Elephants in the Room: Buffalo Attendance Teachers

Elephants in the Room: Buffalo Attendance Teachers
Buffalo School Board need to reinstate the Attendance Teachers

Mamie Till Mobley

"I made a commitment to rip the covers off Mississippi, USA-revealing to the world the horrible face of race hatred. I took the privacy of my own grief and turned it into a public issue, a political issue, one which set in motion the dynamic force that led ultimately to a generation of social and legal progress in this country." (2003)

Death of Innocense: the Story of the Hate Crime that Changed America (2003)

"The jurors heard one thing that was important to them, and that was a white woman's claim that a black boy had insulted her. That was all they needed to know ... it was all they would consider in making up their minds." Mamie Till Mobley

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Murder of Emmett Till

The murder of Emmett Till (1941-1955) on August 28,1955 in Mississippi is one of the most heinous crimes ever committed on a youth in America.
Before she died in 2003 Mamie Till Bradley wrote "the past shapes the way we are in the present and the way we will become what we are destined to become. It is only because I have finally understood the past, accepted it, embraced it, that I can fully live in the moment."
One does have to look back into the past to make some sense of life in the present in the context of the social forces that shape it to make sense of it, understand it and move on to overcome it and to become a better person in the same way she managed, becoming a school teacher , communicating important lessons of hope to the hundreds of children passing through her classroom in the fifty years she lived after the murder of Emmett Till in 1955.
Yet, the more one reads about "Bobo" his nickname, the more one wonders what had happened in the barn the day of his abduction, torture, and murder his mangled body found three days later upside down his legs the only part visible sticking out the Tallahatchie River weighted down by a 70 lb gin fan barbed wired around his neck as an anchor. One eyewitness remembered hearing the screams from the barn as Emmett Till struggled with his abductors as many as four or six white adult men-- one of them, J.W. Milan 6 ft 235 lbs -- courageously, challenging white supremacy and terrorism, an early martyr of the Civil Rights Movement
One of the other teenagers that accompanied Emmett Till to the store where the alleged incident of the infamous whistle at a white woman had happen, his cousin, mentioned things might have turned out differently if only his uncle knew what had happened. He kept a shot-gun in the house but was not ready because he didn't know they were coming for Emmett at 2 AM on Sunday morning, August 28,1955. They had promised Emmett they would not tell certainly a decision they had regretted. But they were young boys unaware of the perils ahead when the white men abducted Emmett.
I met Mrs. Mamie Till Mobley, before she died of heart failure on January 8, 2003, in Buffalo at the opening of the Emmett Till play about 2002 at the African-Cultural Center on Masten Avenue. The worst scene was the casket the image of Emmett, his face, the one bludgeoned shown up on a screen above the stage.
Interestingly, the U.S. Army executed the father of Emmett Till ten years earlier and he was court-martial in 1945 after allegedly he was found guilty of raping two Italian women. I found this point to be incredulous to think an enlisted African-American man essentially from a segregated and racist America would be raping white women in Europe.
In the her book,
Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime that Changed America (2003), Mrs. Till mentioned how he religiously sent his child support payments enough for her to save more than $5, 000, a large sum for any families in those days. Emmett's mother attempted to get information from the U.S. Army who denied her the records at the time, sending only a ring with his initials L.T, the one found on Emmett Tills decomposed body in the Tallahatchie River used to identify him.
Also, she recalled one time when they dated, Louis Till offered to buy her a banana split at a drugstore and stayed on the premises to consume it. While eating, the white proprietor approached them and threatened to tell her mother for daring to sit down at the drugstore, but she described a scene in her book how Mr. Louis Till, stood up in his 5ft 11 frame and challenged the owner, causing more local folks to enter sit down, therefore, integrated the drugstore.
This tale of terrorism from its inception was a heinous one that began when the U.S. Army executed Louis Till in 1945, , and ten years later his son Emmett Till murdered, bludgeoned to death in Mississippi in one of the worst cases of terrorism in U.S. history that catapulted the Civil Rights Movement.

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