Friday, February 28, 2020

Emmett's Law

Emmett Till
1941 - 1955

Rosa Parks
It staggers the imagination when one considers the fact that Emmett Till would have turned seventy-nine this July 25. He is eternally frozen in time as a fourteen-year-old boy whose brutal murder in Mississippi in the summer of 1955 was the spark that ignited the civil rights movement. Less than four months later, Rosa Parks, tired after a long day's work, would refuse to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus to a white man, an act of defiance that got her arrested for violating that state's blatantly unconstitutional apartheid laws. Once the ball started rolling it would never stop - even after a man of African descent was elected president of the United States in 2008. The reverberations of the murder of Emmett Till and the arrest of Rosa Parks, two events that occurred three years before I was born, are still being felt today. Although it wasn't readily apparent at the time, America changed forever in 1955; it just took a few years for the rest of America to understand and appreciate the scope of that change.

The "crime" for which Emmett Till paid with his life is still a mystery sixty-five years later. One story had it that he gave a wolf whistle toward the white woman inside the grocery store her family owned. Another said that he was merely behaving too uppity for local tastes. Whatever the reason, it was obvious that Emmett, a Chicago native who was visiting relatives, was unfamiliar with the South's code of conduct with respect to black males and their interactions with white women. The woman's husband and and his half brother found out where the boy was staying and abducted him in the dead of night. They took him to a deserted barn where they tortured and killed him. His body was found in the Tallahatchie River, bloated and disfigured. When his mother made the funeral arraignments days later, she insisted on an open casket. Mamie Till wanted the world to bear witness to what hate had done to her child. It was a profound statement. You can google the image if you want to. I cannot bring myself to post it here.

In the wake of international condemnation, the state of Mississippi was forced to send Emmett's killers to trial. Both men were acquitted of his murder. They have both since died. 
Mamie Till at Emmett's Funeral
Two days ago the House of Representatives FINALLY passed legislation that makes lynching a federal hate crime. It has yet to pass the senate. I hope they do the right thing. This is something that should have been done over a century ago but - better late than never, ay? The fact that it took this long to do what is so obviously the decent thing does not reflect positively on America's history. The fact that Emmett Till today would be pushing eighty had he been bequeathed the gift of time is shocking enough. That apartheid in the south did not end at that moment is unacceptable in hindsight. A statue of Emmett should be erected smack dab in the center of Money, Mississippi where this unspeakable crime took place sixty-five years ago, lest we ever forget.

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


A Very Stable Genius
by Carol Leonnig
and Phillip Rucker

If you don't read another book this year, read this unsettling look inside the Trump White House. If you're not profoundly disturbed and alarmed after you've finished, it can only mean that your reading comprehension level is ZERO. This is a book that historians and educators will still be discussing fifty years from now. It is the most important book to come out in years. Here is a link to order it off of

A keeper if ever there was one!


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At 2:37 PM, Blogger Just the Facts! said...

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DNC Changes Debate Rules to Exclude Only Woman in Race


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