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Justice march gains traction

Group passing through Troup on way to D.C.

By Tyler H. Jones

tjones@civitasmedia.com

Marchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice approach LaGrange on West Point Road on Saturday. The nearly 900-mile march from Selma, Ala., to Washington, D.C., is aimed at raising awareness on the issues of education, economic inequality, criminal justice reform and voting rights.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBTylerNAACP01.jpgMarchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice approach LaGrange on West Point Road on Saturday. The nearly 900-mile march from Selma, Ala., to Washington, D.C., is aimed at raising awareness on the issues of education, economic inequality, criminal justice reform and voting rights. Tyler H. Jones | Daily News
One team of marchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice pass in front of the LaGrange Art Museum in downtown LaGrange on Saturday. More than 20 people from across the country took part in the march Saturday, with marchers rotating in relay-type fashion.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBTylerNAACP02.jpgOne team of marchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice pass in front of the LaGrange Art Museum in downtown LaGrange on Saturday. More than 20 people from across the country took part in the march Saturday, with marchers rotating in relay-type fashion. Tyler H. Jones | Daily News
A team of marchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice pass LaGrange College on Vernon Street on Saturday. More than 20 people from across the country took part in the march Saturday, with marchers rotating in relay-type fashion.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBTylerNAACP03.jpgA team of marchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice pass LaGrange College on Vernon Street on Saturday. More than 20 people from across the country took part in the march Saturday, with marchers rotating in relay-type fashion. Tyler H. Jones | Daily News
Marchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice board an air-conditioned bus to stop for a lunch break at Grace Baptist Church on West Point Road on Saturday.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBTylerNAACP04.jpgMarchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice board an air-conditioned bus to stop for a lunch break at Grace Baptist Church on West Point Road on Saturday. Tyler H. Jones | Daily News
Volunteers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice hand out boxed lunches during a break at Grace Baptist Church on West Point Road on Saturday.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBTylerNAACP05.jpgVolunteers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice hand out boxed lunches during a break at Grace Baptist Church on West Point Road on Saturday. Tyler H. Jones | Daily News
A team of marchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice pass the intersection of Morgan and Greenville streets on Saturday. More than 20 people from across the country took part in the march Saturday, with marchers rotating in relay-type fashion.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBTylerNAACP06.jpgA team of marchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice pass the intersection of Morgan and Greenville streets on Saturday. More than 20 people from across the country took part in the march Saturday, with marchers rotating in relay-type fashion. Tyler H. Jones | Daily News
Marchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice approach LaGrange on West Point Road on Saturday.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBTylerNAACP07.jpgMarchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice approach LaGrange on West Point Road on Saturday. Tyler H. Jones | Daily News
A Georgia State Patrol motorcycle trooper drives ahead of marchers during the NAACP’s Journey for Justice march on West Point Road on Saturday.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBTylerNAACP08.jpgA Georgia State Patrol motorcycle trooper drives ahead of marchers during the NAACP’s Journey for Justice march on West Point Road on Saturday. Tyler H. Jones | Daily News
Vehicles stop on Morgan Street as marchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice pass through the street’s intersection with Greenville Street.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBTylerNAACP09.jpgVehicles stop on Morgan Street as marchers with the NAACP’s Journey for Justice pass through the street’s intersection with Greenville Street. Tyler H. Jones | Daily News
A team of marchers with the NAACP Journey for Justice walk along West Point Road on Saturday with a caravan carrying other participants and support.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBDonnyNAACP01.jpgA team of marchers with the NAACP Journey for Justice walk along West Point Road on Saturday with a caravan carrying other participants and support. Donny Karr | Daily News
A participant in the Journey for Justice walks with a young child Saturday during a break at Grace Baptist Church on West Point Road.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBDonnyNAACP02.jpgA participant in the Journey for Justice walks with a young child Saturday during a break at Grace Baptist Church on West Point Road. Donny Karr | Daily News
Marchers taking a break for lunch eat on a bus parked at Grace Baptist Church on West Point Road on Saturday.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBDonnyNAACP03.jpgMarchers taking a break for lunch eat on a bus parked at Grace Baptist Church on West Point Road on Saturday. Donny Karr | Daily News
Georgia State Patrol troopers on motorcycles talk under an awning at Grace Baptist Church on West Point Road on Saturday during a break for some of the Journey for Justice march participants.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBDonnyNAACP04.jpgGeorgia State Patrol troopers on motorcycles talk under an awning at Grace Baptist Church on West Point Road on Saturday during a break for some of the Journey for Justice march participants. Donny Karr | Daily News
A few young supporters man the drinks to hand out to Journey for Justice marchers at Grace Baptist Church on West Point Road on Saturday.
http://lagrangenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/web1_WEBDonnyNAACP05.jpgA few young supporters man the drinks to hand out to Journey for Justice marchers at Grace Baptist Church on West Point Road on Saturday. Donny Karr | Daily News

LaGRANGE — A nearly 900-mile march aimed at raising awareness of social, economic and political issues will wrap up its Troup County leg Tuesday.

The NAACP-sponsored Journey For Justice, an 860-mile march from Selma, Ala., to Washington, D.C., will host its fourth and final teach-in event at the First United Methodist Church, 401 Broad Street, this evening at 7. Atlanta attorney Millard Farmer is slated to speak on legislative issues, according to Ernest Ward, Troup County NAACP president.

Each day, the marchers spent morning and afternoon walking 20-mile legs of the journey, which followed West Point Road to Vernon Street and downtown LaGrange, then Morgan Street, turning left toward Commerce Avenue. The marchers turned onto Commerce Avenue and followed it to Hogansville Road.

Statesboro resident Francys Johnson, statewide president of the NAACP, didn’t let the hot Georgia sun deter his journey. The middle-aged man with a booming voice sang and chanted as he purposefully walked down West Point Road on Saturday morning.

“We’re marching for our schools, we’re marching for the lives that have been lost in the battle of mass incarceration in the criminal-industrial complex, we’re marching for a sustainable economy that benefits all, not just a privilege few,” he said. “We’re marching so that politicians respect that the citizen is the highest role in this republic. So we’re marching to dramatize the conditions of the real people in the United States.”

Johnson, who joined the Journey for Justice at the state line in West Point, said he believes the Peach State is falling behind in the areas of income inequality and education, and in the long run, that will hurt everyone.

“We have an economy that favors some and not others. It’s uneven,” he said. “There’s Atlanta, and then there’s the rest of Georgia. We have an education system that continues to lag behind the rest of the country. … Our students are not prepared for the global opportunities that should be theirs.”

A 2014 study by the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey ranked Troup County as the ninth most economically unequal county in America — ahead of Baltimore and San Francisco and on par with second-world countries like Brazil.

According to Census data, more than one in five Troup residents – 22 percent – live at or below the Federal poverty line. The number balloons to 33 percent — one in three — when looking just at children. Of those children, more than a quarter — 27.4 percent — of Troup County School System students failed to graduate in four years in 2014, according to the Troup County School System.

The march will continue on it’s way to Atlanta after leaving LaGrange on Tuesday morning. The group will base itself in Atlanta for the next leg of the march from Tuesday to Friday. A statewide rally on education reform is schedule for Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Mount Ephraim Baptist Church, 1202 West Marietta St., Atlanta.

For more information on the Journey for Justice visit www.naacp.org or use the hashtag #JusticeSummer on Facebook or Twitter.

— Reporter Melanie Ruberti contributed to this report.

Tyler H. Jones is a reporter for LaGrange Daily News. He may be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2155.