"The tree was on the side of the campus that, by long-standing tradition, had always been claimed by white students, who make up more than 80 percent of the 460 students. But a few of the school's 85 black students had decided to challenge the accepted state of things and asked school administrators whether they, too, could sit in the tree's shade."
That "black students" have to ask where they can sit for shade is disturbingly reminiscent of Jim Crow era racist practices and laws meant to deprive Blacks of their civil rights through institutional and quotidian obeisance to whites. Is deep south Louisiana still in the murky waters of uncivilized race-hatred? Yes.
" 'Sit wherever you want,' school officials told them. The next day, the nooses were hanging from the branches."
And then a past of ignorance and racism emerged untouched by reason or state protection...
See Howard Witt's story "Racial demons rear heads" in Chicago Tribune.