Sixty five years have gone by since the sweating August day in Mississippi where the air, so thick with the heat of summer in the Delta lay heavy on the boy’s chest. Chicago got hot, but nothing like that. Which is perhaps why a boy of 14 made the mistake of looking up. Or did he bump her? Did he walk too close, or merely not lay himself low enough in her presence?
What we can be sure of, is that 24 hours later the shopkeeper’s husband kidnapped this boy from his Uncle’s house in the early hours of morning, beat the boy til he was barely breathing before winding his neck in razor wire, shooting the boy in the chest, then dumping him in the Tallahatchie River.
Two months later a jury acquitted his murderers. Sixty five years gone by since Emmett Till was murdered, and I’m thinking, at least they were charged. At least they weren’t in uniform and sworn by duty to protect the boy. At least the boy’s parents didn’t pay his killer’s salaries with their tax dollars. I keep hearing we’ve made progress, but I am Chicago in ‘55, wailing for a murdered child. Is it progress because I’m white? I struggle to believe it.