From the Office of State Senator Rodney Ellis

For Immediate Release
June 12, 1998
Contact: Jeremy Warren, (512) 463-0113

Rev. Jesse Jackson to Preside Over Funeral in Jasper
Senator Ellis will join other key African American leaders in paying respects

HOUSTON (6/12/98) -- The Reverend Jesse Jackson will preside over the funeral of James Byrd, Jr., whose brutal murder last Sunday has sparked a national outcry against hatred and bigotry. The funeral will be held at Greater New Bethel Baptist Church, in Jasper, Saturday, June 13, at 11:00 a.m.

State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and a delegation of key African American leaders will accompany Reverend Jackson to Jasper to pay their respects. Other members of the delegation include Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-California), and Houston Mayor Pro-Tem Jew Don Boney.

In 1993, Senator Ellis passed hate crimes legislation, which increased the level of punishment for a convicted criminal if -- during the punishment phase of a trial -- the prosecutor proved that the crime was motivated by bias or prejudice. Since 1993, he has worked to strengthen the statute to give local prosecutors a clearer definition of a hate crime. Ellis announced Thursday that he will file similar legislation during the next session of the Texas Legislature.

WHAT: Funeral of Mr. James Byrd, Jr.

WHO: Reverend Jesse Jackson, State Senator Rodney Ellis, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Houston Mayor Pro- Tem Jew Don Boney

WHEN: Saturday, June 13, at 11:00 a.m.

WHERE: Greater New Bethel Baptist Church 1288 East Martin Luther King Jasper, Texas