After reading my BLOG article SHOPPING WHILE BLACK (see here) a friend called to remind me of an incident which happened to him when he was called for jury duty.
My friend had worked at International Truck and Engine Corporation in Springfield for more than 30 years and he was a Millwright when he retired; skilled trades people were paid very well.
He had been called for jury duty for the first time and he had completed and submitted his required jury questionnaire.
He told me that he was furious because of all the jurors questioned, he was the ONLY one questioned about INCOME! He asked me, "Do you think it's fair that I was the only one asked about my income?" I said, "Well, they can ask anything, but those bigots can't believe that a black man could make $100, 000 in a year!"
He said, "They thought I was lying!" I said, "You know they wouldn't want anybody they thought was UPPITY!" He was excused by the prosecutor with a peremptory challenge. He said, "He didn't want me because I'm black and the defendant was black!"
I told him about a time when I was called for jury duty and a black woman was called for questioning before me. The prosecutor asked her exactly one question: "Are you the mother of ......?" When the woman answered that he was her son the prosecutor excused her with a peremptory challenge. She became very upset and demanded that the judge tell her why the prosecutor was allowed to excuse her. The judge said that he didn't have to give a reason. She said that her son had nothing to do with whether she could be a good juror. She was very emotional and the judge had the bailiff to escort the woman from the courtroom. I knew her son's name from having seen it in the local newspaper for criminal offenses. I'm sure the majority of the people in the courtroom also recognized the name.