Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Race Merchants



  Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was a black boy who was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Till was from Chicago, Illinois, visiting his relatives in Money, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta region, when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married proprietor of a small grocery store there. Several nights later, Bryant's husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam arrived at Till's great-uncle's house where they took Till, transported him to a barn, beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River, weighting it with a 70-pound (32 kg) cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was discovered and retrieved from the river three days later. Till was returned to Chicago and his mother, who had raised him mostly by herself, insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing. Tens of thousands attended his funeral or viewed his casket and images of his mutilated body were published in black magazines and newspapers, rallying popular black support and white sympathy across the U.S. Intense scrutiny was brought to bear on the condition of black civil rights in Mississippi, with newspapers around the country critical of the state. Although initially local newspapers and law enforcement officials decried the violence against Till and called for justice, they soon began responding to national criticism by defending Mississippians, which eventually transformed into support for the killers.

 The trial attracted a vast amount of press attention. Bryant and Milam were acquitted of Till's kidnapping and murder, but only months later, in a magazine interview, protected against double jeopardy, they admitted to killing him. Till's murder is noted as a pivotal event motivating the black Civil Rights Movement. Problems identifying Till affected the trial, partially leading to Bryant's and Milam's acquittals, and the case was officially reopened by the United States Department of Justice in 2004. As part of the investigation, the body was exhumed and autopsied resulting in a positive identification. He was reburied in a new casket, which is the standard practice in cases of body exhumation. His original casket was donated to the Smithsonian Institution. Events surrounding Emmett Till's life and death, according to historians, continue to resonate, and almost every story about Mississippi returns to Till, or the region in which he died, in "some spiritual, homing way".


  In the early morning of June 12, 1963, just hours after President John F. Kennedy's speech on national television in support of civil rights, Evers pulled into his driveway after returning from a meeting with NAACP lawyers. Emerging from his car and carrying NAACP T-shirts that read "Jim Crow Must Go," Evers was struck in the back with a bullet fired from an Enfield 1917 rifle; it ricocheted into his home. He staggered 9 meters (30 feet) before collapsing. He died at a local hospital 50 minutes later. The driveway where Medgar Evers was shot. Mourned nationally, Evers was buried on June 19 in Arlington National Cemetery, where he received full military honors before a crowd of more than 3,000. On June 21, 1963, Byron De La Beckwith, a fertilizer salesman and member of the White Citizens' Council (and later of the Ku Klux Klan), was arrested for Evers' murder. District Attorney and future governor Bill Waller prosecuted De La Beckwith. Juries composed solely of white men twice that year deadlocked on De La Beckwith's guilt. In 1994, 30 years after the two previous trials had failed to reach a verdict, De La Beckwith was brought to trial based on new evidence. Bobby DeLaughter was the prosecutor. During the trial, the body of Evers was exhumed from his grave for an autopsy. De La Beckwith was convicted of murder on February 5, 1994, after having lived as a free man for much of the three decades following the killing (he was imprisoned from 1977 to 1980 for conspiring to murder A. I. Botnick). De La Beckwith appealed unsuccessfully, and died at age 80 in prison in January 2001. I have relayed the stories of these two murders to illustrate the ridiculous lengths that people are going to link these murders to the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. The Martin attorney actually had the temerity to make this comparison. You cannot seriously compare the brutal murder of a fourteen year old boy for whistling at a white woman and a man that was shot in the back by a coward in front of his children to a killing in which a man felt the need to defend himself from a thug. Even if Zimmerman overreacted it still cannot be seriously compared to these two murders. The juries in the first two murders were made up of white males. The Zimmerman jury was made up of six women who were seriously dedicated to arriving at a just decision compared to the all white male juries. When the race merchants make these ridiculous comparisons they lose all credibility with logical people of all colors.
The body of Trayvon Martin

Emmett Till in life
Emmett Till in death

The funeral of Medgar  Evers



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