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Happy Birthday Emmett Louis Till

Today, July 25, 2023 would have been Emmett Louis Till's 82nd birthday. If he wasn't murdered in 1955, he would probably be alive today.

I always wonder what would have became of Emmett Till. I think about Till being 82 years young, retiring after a long successful career living in a beautiful home in the Woodlawn neighborhood with his beautiful wife of 50-60+ years. I think about Till having four children (2 boys, 2 girl) with several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I think about Till being a Chicago community activist alongside the late Timuel Black, Conrad, Worrill, Lu Palmer, Jorga Palmer, Rev. Addie Wyatt, Hazel Johnson and several unsung black heroes and sheroes in Chicago. Today I wonder again, what would have Emmett Till became and how he would have celebrated his 82nd birthday.

I attended the last day of DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center's traveling exhibit "Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Let The World See." The exhibit was very informative, educational and interactive. There were several artifacts, photos and quotes of who Emmett Till was, the tragedy in 1955 in Money, MS and how Black Americans are dealing with the injustices that still exist today. We still march for all the Emmett Tills.

I enjoyed learning about Till who was called "Bobo" by his family. To me, he seemed like your average teenager from the southside of Chicago making friends, getting into a little mischief and a prankster. I loved seeing the different photos of Till especially the photo of him on his bike smiling enjoying a beautiful summer day in Chicago. I think about what toys he might have played with as a teen. Did he play with a slinky, jacks, yoyo and action figures?

The interactive suitcase discussed about the rules of going to Mississippi that include not trying on clothes, hats unless Blacks were going to buy it, walking on the other side of the sidewalk when a white person is present and not staring or looking at a white women. There is a copy of Till's last note to his mother. I love the last sentence saying he was out of money.

Each display shows how the lynching of Till and Mamie Till-Mobley's strength and courage activated the Civil Rights Movement and continues today.

It was riveting to hear Rev. Wheeler Parker, who witnessed his cousin being abducted by Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam.

Mamie Till-Mobley insisted that AA Rayner & Sons Funeral Home, located on the southside of Chicago to open the casket. According to PBS America Experience, Rayner promised Mississippi authorities that he would keep the casket nailed shut. When Till-Mobley asked him to open it up, Rayner refused. Till-Mobley stated that if he can't open it, she will. She wanted to see her son.

Rayner asked Till-Mobley if she wanted him to touch up Emmet's body. Till-Mobley said "No, Mr. Rayner, let the people see what I've seen." Over 50,000 people viewed the body of Emmett Till at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago. Emmett Till's funeral service was from September 3-6, 1955.

Mamie Till-Mobley made sure that Black media, Ebony, Jet and the Chicago Defender, where the first to publish what happened to her son. Black media is very important. As a former journalist, there have been plenty of times where I was the only Black person in the room to cover stories. Roland Martin, founder of "Roland Martin Unfiltered" used a quote from the Freedom’s Journal, the first Black newspaper founded in 1827. "We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us." Black Media Matters!!!!!

Ruby Hurley was born and raised in Washington, DC. She was a very active with the NAACP in the 1950s and 1960s investigating racial murder and incidents against Blacks. Hurley investigated the murders of Rev. George Lee who was killed in 1955 for refusing to remove his name from the voting roll in Belzoni MS and NAACP field secretary Medgar Evers. Hurley went to Money, MS dressed undercover as a cotton picker to interview witnesses about Till's death.

Her investigations led to death threats and bombs were thrown at her home. This left Hurley being diagnosed with a stress disorder due to the the racism and segregation she experienced. Hurley died on August 9, 1980.

Mamie Till-Mobley committed her life to activism and justice for her son. I wished that she had gotten the justice that she deserved before she passed away on January 6, 2003. Till-Mobley only had one child that was lynched and was not able to have any grandchildren, great-grandchildren to continue the lineage. That is what upsets me the most.

In the center of the exhibit is furniture that was used in the movie, "Women of the Movement." Other pieces of furniture from the movie is housed at the Mound Bayou Museum of African American Culture and History, in Mound Bayou, MS, the oldest, all Black community in the United States founded in 1887. The museum includes a replica of a cotton gin fan that was used to weigh down Emmett Till's body in the Tallahatchie River and a dress worn by actress Adrienne Warren who portrayed Mamie Till-Bradley.

In Mississippi, there is a Tallahatchie Civil Rights Driving Tour that consist of 10 locations of the timeline that led to Emmett Till's death. Unfortunately, a few markers have been vandalized and/or riddled with bullets. New markers have been installed and repeatedly vandalized. I did the tour and it is dishearten to see the level of hate towards a deceased 14 year old who was murdered because of a lie. Even in death, Emmett Till is STILL a threat.

To see the tour virtual go here.

I had the opportunity to interview Rev. Wheeler Parker. To have witnessed the abduction of his best friend and cousin that he call "Bobo," is the last living survivor. His newly released book, "A Few Days Full of Trouble: Revelations on the Journey to Justice for My Cousin and Best Friend, Emmett Till," Rev. Parker details about his cousin, new findings from the investigations of Emmet's death, his life from a youth to adulthood and the constant struggles of the memory of witnessing his cousin being abducted.

Rev. Parker and his family members continue the legacy of Emmett Till and Mamie Till Mobley.

To honor Emmet Till, I will continue to educate the stories of Black men, women and children that have suffered from the injustices, inequities and Black History that are being banned from schools and libraries. Emmet Till's life and story matters and others that suffered the same fate.

Happy Birthday Emmett Till!!!!! Rest in Power!!!!!

Thanks to the DuSable Black History Museum and Education Center for having this essential exhibit on display.

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