But then, around 5 a.m. I noticed the caravan of headlights stretched along I-49 for miles and miles headed toward Jena via of Alexandria with license plates that said Georgia, Florida, Tennessee and more.
Even when we stopped at the Air Base Road, the gas stations and the one fast food restaurant that was opened were packed as though it were broad open daylight instead of pitch blackness with folks dressed in all black getting out the vehicles.
By the time we got to Alexandria around 6 a.m., the traffic slowed to a crawl and would pretty much remain that way until we got into Jena around 8 a.m. Just when my eyes were getting heavier by the minute, I felt this burst of new energy as we got closer to Jena and saw the trail of hundreds of folks walking alongside our vehicles to join the rally some miles away.
When we finally were able to park and make our walk to the LaSalle Parish Courthouse I can't even begin to describe how amazing it was to see the crowd of people. I mean, there were easily several thousand folks just on the street leading to the Courthouse Blvd. not to mention folks that were in the park, the school and other parts of the small town. And I'm not just talking about people who looked like me, but people of all races.
Unfortunately, it was at this point that we also discovered that we had no cell phone or internet service. But that did little to affect the excitment in the air is we made our way to the parish courthouse.