Sunday, October 24, 2004

Emmitt Till

And just imagine how my girl feel
On the plane, scared as hell that her guy look like Emmett Till

Kayne West - Through the wire
Truth be told last year when I heard this line it was the first reference I had ever heard of Emmitt Till. A quick internet search led me to the disturbing story of the 1955 torture and murder of this 14 year old boy all because he had the audacity to whistle at a white woman in Mississippi.

In case you don't know the story, Emmitt, a Chicago native, was visiting family in Mississippi when he and some cousins went to a store to buy some candy. As they were leaving, Emmitt whistled at the white store owner's wife which was a no-no in those days for any black man or boy. The boys fled but three days later the woman's husband, his brother and some other persons came to the house where Emmitt was staying and abducted him basically at gunpoint. Three days later, his body was discovered with the face gruesomely disfigured; nose broken, eye loose from the socket, ear cut off and a bullet hole in his temple. He had been beaten, tortured and then dumped into the Tallahassee river with a huge cotton gin fan attached to his neck.

The town sheriff attempted to bury him quickly but his mother was able to bring the body back to Chicago for an open casket funeral. She wanted the world to see man's inhumanity to man as shown by the gruesomely disfigured face of her son.

What comes next is almost as unbelievable to us in this time period but for that era and location it was run of the mill. Two of the abductors were arrested and indicted on murder but at their trial they were found not guilty by an all white jury in under 2 hours. Later one of the abductors admitted to the press his part in the kidnapping, torture and murder but nothing was ever done to him.

Fast forward almost 50 years to the here and now. It appears that because of some work done by a young black filmmaker, the FBI and US Justice Department may be looking to reopen the Emmitt Till case. From research done it appears up to 14 persons were involved in the crimes committed against this young man ... including surprisingly or not so surprisingly as the case may be a number of black men.

Even though justice has never been done some good did come out of this case. It gave a lot of impetus to the civil rights movement and while just whistling at a white woman may have led Emmitt Till to his death 50 years ago, today Tiger Woods can marry one and its not really an issue. Lots of black men should be thankful. Its like Biggie said 'Things dun changed".

R.I.P Emmitt

1 comment:

obifromsouthlondon said...

I remember the case was on T.V a few years ago. Things might have changed but some old habits die hard. Read some case about some black kid up in the south of America who got a 10 year sentence for his relationship with some white 15 year old girl. think they do him for sex with a minor or some ish. the boy was like 17 or about at the time. forgotten his name.