Emmett Till: Tragedy and Travesty 59 Years Ago (Video)

 

Mamie Till

Mamie Till at the glass-topped open casket containing the remains of her son, 14-year-old son, Emmett Till. Ms. Till’s decision to have the casket open forced a nation to deal with the realities of race in America. It was a pivotal moment in the cause of civil rights.

A gruesome event that remains synonymous with the jim crow south. A tragedy though chilling enough, the travesty to come even deepened the wound. Today, marks the 59th anniversary of the start of events that brought our national creed face-to-face with its inner most demons. On this date in 1955, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam were indicted for the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till.

On Aug. 31, 1955, a mutilated body was discovered, floating in the Tallahatchie River. What the nation would soon discover seared the American psyche and exposed “the system” at the root of black grievances that connects Jamestown, Va. in 1619 to Ferguson, Mo. in 2014.

August of 1955 exposed the tragedy of unfettered hatred. September of that year exposed the travesty of a nation of laws that often circumvent justice. The latter is instructive, even now, as we await a grand jury decision whether or not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson for fatally shooting an unarmed black teen, Michael Brown.

Remembering Emmett Till is to, first and foremost, consider the tragedy of evils that convened to end his life. Our remembrance, likewise, raises questions that explore the travesty of systems that shape American society. Criminal justice. Media. Politics. Community and culture. And with each of these, their intersections with white supremacy and institutional racism.

And 59 years later, we can gain insights from arguably the most haunting questions. Were black men involved in the kidnapping and execution of Emmett Till? And if so, what does this mean?

 

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