Stella Byrd Speaks With Channel 7, Gives Encouragement To Others

The mother of James Byrd Jr. speaks rarely to the media these days, and she's not taking part in Thursday's Nightline program in Jasper.  However, she did sit down with Channel 7's Morgan Palmer to talk about loss and grief, and how she hopes her story can be an inspiration.

Stella Byrd is strong, courageous and very inspiring. And now she's an author. She put together the book called "Hope Amidst Despair".   It's a collection of letters, thoughts, family stories, and photographs.  It comes from a woman who has endured more than most of us can ever imagine -- from the horrible murder of her son, to the onslaught by reporters from all over the world. Through it all, she is the same woman of faith she's always been.

"I know that I had to come to some type of closure," she says.

That closure is never complete, and it will never be. Wounds don't heal after just five years.

"By writing this, it relieves some of the pressure."

In a book filled with words pain and despair, but also faith, Mrs. Byrd says the world must never forget what happened in Jasper. And that it could still happen -- anywhere.

"They might listen to what I say, but they see for themselves with their own eyes with these letters. They might help somebody."

But to this day, not everybody understands the depth of her pain.  "Some do. Some don't," she says.

James wasn't killed because of what he did or what he said. This mother's son was tortured because of who he was.

"I want to share with the world some of the letters I have in here."

The book is also a building project. The James Byrd Jr. Memorial Park is little more than a tract of land five years after his death. Proceeds from the book will turn this into a major center for the community.

"Response has been very good. I can't order [the books] fast enough."

Through the years, the media spotlight, and the trials of the past four-and-a-half years, she says the Byrd Family hasn't really changed. "We're ordinary people," she says.

"We've come in contact with many powerful people.  Most people just call me 'Momma Byrd.'" "[Outsiders] treat us nice, because I won't let them do any other way."

Now, she wants to give others some of the strength and a sense of the faith that has kept everyone close.

"I have received some cruel treatment from both white and black. The point is: the whole race should not be judged for what one person does... Just let them know that you don't have to feel like you're all alone, somebody in the world always cares for you."

More books are being printed. East Texans who would like to order one can call the Spiritual Temple Church in Frankston.  The number is 903-876-5855.  Leave a message on the answering machine, and someone will get back to you.