Black History Month is upon us. Black History is World History and it cannot be contained in 28 days. It is no secret that the suppressors of truth write the “History”, but it is we who must tell “Our Story” over and over again.
Sixty-two years ago, 14-year-old Emmett Till from Chicago, was lynched in Money, Mississippi. Carolyn Bryant ignited the spark to what ultimately led to a civil rights firestorm. The 21-year-old white woman told her husband that she had been harassed by Till at their store. She stated that she felt violated by him when he allegedly whistled at her. Till was later kidnapped, tortured and lynched by Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, for the offense claimed by Bryant’s wife.
On August 29th, Bryant and Milam were arrested in connection with the death of Emmett Till. Three days later, the weighted and decomposed body of the young boy was pulled from the Tallahatchie River. On September 6th, Emmett Till was laid to rest in Chicago, Illinois.
On September 23rd, after only 67 minutes of deliberation, an all-white and all male jury returned a not guilty verdict for both men.
Recently, Carolyn Bryant Donham, Till’s accuser, granted Timothy B. Dyson, a Duke University Professor, an exclusive interview. In his book, he recalls Bryant’s long-ago allegations that Till grabbed her, was menacing and sexually crude. To that statement, she replied, that part is not true.
The Black community is all too familiar with “new voices” coming forth after the demise of its loved ones. Over the decades, we have watched as witnesses have changed their minds and testimonies.
Can we pause and ask ourselves this question? How much has changed in the rush to judgement when African-Americans are accused of a crime? Who is next? Is it your family member? Is it your neighbor? Is it the person in the next cubicle? Could it be you? You decide. Many innocent men and women have physically and emotionally died because someone shared alternative facts.