Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Jena Six's Robert Bailey, Jr. Attends Grambling State University

Per Alan Bean at Friends of Justice, the local newspaper; which I believe is the News Star, did a piece on Bailey. Monroe is about 30 miles East of Grambling from my recollection of driving it this past January, and is also the city in which fellow Jena 6 member Mychall Bell resides with his grandmother.

The piece is not available online, but here is some of the text Alan provided:


Former Jena Six student hopes to overcome past, look to future
By Stephen Largen

slargen@monroe.gannett.com

GRAMBLING — What might have sucked most people into a downward spiral only seems to have made Robert Bailey Jr. more determined to turn his life around.

Bailey, 19, is one of the Jena Six — six black Jena High School students initially charged with attempted murder in connection with a Dec. 4, 2006, assault on white student Justin Barker at the LaSalle Parish school.

The controversial case drew attention across the nation after many called the arrests and subsequent charges racially discriminatory and excessive. A massive civil rights demonstration ensued on Sept. 20, 2007, when at least 20,000 people marched through Jena to protest.

Bailey wrapped up his legal issues late last month when, along with Carwin Jones, Jesse Ray Beard, Bryant Purvis and Theo Shaw, he pleaded no contest in a Jena courtroom to misdemeanor simple battery. Bailey and the others were sentenced to seven days of unsupervised probation and a $500 fine, but were given no jail time.

They also reached a confidential settlement out of court with Barker.

The only member of the group to serve time was Mychal Bell, who pleaded guilty in December 2007 to second-degree battery and was sentenced to 18 months.

Now, after graduating in May from Shaw High School in Columbus, Ga., Bailey is taking summer classes at Grambling State University, where he plans to major in marketing. Bailey also will attempt to walk onto the football team as a wide receiver...

[According to Bean Bailey attained a 4.0 in his summer courses]

Can’t go back

Robert Bailey said he has only been back to Jena for a total of three or four days since the controversy exploded.

He said he’s made the choice to keep a low profile.

“When people ask me where I’m from, I don’t like to say Jena,” Bailey said.

“People say ‘You know that’s going to stick with you for the rest of your life, right?’ I’m like, ‘For real?’ And I think about it, like, ,you’re gonna be 40 years old and people are going to look at you like you’re that Jena Six boy. I think it is going to stay with me, but it depends how you look at it. I just choose not to suck myself back into that environment where I know I’m going to get the finger pointed at me. I just choose to stay away.”

Bailey also chose to stay out of the spotlight at Shaw, where he enrolled in January 2008 and stayed with family after being kicked out of Jena High.

For his first six months at the school, Bailey didn’t even use his own name.

Instead, he went by the pseudonym “Xavier Lee,” until a local media outlet identified him as a member of the Jena Six.

“The media found out I was in Columbus,” Bailey said.

“I had people coming to me like, ‘Dang, that’s one of them boys. You seen one of those Jena Six boys?’ I was like, ‘Nah, I ain’t seen him,’” Bailey said with a laugh. “I keep to myself, I try to stay to my own business.”

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