Letter to Editor: “Bye bye” Jim Crow – Freedom is the Cure

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 8, 2021

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My name is Shannon “Shane” Brown, case #04-137. I was charged in violation of R.S. 14:30.1 (Second Degree Murder). I was convicted by a non-unanimous jury verdict in the parish of St. John the Baptist. Therefore, I know the down side of my reality. I remember my father being present at my trial with his head down when the verdict was read. When I heard guilty by 11-1 vote I knew that meant an automatic natural life sentence.

My father, who was then married to my mother, was adamant and zealous that I would not be restricted to serve a natural life sentence due to the non-unanimous verdict. Eventually, this belief of my father lead to my parents getting a divorce. As my mother began to believe my father was feeding her false hope.

Excitedly, my family and I saw light at the end of the tunnel when my family went out and voted to outlaw non-unanimous jury verdicts. However, I never thought that light meant a train coming, Then I realized that I will not benefit in this change of our state legislation.

When the United States Supreme Ct. denied retroactivity in Edwards. I was floored, despair sunk in, I was absorbed by this stark vicissitude.

My sister, a former NSA/officer compared my relationship with my sons with that of her friends in the military, who are parents over the phone but, yet disconnected. I learned about Jim Crow Era in high school at the same time I learned about slavery. I can recall thanking God I wasn’t living in those times only to learn years later that I am.

History has an idyllically way of repeating itself. Juneteenth becomes a national holiday after the ruling in Ramos deem the practice of non-unanimous convictions unconstitutional. Unbeknownst, Juneteenth has a two year had go into Galveston, Texas, to free a specific group of black people.

Despite the 13th amendment these people were being held against their will. Likewise, the constitution has freed us from a non-unanimous jury verdict however we’re still being held against our will. In her dissent, Supreme Ct. Justice Kagan noted the majority’s ruling in Ramos “a verdict, taken from eleven, is no verdict at all.” The only difference is our military saviors won’t be solider carrying weapons, but lawyers, politicians, and modern day freedoms fighters enforcing justice and fundamental fairness.

I didn’t ask to be black neither to be born in Louisiana not to be marginalized. Although, I am proud to be each of them except the latter. Please understand that I am not singing the blues, however, I’m tired of living it.

“Bye bye” Jim Crow- Freedom is the cure.


Shannon “Shane” Brown