“We refused to hate. Hating destroys the hater.”
-Wheeler Parker, cousin of Emmett Till
A few days ago, I blogged about how this week was the 40th anniversary of the release of the iconic album “Born to Run.” This week is also the date of another anniversary–one of far more consequence. On August 28, 1955, two white men came to a home in Mississippi where a 14 year-old black boy from Chicago was visiting relatives. They dragged the teenager, Emmett Till, out of the house in the dead of the night, then tortured him and finally shot him in the head. Sunday is the anniversary of when his mutilated body was found in the Tallahatchie River. Several days earlier, the youngster had whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi. Emmett Till, a teen from Chicago, didn’t understand that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South
Although his killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both acquitted quickly by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly afterwards, the defendants sold their story, including a detailed account of how they murdered Till, to a journalist.
The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world. Till’s death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Three months after his disfigured body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began.