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Friday, September 21, 2007

Kingsport activist: ‘Injustice for one is really injustice for all of us’



KINGSPORT — Ronnie Collins, overseer of special services and events for the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, said the Jena situation gives African-Americans something to rally around locally and nationally.
“We need to support any person or persons that find themselves in a situation where justice can be served,” said Collins, who is also associated with the Tennessee/Virginia Fellowship Against Racism.
The hanging nooses that touched off the fight leading to arrests of the “Jena Six” told African-Americans that racial injustice is not over, Collins said.
“We still have people who have an idea that if you put up a noose and intimidate folk that it’s still ‘white this and white that,’ and that’s not really the way America feels about things,” he said. “The opinion we have is if you see these things, do you sit back and watch it as a silent onlooker? Martin Luther King talked about quite often in his speeches that most of black America are silent onlookers. We don’t get involved unless we have to. From a positive standpoint, if we can do something positive and peaceful, we will try to support those activities. That’s what they are doing in Jena.”
Collins hailed the fairness of former Sullivan County Juvenile Court Judge Steve Jones in dealing with both white and black juveniles.
“We are looking for that to happen all across America where justice is put to the test. ... We need to do it right and do it consistent. That is not happening in Jena. ... Injustice for one is really injustice for all of us,” Collins said.
Collins added the Jena situation has prompted the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) to put together an event calling attention to what is happening to young African-Americans, especially males.
“There’s too many going to jail and to prison,” he said. “There’s too many still trying to sell drugs. ... We need more programs they can participate in that may deter them from getting involved in criminal activity and dropping out of school.”