The past few months my class and I have been diving deep into the civil rights movement in America in the 50s/60s. This is fitting, as right now we are seeing the world uprise against similar things that the civil rights movement fought for. Still, in 2020 we are seeing issues that relate straight back to the ’50s and 60’s civil rights movement. The Black Lives Matter movement started in 2013 but has been brought to the frontlines of media even more right now. In this post I’m going to talk about two murders of black Americans who’s story’s are parallel, and what we can do to help stop this.
On August 28, 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old African American was murdered by Roy Bryant and J.W Milam. Till was on a trip with his cousins in Mississippi, and while at a country store (similar to a now convenience store) he was accused of “flirting” with the woman working at the store.
He continued on with his trip, but a few days went missing, and a few days after that, he was found dead floating in the Tallahatchie River. He was murdered by the woman’s husband and his half brother. Authorities wanted to bury the body quickly and hide all of what had happened but Till’s mother, Mamie Bradley, insisted on having the body sent back to Chicago, where Mamie and Emmett lived. She had an open casket funeral because he was so brutally mutilated, she wanted everyone and the media to see him and how he died. This was the closest thing at the time to something now going viral online nowadays. Mamie got it in multiple newspapers, and everyone saw pictures of Till’s 14-year-old body mutilated. A lot of America was shocked. Till’s murderers were never charged, even after his mother brought it to court. Emmett Till’s murder was one of the first events that forced society to look at the brutality that black Americans face. Till became an icon of the civil rights movement.
On May 25, 2020, the world was struck by a video of a 46-year-old black man named George Floyd, being murdered by a police officer. George Floyd was arrested outside a convenience store in Minneapolis, Minnesota because some accused of him using a counterfeit 20 dollar bill and called the cops on him. Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes while Floyd was handcuffed face-down on pavement repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe”. Three other officers were on scene, holding back the public from helping Floyd. Floyd died, on the ground, begging for his life. While some people see this as a police officer doing his job, anyone with a working brain sees it as an incredibly brutal murder to an innocent black man. All of this was filmed and brought to the media, for all the world to see. This sparked a fire in everyone around the world, fighting for the movement Black Lives Matter.
1955, 2020, 64 years apart. Emmett Till and George Floyd’s murders were in different decades, yet remind us of the brutal problems in America (Canada isn’t innocent either I’m just talking about America right now). Floyd and Till’s murders are parallel. History is repeating, and the world is NOT having it. Since Floyd’s murder, protests, riots, petitions, resources, and so much more have been flooding our lives via the media due to the issues of racism and social injustice in America. The BLM movement has had more progress in the past 2 weeks than in the past 7 years. The video of George Floyd being murdered captured generations of injustice and brutality that black people face and the world is trying to help to stop this. Police and white Americans murdering black Americans has been a regular occurrence since forever, but now it’s being filmed more than ever and shared online, which is an amplification of Emmett Till’s funeral. Floyd’s and Till’s murders have been society’s tipping points. But how many tipping points do there have to be until things change?
“If you stick a knife nine inches into my back and pull it out three inches, that is not progress. Even if you pull it all the way out, that is not progress. Progress is healing the wound, and America hasn’t even begun to pull out the knife. They won’t even admit it’s there.”—Malcolm X
As long as America runs on a white system, things like this will continue to happen. Emmett Till and George Floyd are proof of this. It’s been 64 years but now we are seeing murders and violence towards black Americans DAILY because everyone has a camera and it is now being captured. Actually seeing the violence and horror with their eyes is waking people up.
Why I’m bringing this up is because I want this blog post to be a reminder of what’s going on right now, and what HAS been going on, and share some resources to how we can help. Floyd and Till are just two of the thousands of black Americans that have been brutalized and murdered in the past 64 years. I’m going to link here a website made by a 17-year-old student in the states. It has a few sections and links where you can sign petitions, donate, and educate yourself.