Representatives of the SCLC and RainbowPUSH Coalition held a joint news conference in Olive Branch, Miss., Monday afternoon and hopes of bringing national attention to Jamal Woods, an Ole Miss freshman who has undergone several racial attacks since the start of the semester.
The SCLC and RainbowPUSH have written a letter to Chancellor Dan Jones and are calling for a meeting with him. The letter was sent to the university to address what they say are the racial attacks on Woods.
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Woods, who is in ROTC at Ole Miss, showed up for the news conference wearing a blue and gray Air Force physical fitness uniform.
"His brother went into the Air Force, so he wanted to try to follow in his footsteps," said Mary Woods, mother.
Jamal's truck still sits in a body shop parking lot in Olive Branch in the same condition it was found Nov. 5 on the Ole Miss campus - all four tires slashed, the "N-word" scratched into the truck's tailgate, "go home" carved into the side of it, and "KKK" scratched into the truck's hood.
The SCLC and the Rainbow Push Coalition gathered around the truck to send a message to the University.
"Just in our involvement, our position is that the leadership at Ole Miss is in denial or seems to be," said Rev. Dwight Montgomery of the SCLC said. "Our concern is that the University is not showing interest in what has occurred, and it's going to escalate."
The letter delivered to Chancellor Jones details what has happened to Jamal would have been more socially tolerated 50 years ago, but not now. They also call for a meeting with Chancellor Jones and the University.
"you address the violence, the acts of disrespect that have taken place and you restore his vehicle, then assure him that this will not happen again," said Dr. Lasimba Gray of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
The SCLC and the Rainbow PUSH Coalition have indicated if they don't get a proper response from Ole Miss, they will consider a march on the University to protest the racial attacks against Woods.
"This young man is a good student, he is in ROTC," Rev. Montgomery said. "We talk about young people. He is not a gang-banger, he's focused and he is trying to do the right thing."
The SCLC and Rainbow PUSH Coalition are encouraging Jamal to stay at Ole Miss and take a stand like James Meredith did.
"If you leave now, the cowards win," Dr. Gray told Woods during the news conference. "We want to stand with you and protect you as a citizen of Mississippi and as a student at Ole Miss and make sure your rights are protected."
But right now, soft spoken Jamal just wants his truck fixed, and his future at Ole Miss is uncertain.
I'm kind of undecided, but at the same time I know I need to be done with Ole Miss because I don't know what is next," he said.
Woods is considering transferring to Tennessee State University, University of Memphis, or might decide to enter active duty Air Force.
A $1,000 reward is being offered by SCLC and Rainbow PUSH to find the person or persons involved in the racial attacks against Woods.
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