27 May

Creola Cotton (left) and Shaquanda Cotton
By Tracy Stokes, BET.com News Staff & Wire Services

Posted March 28, 2007 – In Paris, Texas, last year, a 14-year-old White girl burns down her family’s home. Her punishment? Probation. In the same town three months later, a 15-year-old Black girl, Shaquanda Cotton, is sentenced to seven years in prison for pushing a hall monitor at her high school.

Shaquanda had no prior arrests, and the monitor, a 58-year-old teacher’s aide, was not hurt, according to Black leaders in the northeast Texas town of about 26,000 residents.  But in March 2006, the same judge, Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville, who let the White teenage girl go on probation, convicted Shaquanda of  “assault on a public servant” and sent her to prison at least until she turns 21.
Officials at the Texas Youth Commission declined to discuss the case with BET.com, citing Texas law.  “State law forbids us from acknowledging whether we have any youths are in our system, despite the 50 million issues of print that’s been run,” said Jim Hurley, a spokesman for the Texas Youth Commission. “We’d have to break the law to talk about it.” Civil Rights Uproar….

While the U.S. Department of Education is investigating the incident, the case has civil rights groups in an uproar.
“I don’t understand the judge’s rationale for his decision,” Dr. Howard Anderson, president of the San Antonio Branch of the NAACP, told BET.com.
In highlighting what he called an egregious miscarriage of justice in a town with a long history of civil rights abuses, Anderson pointed to the case of the 14-year-old convicted arson (whose name was not released because of her age), who was slapped with probation, and the case of a 19-year-old White man in Paris, convicted of killing a 54-year-old Black woman and her 3-year-old grandson with his truck. The latter, he said, was also sentenced to probation and told to send the family a Christmas card every year.
“Then you have Shaquanda’s case,” Anderson said. “She pushed a hall monitor, and she gets seven years confinement? If I look at all three of these sentences, and I’m not a lawyer, I have to wonder what the judicial system is doing.  In this particular case, what is this judge doing?”
Gary Bledsoe, an Austin attorney who heads the state NAACP branch, told BET.com that Shaquanda was merely trying to defend herself.
“All she (Shaquanda) did was grab the aide to prevent a strike,” Bledsoe said.  “It’s like they are sending a signal to Black folks in Paris that you stay in your place in this community, in the shadows, intimidated.”
Sad History
And keeping Blacks in their place is nothing new in Paris, say leaders, who remind that it’s the site of the first highly publicized lynching of a Black by a large White mob. In 1893, fugitive Henry White was captured in Arkansas and brought to Paris, where he was tortured and burned alive on a train bed as more than 10,000 angry townsfolk cheered and jeered.
Activists say that the Shaquanda sentence is nothing more than a modern-day lynching.
Cotton has been incarcerated at a youth prison in Brownwood, Texas, for the last year on a sentence that could run until her 21st birthday. But like many of the other youths in the system, she is eligible to earn early release if she achieves certain social, behavioral and educational milestones while in prison.
But according to The Chicago Tribune , officials at the Ron Jackson Correctional Complex repeatedly have extended Shaquanda’s sentence because she refuses to admit guilt and because she reportedly was found with contraband in her cell – an extra pair of socks.
“She’s not admitting any guilt, because she doesn’t feel that she did anything,” Anderson told BET.com . “Not to mention, who saw the pushing, if it did occur?”

Cotton’s mother, Creola, who Anderson describes as “strong-willed,” said her daughter was singled out because she accused the school district of racism on several occasions.
In fact, 12 discrimination complaints have been filed against the Paris Independent School District in recent years. District officials dispute the charges, but the U.S. Department of Education, which is still investigating the case, has reportedly asked the U.S. Department of Justice to get involved.
In 1998, Paris, Texas, was named the “Best Small Town in Texas” by Kevin Heubusch in his book The New Rating Guide to Life in America’s Small Cities.

Are you interested in reaching out to Shaquanda?  You can write a  Letter directly to her at the address below:
She also receive mail here:
Ron Jackson Correctional Complex,
Unit 2, Dorm 4
P.O. Box 872
Brownwood, Texas 76804
Protest letters can also be sent to Judge Chuck Superville, who handed down the sentence at the address below:
Honorable M.C. (Chuck) Superville, Jr., Judge
Lamar County Courthouse
119 North Main
Paris, TX 75460
Phone # 903-737-2410
Fax # 903-785-3858



  1. Mama May 28, 2007 at 11:32 PM #

    Wow! This story is amazing, thank you for posting it.

    It is an incredible ignominy to Texas for allowing injustice like this! More than ever to a 15 year old girl! I can’t even begin to imagine how terrifying this is for Shaquanda..

    I will pray for you Shaquanda Cotton, and will definitely forward this in hopes that people will open their hearts and fight for you!


  2. Eddie Griffin May 29, 2007 at 1:04 PM #

    Sorry, you are very late. Shaquanda Cotton was released over a month ago. Somewhere on my website, we have a picture of her homecoming.

  3. Advancement Project July 25, 2007 at 11:24 AM #

    Hi, I wrote a blog about structural/Institutional racism in the United States linking together the cases of the Jena Six trial in Louisiana, Shaquanda Cotton in Texas, and Genarlow Wilson in Georgia. It is a national phenomena that young black children are being locked away for minor crimes.


    I think it is important to put a face on structural and institutional racism in America. It is claiming real victims, and they are getting younger by the day now that Zero-tolerance policies have come about.

    C.B. from Advancement Project

  4. Keith Watson September 19, 2007 at 3:36 PM #

    THIS IS THE WORST CASE OF INJUSTICE EVER PERIOD. This 15 yr old child is spending time in a prison facility based on what “fact”. She alledgely pushed a teacher’s aide and recieved 7yrs in prison. How can that judge live with himself?? GOD does have a special place for people like that.

    God Bless Shaquanda Cotton and her family.

  5. napulator October 6, 2007 at 3:01 PM #

    I am reading a Book called inhuman bondage. I ready a story in the book about a town in Texas where they lyched a Black man and thousands of people gathered at the lynching. This man had been accused of something involving a white woman or girl. THey tied him up and they took a hot spear and burned his eyes out. The book read that his screams could be heard throughout the plains of texas.

    As I was reading this article, I thought of that same town in Texas…I assumed that this type of injustice MUST be taking place in a town like that. EReading the rest of the article confirmed my suspicion.

    Also of note, after they burned the man alive, people at the lyching rushed to gather memorobilia. What counts as memorobilia you ask? Teeth, bones, nails…etc.


  6. THE ONE October 11, 2007 at 8:28 PM #

    I was reading this article,and it is the worst feeling to have. I am a mother of 3, and it makes me scared to let my kids out if our home. Kids have been that way in school from day1. And a human with any kind of human ways, should not even want to live with themselves if they want to put a child any child in a place for evil people. They need to put there self in that place and see how it feels. We are BLACK people, and we are strong. And we will not let NO ONE TAKE THAT FROM US EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. misslady202 October 13, 2007 at 8:09 AM #

    I truely believe that the judicial system is a bunch of CRAP! They want us as African Americans to rely on the damn system and all we do is get sh$tted on. But a white person can do some crazy stuff like kill their parent or shoot up a school they dont get nothen but a damn slap on the wrist and to me that is honestly ridiculous. But hey we spose to be treated equal right? WRONG! I feel sorry for thos e who get mistreated because of the color of their skin. Now if the shoe was on the other hand where white people were getten mistreated they would not like it at all and they would be just like us tryen to get shit situated. Its sad the f&cked up world that we live in, and we still living in it and nothen is being done to fix this problem

  8. Mello October 15, 2007 at 12:13 AM #

    OMG. This is the rudest thing I have seen in a long time. Pardon my french, but that is BULL SHIT if I’ve ever seen it. This is a shame and the judge who caused this should get his title taken away ASAP!

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  10. Danielle February 19, 2008 at 11:00 PM #

    Okay wow!!! im a fifteen year old black girl and to hear about stuff like this really start pissing me off because i dont why people can be so racist thats ridiculous im done and im tired of racism in the world the only reason why theyre racist is because they want blacks to be slaves and do their workd for them because theyre too lazy i dont care if its in any laws but its in my fucking laws that a girl thats only 15 CANNOT go to jail thats why they have juvenile ad she shouldnt have gotten years in prison she should have gotten more like a probabtion a ticket a fine or she should or would have gotten sued i dont care what any judge says this is what i say and im right.

  11. S-Jay November 30, 2010 at 7:06 PM #

    okey , this does’nt happen in U.K. , well it was a wrong decision Mr.Chuck , Blacks are also like you Mr.Superville , whites are not kings or Kings of the world , Obama is also a black you can’t say anything about president , blacks feel the same pain as whites , but this girl should accept her guilt , and the judge too

    Ps: am not black , niether am a Adult

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