3: "The Last Death Row Meal" - The Death Of James Byrd Jr


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James Byrd Jr. was born on May 2, 1949, in Beaumont, Texas, the third of eight children born to Stella and James Byrd Sr. Growing up in Jasper, a small bedroom community in East Texas, his family's life revolved around the Greater New Bethel Baptist Church, where Mrs. Byrd taught Sunday School, her husband was a deacon and James Jr. enjoyed singing hymns and playing piano. Byrd graduated with the last racially segregated class at Jasper's Rowe High School in 1967.  Walking home from his parents’ house in the early morning hours of June 7, 1998, 49-year-old James accepted a ride home from three white men: Shawn Allen Berry, Lawrence Russell Brewer and John William King. Byrd got in the bed of their pickup truck, but instead of taking him home, they drove him to a desolate area east of town, beat him severely, chained him to the back of the truck by his ankles and dragged him for more than three miles along an asphalt road.  This case would change death row "special" meals in Texas forever.