Why America Cannot Let Emmett Till Rest in Peace

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For a third time, some white-supremacist-fucks have vandalized a plaque commemorating the spot where Emmett Till’s tortured body was pulled from a Mississippi river in August 1955. Since this memorial marker was first installed in 2007, it has been stolen and then shot up with guns, most recently on July 26, 2018—a month after it had replaced another bullet-ridden plaque.

The despicable lynching and butchery of 14-year-old Emmett Till, falsely accused by Southern white society, was nothing new in Jim Crow Amerikkka. To hear the story, go here and here.  But what was totally new and unprecedented was the breadth and fierceness of the response to this outrage. The outpouring of rage instead of fear formed the outlook of a generation—among Black people especially but also among many white people. This echoed around the world, and called attention to the hypocrisy of the so-called “leader of the free world.” It shows how long-suppressed anger against injustices can suddenly and dramatically burst forth in mass and determined struggle and change the way that millions worldwide see things. 

This happened because a small number of people—starting with Emmett’s mother Mamie Till-Mobley, and others from Money, Mississippi such as Emmett’s uncle, stood up and spoke out defiantly before the world. She insisted on an open casket to make the world confront the gruesome remains of what had been her beautiful son at the hands of good ole American boys. In his 2017 book, The Blood of Emmett Till, author Timothy B. Tyson captures this in writing that “Emmett’s murder would never have become a watershed historical moment without Mamie finding the strength to make her private grief a public matter.”

The incredibly courageous and broad-minded role of Emmett’s mother was the spark igniting feelings that had been building among the masses of Black people for some time. It accelerated and spurred on an urgent sense that things MUST change. All this took shape in the civil rights movement during and after that moment. Mamie noted that “When people saw what happened to my son, men stood up who had never stood up before,” in this case by the heroic actions of a few people on a foundation of organizing that had been going on (including in Mississippi) and a seething anger among millions that continues to exist today.

America and its racist thugs, now a fascist reincarnation of the lynch mobs of the past under Trump, cannot give up the hatred of this memory because it portends possibilities of the dam bursting again, and again. The unbearable stink of white supremacy has Emmett’s blood screaming from its root for justice. The same system that allows these commemorative signs to be vandalized is the very same system that allowed Emmett Till and so many others to be murdered. It is a system that is marked for being overthrown by all those who may have never stood up before—but can and must do so now.

Bob Avakian, "Emmett Till and Jim Crow: Black people lived under a death sentence"

A clip from the film of the talk by Bob Avakian, "Revolution: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About." Watch the entire talk at Revolutiontalk.net.

Click here to read a transcript of this film clip.


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