Bryant's Grocery Mississippi Freedom Trail Marker
Aug. 28, 2017, marks the 62nd anniversary of the lynching of Emmett Louis Till, a 14-year-old boy from Chicago who was visiting relatives in Mississippi when he allegedly whistled at Carolyn Bryant Donham, a white woman. Her husband, Roy Bryant, and J.W. Milam kidnapped and brutally murdered Emmett on Aug. 28, 1955. His death, open-casket funeral and the acquittal of the murderers, (who later confessed after being paid $4,000), all contributed to outrage across the nation and was the impetus for the Civil Rights Movement. His murder and lack of justice still haunts us today.
Throughout history, certain events have directed, or even redirected, the course of our society. Historians often try to find the focal point of past events for the next generation of humanity. The kidnapping, torture and murder of Emmett Till were unarguably the biggest focal points that changed the course of history within the last 100 years. This cruel, senseless act was the spark that ignited the Civil Rights Movement, which has shaped America into what it is today.
Today the fight carries on, and our fight is for justice. We seek justice for Emmett Till.
Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white woman who claimed Emmett whistled at her and attacked her, has admitted that she lied.
For the past 50-plus years, the Till family have held in their hearts the truth of Emmett's innocence. His mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, spoke out for years after the murder of her son to try to send the message to the world that no matter what her son may have done, he did not deserve his horrible fate. Mamie Till died in 2003. She never knew the truth about what happened to her son. We owe it to her, to Emmett, and to those men and women whom history has rendered both faceless and nameless to seek justice.
Even now in 2017, our society is refusing to render justice to Emmett Till. When does it all stop?
Congressman John Lewis, who himself is a civil-rights icon, once spoke on his refusal to be silent. He said that his parents pleaded with him to leave things alone, that this is the way things are, and they told him, “Don't make noise.” But the congressman, who was then a young man, said that he had to find a way to make some noise for change.
This is what we must do now. We have to get in the way and make some noise. This is the only way to fight injustice. To make noise, we must use our voices to speak up when we see injustices in our communities, and to not be afraid to stand on the side of history and do what is right. We must all use our voices and platforms to help us in the battle for justice.
This is not the time for us to tear one another down. This is the time for us to unite with one another.
Justice for Emmett is not a black issue. This fight for justice transcends race.
No longer can we remain silent. I refuse to sit back on the 62nd anniversary of Emmett Till’s death and be silent. Mamie wanted the world to see what happened to her son, and we want the world to never forget it. We must demand that justice be served. I challenge you all to take bold steps like she did to speak up and speak out when you see those injustices within your community.
Duvalier Malone is the CEO and founder of Duvalier Malone Enterprises.