“And just imagine how my girl feel … on the plane scared as hell that her guy look like Emmett Till.”
The previous statement is complements of Kanye West. Till’s undoing was just that much of a seminal moment in U.S. history.
It’s in the ilk of the “March on Washington,” “Selma to Montgomery Marches,” bombing of 16th Street Baptist Church and Rosa Parks not obliging to Jim Crow.
The ordeal involving Till in August of 1955 was that powerful. It was a scary, infuriating and heartbreaking fiasco.
Till, a 14-year-old black male from Chicago, was visiting his relatives in Mississippi. One day, after leaving a grocery store, he allegedly whistled at and flirted with Carolyn Bryant — a white woman. In the South of the 1950’s, African-Americans were expected to address whites with the utmost respect. In regard to black men, they were required to treat white women in a regal manner.
The Till-Bryant narrative publicly displayed just how dangerous it was to violate that tenet.
After being notified of his wife’s outrage, Mr. Bryant and an accomplice began to search for Till. Once Till’s whereabouts were confirmed, the men removed the teen from his uncle’s home. Eventually, the two adults beat the adolescent to death leaving his severely battered body in the Tallahatchie River. Neither of the men were charged for Till’s death.
The executing of Till, and Jet Magazine publishing a horrific open casket photo of his corpse, provided additional momentum for the blossoming Civil Rights movement.
The bludgeoning of Till was bound to remain one of those tragic stories from yesteryear.
However, a new chapter has been added to the saga. In the most unexpected manner, the unrest from over 60 years ago has returned to the forefront of our attention in the genesis of 2017.
In the recently released book “The Blood of Emmet Till,” Bryant, during a 2007 interview with the book’s author, acknowledged her accusation was a lie.
She would also state, “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”
Bryant’s falsehood is reprehensible. It’s amazing that a person could be so evil.
Naturally, there have been numerous conversations about what should happen to Bryant, who’s now 82. I side with the faction of people who believe that Bryant deserves to be reprimanded for having a role in the murder.
Nonetheless, in a strange twist of fate, the book disclosing Bryant’s confession is released during a moment of unusual tumult in this nation.
Currently, it seems as though cohesion is not wanted. People would rather be in a state of rage waiting for an opportunity to, “act up.”
The anger, fear, division of the U.S. during the Civil Rights era has always been hard for me to fathom. But I’m now getting a glimpse of what it was like at that time. And I am not comfortable with it.
History has a tendency to repeat itself. Yet I still believe in humanity. I’m optimistic that we as Americans will not regress to the kind of open hatred, mistrust and fear that once influenced every facet of our society.
The only answer is to love our fellow man enough to do what we can to mend fences – not create them. We don’t want another Till-like situation to unfold.
The level of lunacy will be gargantuan if something akin to the Till execution occurs in 2017.
Kev Moyè is an Arkansas journalist. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org