Jasper Tries To Move On

For 10 months now an occupation force of police, cameras and questions put this little town's race relations under a world microscope, reports CBS News Correspondent Bob McNamara.

With the trial and sentencing of John William King now over, some Jasper residents just want to move on. Tracey Parks says, "justice was served in Jasper, Texas. Now, if you could just stop talking about our town."

But many Jasper residents felt the need to talk about what happened in their town. Some even said there's been more open discussion about racism as a result of the murder of James Byrd, Jr.

African Americans make up approximately 45 percent of Jasper's population. Whites live in one part of town, Blacks in another. They have always come together, on the streets, on the job, at play, but seldom on race.

Local businessman John Matthews says "I think it's just made people more aware of some of the racial indifference we've had here in the community."

"Now I'm seeing more whites speak out in a forceful way than they had in the past." says Reverend Kenneth Lyons.

The children of Jasper have been particularly effected by the murder trial. John William King has robbed a town full of children of their innocence, reports CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod. At a time of life when black and white are supposed to be two colors of crayons, they are confronting the grownup reality of racism.

Parents and children across the country have been forced recently into a "facts of life" talk with their kids years before they were ready. But sex in the Oval Office is nothing compared to what adults have had to explain to children in Jasper.

Pam Freeman is making King pay for the innocence he stole by using him as a lesson for the kids she counsels in the Jasper schools.

"This is what can happen to you if you don't make some positive choices in your life," she tells children. "If you don't think that gangs are bad, or you don't think that being racist is bad, take a look around you."

Businessman Charles Beatty says life here seems different now. "I think the relationship between blacks and whites has got better than what they were before all this happened."

But it seems turning back the clock, getting back to normal will be impossible.

Jasper resident Todd Hunt said "I guess we'll never get back to normal. And we shouldn't. I don't want to go back to normal. Nobody wants to go back to normal."