in the deep south: a shifting image
The Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at Raynard's funeral a week ago Monday. Then it won't be a black or white thing. Soon afterward, Raynard was found hanging from a tree, a baseball cap still on his head. Digital subscription includes: Unlimited access to CSMonitor. A Christian Science Perspective.
They note, for instance, that the belt Raynard was found hanging from does not belong to him, and that they don't know who it belongs to. While she recognizes that no community is completely free of racism, she hopes that whatever the outcome of the case, Marion County can return to the quiet, trusting, friendly town she's always known it to be.
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The Ku Klux Klan's original charter, he notes, was to "protect white women's chastity" after the emancipation of slaves. Photos of the Week. We want to continue to love one another and work for justice as well. Related stories Bridging the racial divide: One step forward or two steps back? Renew subscription Return to the free version of the site.
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So when the high school junior was found hanging from a pecan tree, just steps from his front door, this mixed-race community in rural Mississippi found itself confronted with uncomfortable questions: Did Raynard commit suicide, as a coroner's report suggests? Why don't they fight back?
You can renew your subscription or continue to use the site without a subscription. Search for:. After the year-old's death, the local paper published a photo of racist graffiti spray-painted on a local bridge - very public evidence that some nasty racial undercurrents persist beneath the placid surface of Marion County.
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Others don't. His death has drawn wide, if somewhat unwelcome, national attention to this isolated corner of southwestern Mississippi. Log in again Return to the free version of the site. Vicki Dillistone, Raynard's Spanish teacher, says news of his death and the possibility of suicide shocked many teachers, because "he always had that not-a-care-in-the-world smile. They also note that the man who approached Raynard about dating his niece is a former Sheriff's Department jail guard. Or was he lynched by someone who disapproved of his dating white girls?
But Mr. Potok is quick to add that lingering resistance to racial mixing is not unique to the South.
A hanging exposes views on race and dating
Your subscription to The Christian Science Monitor has expired. With all the questions, tensions are rising in this gentle landscape of pine trees and red-earth rolling hills, about a two-hour drive north of New Orleans. And he doesn't think it's unusual that Raynard's body showed no s of struggle.
You've read of free articles. With Raynard's family doubting the official report - and with the NAACP paying for a private investigator to look into the young man's death - the issues of race and interracial dating are suddenly looming large in a town where white and black live side by side and work, worship, and fish together. Subscribe now Return to the free version of the site.
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After Raynard's death, a coroner's report found "marks consistent with suicide but there was no evidence of injuries from a struggle. Family members say Raynard was dating a white girl a few weeks before he died, but stopped when the girl's uncle showed up at the Johnson house and voiced his disapproval. Already a subscriber? Some have their hands bound.
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Mark Sappenfield. On the Road to Mr. Mineo's Interracial marriage in the US: 1 in 6 couples now racially mixed. Barry Dickerson, pastor of the United Methodist church in Columbia, whose church has met with other Methodist churches, black and white, to keep the lines of communication open. Daniels puts the book down. Subscribe to continue. The Monitor Daily .