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New Evidence In Rodney Reed Case



Nationwide — Rodney Reed, a 51-year old man who was wrongfully convicted of a rape and murder that he did not commit, is scheduled to be executed on November 20th in Texas despite the evidence that confirms his innocence. Several advocates and celebrities such as Beyonce, Rihanna, and Kim Kardashian West have signed a petition to prevent the execution.

In 1996, Reed was accused of killing Stacey Stites, who was then 19-years old. He allegedly kidnapped her before raping and strangling her, leaving her body in a remote area of Bastrop, Texas.

Reed was eventually convicted of rape and murder by an all-white jury in 1998.

However, new evidence that could potentially exonerate him and instead implicate Stites’ fiancé Jimmy Fennell, a local police officer, has emerged.

Reed’s attorneys claimed the prosecution relied on a hunch and inaccurate science, testing recovered DNA against Reed, which became the sole basis of the case. Reed, who initially denied knowing Stites, later admitted that he had a relationship with her and the sperm found inside Stites’ body was because they had consensual sex the day before she was found dead.

Forensic witnesses in the original trial claimed that sperm could not survive for more than a day after sex so prosecutors believed that she was raped by Reed shortly before being murdered. New evidence, however, proved that sperm can stay intact for days after death, confirming that the main evidence linking Reed to her death was wrong as it lacked scientific support.

Additional forensic evidence also pointed toward Fennell. Fingerprints discovered from his pickup truck — which was reportedly used to kidnap Stites — matched only Stites and Fennell.

During the trial, several witnesses could have testified that Fennell found about their affair and threatened Reed, but they weren’t called.

Meanwhile, Fennel, who had a history of violence against women, was sent to jail for kidnapping and sexual assault soon after Rodney was imprisoned. While in jail, Fennel allegedly confessed to killing Stites, according to the affidavit filed by Arthur Snow Jr., a former prison inmate. Snow said he was in jail with Fennel when he said his fiancé had been sleeping around with a Black man behind his back, so he had to kill her.

“Toward the end of the conversation Jimmy said confidently, ‘I had to kill my n****r-loving fiancé,’” Snow wrote. “My impression was that Jimmy felt safe, even proud, sharing this information with me because I was a member of the Aryan Brotherhood. I think Jimmy assumed that his confession would impress me and earn him credibility with the Aryan Brotherhood.”

Over the years, Reed, who has been on death row for 21 years, maintained his innocence. The Innocence Project, an organization that aims to exonerate wrongly convicted people, is representing Reed.

Moreover, Reed has been receiving support from several people, including pastors, police officers, and celebrities. Almost 3 million people have signed the petition calling for Governor Greg Abbott to grant clemency, stop or delay the execution.

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Black Life Texas

Black Soldiers’ Convictions Overturned – A Century Later!



More than 100 years later, the U.S. Army recently overturned the convictions of the 110 Black soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 24th Infantry Regiment (also known as the Buffalo Soldiers), who were falsely found guilty following the World War I-era Houston Riots. 

The records of these soldiers will be corrected, to the extent possible, to characterize their military service as honorable. Seventeen of these men are buried at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. In 2022, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs unveiled a sign telling the story of these men to educate visitors about what happened. 

Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth said, “After a thorough review, the Board has found that these soldiers were wrongly treated because of their race and were not given fair trials. By setting aside their convictions and granting honorable discharges, the Army is acknowledging past mistakes and setting the record straight.”

The Houston Riots took place on Aug. 23, 1917, following months of racial provocations against members of the 24th — including the violent arrest and assault of two Black soldiers. Following the assaults and amid rumors of additional threats to soldiers, a group of more than 100 Black soldiers seized weapons and marched into the city, where clashes erupted. The violence left 19 people dead.

In the months that followed, the Army convicted 110 soldiers in a process that was, according to historians, characterized by numerous irregularities. Ultimately, 19 men were executed in the largest mass execution of American soldiers by the U.S. Army. The first set of executions occurred in secrecy and within a day of sentencing, leading the Army to implement an immediate regulatory change that prohibited future executions without review by the War Department and the President.

In 2020 and 2021, the South Texas College of Law petitioned the Army to review the convictions. Shortly after, the Army received petitions from retired general officers requesting clemency for all 110 soldiers.

“As a Texas native, I was grateful to participate in this process early in my tenure at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, and I am proud that the Army has now formally restored honor to soldiers of the 3-24 and their families,” said Under Secretary of the Army Gabe Camarillo. “We cannot change the past; however, this decision provides the Army and the American people an opportunity to learn from this difficult moment in our history.”

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been deeply involved as this case has unfolded and is prepared to assist any family members upon receipt of the corrected records. Relatives of the soldiers may be entitled to benefits. Family members or other interested parties may request a copy of the corrected records from the National Archives and Records Administration, in accordance with NARA Archival Records Request procedures found at (

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Black Life Texas

Texas Helping Domestic Violence Victims



Each October, domestic violence organizations coordinate and participate in local, state, and national events promoting advocacy and raising awareness.

Purple Thursday, or “Go Purple Day,” is a national day of action each October during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Everyone is encouraged to wear all things purple as a symbol of peace, courage, survival, honor, and personal dedication to domestic violence awareness.

On Thursday, October 19, 2023, put on your purple and stand up against family violence.

According to the Texas Council on Family Violence, the number of people seeking shelter to escape an abusive relationship went up 25 percent in 2022.

During the 2023 Texas Legislative Session, legislators passed a number of bills to fund and support family violence centers across the state.

The Center Against Sexual and Family Violence (CASFV) will receive a portion of the $88 million allocated to centers statewide over two years. The overall amount is up about $10 million from the last legislative session. CASFV provides shelter, counseling, job readiness, safety-oriented approaches to violence, prevention classes and behavior intervention plans for offenders.

Additionally, Senate Bill 578 allows people applying for a protective order to keep their county of residence private. This would help a domestic violence victim stay hidden from their batterer if they moved counties, especially to a lesser-populated area. 

SB 1717 affects the prosecution of stalking behavior, allowing testimony into the court record to add context to how behavior by the stalker affects the victim. HB 1432 has reduced the scrutiny a judge must use to issue a protective order. Previously, the applicant had to prove family violence happened in the past and that it could happen in the future.

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Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Honored with National Monuments



The legacies of Emmett Till, along with his mother Mamie Till-Mobley, will be honored with national monuments. This commemoration comes on what would have been Emmett’s 82nd birthday, according to Ebony Entertainment.

Following his brutal murder, EBONY’s sister publication JET published photos of Till’s mutilated body, which shook the nation and brought much-needed attention to the plight of Black Americans in the United States. Last year, legislation was passed by Congress to award Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley with posthumous Congressional Gold Medals. 

On July 25, President Joe Biden plans to sign a proclamation establishing the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument in both Illinois and Mississippi across three separate sites. 

As shared with EBONY, the sites will include Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Bronzeville, Chicago, Mississippi’s Graball Landing and the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi. Each of these locations hold deep significance in the understanding of Emmett Till’s story. 

Thousands mourned Emmett’s murder in 1955 in Bronzeville, the historically Black neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side. Till’s mutilated body was pulled from Graball Landing’s Tallahatchie River. Lastly, the Tallahatchie County Second District Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi is the site where his murderers were tried and acquitted by an all-white jury.

A White House Official shared that the designation of these monuments “reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to advance civil rights and commitment to protecting places that help tell a more complete story of our nation’s history.”

PBS’s Special: Murder of Emmett Till (April 2023)

Watch the PBS Special here.

In August 1955, a 14-year-old Black boy allegedly flirted with a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn’t understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the dead of night, beat him brutally and then shot him in the head.

Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly afterwards, the defendants sold their story, including their tale of how they murdered Till, to a journalist. The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till’s death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began.

Watch the PBS Special here.

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