A James Byrd Jr. Memorial Playlist

We all know the reason Jasper, Texas is famous... Butterflies! Oh wait, no, sorry. That's from Bizarro World, where the answer isn't "hate crimes and murder." It's one of those East Texas towns, like Vidor, that the rest of the state keeps waiting for someone to make a horror movie about. Barring that, something where Matthew McConaughey plays an idealistic lawyer.

On this day in 1998, 49-year-old James Byrd Jr. accepted a ride home from Shawn Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer, and John King. Instead of home, they drove him to a remote location, beat him, pissed on him, and then decided to drag him behind their pickup truck, whereupon a collision with a culvert tore off Byrd's right arm and head. Until then he had been conscious throughout this latter-day lynching; parts of Byrd's body were found in 81 separate locations.

The attack was racially motivated, with King and Brewer being well-known white supremacists. After the murder King wrote, "Regardless of the outcome of this, we have made history. Death before dishonor. Sieg Heil!"

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Jef Rouner is a contributing writer who covers politics, pop culture, social justice, video games, and online behavior. He is often a professional annoyance to the ignorant and hurtful.
Contact: Jef Rouner