Late civil rights icon Emmett Louis Till’s 80th birthday is Sunday, July 25th and to commemorate it, New Jersey’s leading progressive Democrat will read the names of America citizens who were killed while
Till is the black Chicago teen who was brutally tortured and murdered by white racists Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam in Money, Mississippi on August 28, 1955. The men beat the teenager beyond recognition and shot him in the head before dumping his body in the Tallahatchie River.
His death launched a the modern civil rights movement after Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, allowed Jet Magazine to publish pictures of his mangled body in an effort to show the world what racists in Mississippi had done to her only child.
“For her son’s funeral in Chicago, Mamie Till insisted that the casket containing his body be left open, because, in her words, ‘I wanted the world to see what they did to my baby.’ Today, I am reading the names of victims of police violence because I want the world to know what they did to my brothers and sisters,” said Lisa McCormick.
“Three months after Emmett Till’s murder, Rosa Parks kept her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus, and she later told Mamie Till that she’d been thinking of her son when she refused to move,” said McCormick. “Almost 60 years later, Trayvon Martin was killed, and he along with so many more are now inscribed on the Internet to help bring awareness, accountability, and change by remembering Black lives that were taken unjustly.”
Trayvon Martin was a 17-year-old African-American boy who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman, who stalked and confronted him while the youth was innocently walking back to his father’s house in Florida, after buying iced tea and candy at a convenience store.
McCormick credited the website sayevery.name for helping keep alive the memories of the lives lost to the terror of racism, excessive force, and countless other injustices.
Till’s cousin the Rev. Wheeler Parker, Jr., Emmett Till Memorial Commission Executive Director Patrick Weems and New York Times Magazine journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones are among the event’s participants of a forum moderated by Northwestern University journalism professor Christopher Benson at the DuSable Museum.
The life of Emmett Louis Till, who was born July 25, 1941, in Chicago and brutally murdered Aug. 28, 1955, in the Mississippi Delta when he was age 14, was commemorated at the DuSable Museum this weekend.
In September 1955, Bryant and Milam, were prosecuted by state authorities for Till’s murder in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi but they were each acquitted in a jury trial.
Both men subsequently admitted that they murdered Till according to a story published in Look Magazine, before Milam and Bryant died in 1981 and 1994, respectively.
Both the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Museum of Mississippi History, which are located side-by-side in Jackson, Mississippi, were offering free admission and gave guided tours that highlighted Till’s life and legacy.
“As we embark on the birthday of our beloved Emmett Till, let’s reflect on how this young man created a movement of people who wanted more for themselves and their communities,” said Pamela D.C. Junior, director of the Two Mississippi Museums. “In honor of the day that he was born, July 25, 1941, the Two Mississippi Museums will offer free admission to our visitors to read and to learn more about the life of this fourteen year old who was taken from the world too soon.”
An historic landmark was dedicated at the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Home, 6427 S. St. Lawrence Ave. in Chicago, where Blacks in Green, the nonprofit that recently purchased the property, hosted neighborhood residents for a plaque commemoration ceremony.
In San Diego, the late civil rights icon’s 80th birthday was commemorated by Eric J. Chambers, host of a jazz and gospel show on KIFM, who presented a radio musical tribute.
The 1954–1968 civil rights movement in the United States was preceded by a decades-long campaign by African Americans and their like-minded allies to end legalized racial discrimination, disenfranchisement and racial segregation in the United States.
The movement’s nonviolent resistance and civil disobedience campaigns eventually secured new protections in federal law for the human rights of all Americans.
After the Civil War and the subsequent abolition of slavery in the 1860s, the formerly enslaved citizens and other African Americans were increasingly deprived of civil rights, often under the so-called Jim Crow laws, ‘separate but equal’ racial segregation, discrimination and sustained violence.
“Just as the abolition of slavery inspired a campaign of violence which was waged by the Ku Klux Klan, the Red Shirts and White League, once-Confederate states are currently dominated by Republicans,” said McCormick. “Republicans, who are passing laws disenfranchising not only African Americans but all poor or working-class people who can be made second-class citizens excluded from the political system, to prevent them from electing Democrats.”
“We have waited a very long time to bring this historically necessary important film to people,” said Whoopi Goldberg, who co-stars playing the role of the murder victim’s grandmother, Alma Carthan, in the feature drama titled Till. “And as we watch the repression of American history when it comes to people of color it makes it even that more important.”
“It is a gift to learn the legacy and intimacies of our ancestors, those familial and communal, as is the life of Mamie Till-Mobley, a public leader and mother of the movement,” said Danielle Deadwyler, who will portray Mamie Till-Mobley in the film about her fight for justice for her 14-year-old son.
The Justice Department is continuing its investigation into the Mississippi killing, which occurred 65 years ago, sparking outrage and illustrating the brutality of racism in the segregated South.
The department’s latest report on civil rights cold cases, released late last month, lists three investigations dating back decades that were closed because witnesses or suspects have died, leads went nowhere or cases were too old to prosecute, but the Till case wasn’t among them.
Relatives of Till said they didn’t know of anyone in the family who’d received official notification that the review had ended, a key step in the department’s process.
President Joe Biden recently assailed Republican-led states pushing to tighten voting rules, calling it an “unfolding assault … on liberty.”