Slippin’ Into Darkness: Losing Emmett and Trayvon… An American Experience, an American Nightmare By Mae Catherine Godhigh

Our waitress smiled as she completed the food order. In the background I could hear the soulful lyrics of War’s “Slippin’ Into Darkness.”  My mind pivoted to the present climate of our country. Even Fake News could educate us about Comply and Die or Stand Your Ground. YouTube videos are loaded with these scenarios. These loop-holes are nothing more than legalized murder plus paid vacation. Loop-holes in a broken system will eventually lead to legalized genocide.

The fabric of America, our credibility, our humanity and are rights are slippin’ into darkness. Excerpts from my 2013 article: Losing Emmett and Trayvon… An American Experience, an American NightmareWhat do these victims of America’s Justice System have in common? Both Black young men died on the killing fields of America.On July 25, 1941, Emmett Louis Till was born in Chicago, Illinois to the proud parents of Louis and Mamie Till. He was brutally murdered while visiting his relatives in Money, Mississippi.

Emmett Louis Till was a 14-year-old Black youth who lost his life because he was accused of “flirting with a 21-year-old white woman.” Her name was Carolyn Bryant and she was a co-owner of a small grocery store in Money.Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam drove to Emmett’s great-uncle’s Moses house. The men took Emmett and drove him to a barn, beat him and gouged out one of his eyes and finally shot him through the head. Before they disposed of his body, they weighted it with a 70-pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was discovered and retrieved from the Tallahatchie River, river three days later.

The trial was held in September 1955, and lasted for five days. An all white male jury was seated. Two witnesses for the State testified that they heard someone being beaten, blows, and cries. One testified so quietly the judge ordered him several times to speak louder, he heard the victim call out, “Mama! Lord have mercy! Lord have mercy!” – The jury returned the verdicts of Not Guilty for Roy Bryant and J.W. Milan.

In Florida, on February 5, 1995, Trayvon Benjamin Martin was born to the proud parents of Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin. Trayvon was a 17-year-old high Black high school student. He will be forever 17 years old.On February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch captain observed Trayvon as he returned to the Twin Lakes Gated Community.  Later, witnesses testified they heard a voice yelling for help! Trayvon’s parents testified the desperate pleads for help belonged to their son. Zimmerman claimed it was his voice yelling for help even though he was armed with a black Kel-Tec PF-9 9mm semi-automatic pistol and Trayvon was unarmed. Later, Zimmerman was found not guilty.

In the southern night, Till and Martin began to slip into darkness. They pleaded for help and death answered. In both cases, the people who were responsible for delivering justice didn’t look like them nor did they vindicate them. Emmett‘s life ended in a rural barn in Mississippi. Trayvon’s life ended on a manicured lawn in Sanford, Florida. Different sons in different states but the results were the same. Sadly enough, both were “murdered twice” in America.

The irony of this story is both sons used their last breaths to call Mama, for help and upon the Lord.Emmett Till’s help came when his mother Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley had the courage and fortitude to spark the civil rights movement. What lie in Emmett’s open coffin was not his remains but the distorted face of America’s unconscious racism. Trayvon Martin’s help came when his parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin established the Trayvon Martin Foundation. Until then, we will not be silent, we will not faint and we will Vote. Emmett and Trayvon, Rest In Power!