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The DOJ has reopened Emmett Till’s case over six decades later

aw14

Well-Known Member

The Mom

Moderator
Premium Member
terrible. I know she probably has little time left...but she should be brought to justice, whatever that may be
It's about time. I'm Christian, so I think that even if she isn't brought to justice here, she will still have to face judgement. I would not want to be in her shoes - I have much to answer for, but causing the death of an innocent (that I know of) is not on the list.
 

The Empress Lilly

Well-Known Member
And yet, as the decades have come and gone, and sensitivities change, focus might change to seeing this as a sexist rather than as a racist crime.

Killing might be a bit much, but before law enforcement paid attention to this issue, it was other men who protected women from harassment by men. Surely a woman ought to be able to walk the street, do some shopping, without being wolfwhistled at and subsequently be put in her place. You take an underground nowadays, and a woman just has to smile and cast her eyes down in submission at the man making inappropriate comments or else. No complaints from me if people fight back now and then.
 
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LittleBuford

Well-Known Member
And yet, as the decades have come and gone, and sensitivities change, focus might change to seeing this as a sexist rather than as a racist crime.
To which crime are you referring?

Killing might be a bit much, but before law enforcement paid attention to this issue, it was other men who protected women from harassment by men.
The worst he did was whistle at her, and even that’s not certain. She has admitted to fabricating the rest of her testimony. I’d say his murder was more than than “a bit much”.
 
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The Empress Lilly

Well-Known Member
To which crime are you referring?
We all have our mental focuses of attention. Like looking at one of those optical illusions that can be either a hat or a rabbit, a young or old woman. Some focus instinctively on a racial attack, some see a wolf-whistling punk get his come uppance. Both are meaningful narratives. I do think there is currently a shift from the former to the latter. The first feels very race-obsessed 1950s. In the current wave of feminism, with the exception of the more intersectional variants, the focus would likely bemore drawn to the latter.

'A group of young men hang out near a store. A woman walks in. One of the group starts wolf whistling her to impress his friends. Gets standoffish, or much worse (stories vary and are changed over time), when she shows obvious discomfort. Later gets beaten up.'

Who would be considered the victim in 2019? The man?
 

LittleBuford

Well-Known Member
The following quotation is vile, but it comes from one of the men who murdered Till and will, I hope, put to rest the idea that what happened was a slight overreaction that had nothing to do with race:

Well, what else could we do? He was hopeless. I'm no bully; I never hurt a n___ in my life. I like n___s—in their place—I know how to work 'em. But I just decided it was time a few people got put on notice. As long as I live and can do anything about it, n___s are gonna stay in their place. N___s ain't gonna vote where I live. If they did, they'd control the government. They ain't gonna go to school with my kids. And when a n___ gets close to mentioning sex with a white woman, he's tired o' livin'. I'm likely to kill him. Me and my folks fought for this country, and we got some rights. I stood there in that shed and listened to that n___ throw that poison at me, and I just made up my mind. 'Chicago boy,' I said, 'I'm tired of 'em sending your kind down here to stir up trouble. Goddam you, I'm going to make an example of you—just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand.'​
—J. W. Milam, Look magazine, 1956​
 

thehowiet

Wilson King of Prussia
Premium Member
'A group of young men hang out near a store. A woman walks in. One of the group starts wolf whistling her to impress his friends. Gets standoffish, or much worse (stories vary and are changed over time), when she shows obvious discomfort. Later gets beaten up.'

Who would be considered the victim in 2019? The man?
He wasn't beaten up, he was savagely murdered. And regardless of the year, the murdered party is the victim in this scenario.
 

The Empress Lilly

Well-Known Member
The following quotation is vile, but it comes from one of the men who murdered Till and will, I hope, put to rest the idea that what happened was a slight overreaction that had nothing to do with race:

Well, what else could we do? He was hopeless. I'm no bully; I never hurt a n___ in my life. I like n___s—in their place—I know how to work 'em. But I just decided it was time a few people got put on notice. As long as I live and can do anything about it, n___s are gonna stay in their place. N___s ain't gonna vote where I live. If they did, they'd control the government. They ain't gonna go to school with my kids. And when a n___ gets close to mentioning sex with a white woman, he's tired o' livin'. I'm likely to kill him. Me and my folks fought for this country, and we got some rights. I stood there in that shed and listened to that n___ throw that poison at me, and I just made up my mind. 'Chicago boy,' I said, 'I'm tired of 'em sending your kind down here to stir up trouble. Goddam you, I'm going to make an example of you—just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand.'​
—J. W. Milam, Look magazine, 1956​
Of course. Meaningful narratives don't necessarily exclude one another. If there is a friction between your point of focus and mine, it is not in me invalidating yours, but you excluding mine. I can see clearly the racial motivation. Just as clearly as the big city vs small town narrative, or the closed community protecting one another in court narrative. And also the punk showing off by harassing women narrative, which feels erased from your story. I blame lingering 50s focus - once a narrative becomes dominant it is nearly impossible to topple it, as all events are being understood within this story. Combined with the prevailing mechanism that anti-racism precedes anti-sexism.
I'll grant that it is common to focus on the largest crime. If a man gropes a woman and she shoots him, the headline reads 'manslaughter'.
 

raven24

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
I no more exonerate that act than that you defend wolfwhistling women.
Till didn’t do anything. The old demon admitted to making the whole thing up.

Even if he did whistle at her, he didn’t deserve the torture that was placed upon him. They gauged out his eyes, lynched him, beat him, shot him, and did a number of other tortuous acts. That’s unjustified, he was only 14.
 

The Empress Lilly

Well-Known Member
Because, for the last time, the woman herself admitted it never happened.
Not according to my source. Bryant merely stated in an interview (53 years later) that parts of the story were not true, specifically him also grabbing her waist.
Encounter between Till and Carolyn Bryant

The remains of Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market as it appeared in 2009

Bryant's Grocery Mississippi Freedom Trail Marker, 2018
Till arrived in Money, Mississippi, on August 21, 1955. On August 24, he and cousin Curtis Jones skipped church where his great-uncle Mose Wright was preaching and joined some local boys as they went to Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market to buy candy. The teenagers were children of sharecroppers and had been picking cotton all day. The market mostly served the local sharecropper population and was owned by a white couple, 24-year-old Roy Bryant and his 21-year-old[27] wife Carolyn. Carolyn was alone in the store that day; her sister-in-law was in the rear of the store watching children. Jones left Till with the other boys while Jones played checkers across the street.

The facts of what took place in the store are still disputed. According to what Jones said at the time, the other boys reported that Till had a photograph of an integrated class at the school he attended in Chicago,[note 1] and Till bragged to the boys that the white children in the picture were his friends. He pointed to a white girl in the picture, or referred to a picture of a white girl that had come with his new wallet,[28] and said she was his girlfriend and one or more of the local boys dared Till to speak to Bryant.[27] However, writing a personal account of the incident in a book released in 2009, Till's cousin Simeon Wright, who was also present, disputed Jones' version of what happened on that day. According to Wright, Till did not have a photo of a white girl in his wallet and no one dared him to flirt with Bryant.[29] Speaking in 2015, Wright said, "We didn't dare him to go to the store – the white folk said that. They said that he had pictures of his white girlfriend. There were no pictures. They never talked to me. They never interviewed me."[30] The FBI report completed in 2006 notes "... [Curtis] Jones recanted his 1955 statements prior to his death and apologized to Mamie Till-Mobley".[31]

According to some versions, including comments from some of the kids standing outside the store,[32] Till may have wolf-whistled at Bryant. Till's cousin, Simeon Wright, who was with him at the store stated Till whistled at Bryant, saying "I think [Emmett] wanted to get a laugh out of us or something," furthering "He was always joking around, and it was hard to tell when he was serious." Wright stated that following the whistle he became immediately alarmed saying "Well, it scared us half to death," and "You know, we were almost in shock. We couldn't get out of there fast enough, because we had never heard of anything like that before. A black boy whistling at a white woman? In Mississippi? No." Wright stated "the Ku Klux Klan and night riders were part of our daily lives".[29][33] Following his disappearance, a newspaper account stated that Till sometimes whistled to alleviate his stuttering.[34] His speech was sometimes unclear; his mother said he had particular difficulty with pronouncing "b" sounds, and he may have whistled to overcome problems asking for bubble gum.[35][36][37] She said that, to help with his articulation, she taught Till how to whistle softly to himself before pronouncing his words.[36]

During the murder trial,[note 2] Bryant testified that Till grabbed her hand while she was stocking candy and said, "How about a date, baby?"[38][39] She said that after she freed herself from his grasp, the young man followed her to the cash register,[38] grabbed her waist and said, "What's the matter baby, can't you take it?"[38][note 3] Bryant said she freed herself, and Till said, "You needn't be afraid of me, baby,"[38] used "one 'unprintable' word"[38] and said "I've been with white women before."[38][40] Bryant also alleged that one of Till's companions came into the store, grabbed him by the arm, and ordered him to leave.[38] According to historian Timothy Tyson, Bryant admitted to him in a 2008 interview that her testimony during the trial that Till had made verbal and physical advances was false.[41][42][5] Bryant had testified Till grabbed her waist and uttered obscenities but later told Tyson "that part's not true".[4] As for the rest of what happened, the 72 year old stated she could not remember.[43] Bryant is quoted by Tyson as saying "Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him".[44]

Decades later, Till's cousin Simeon Wright also challenged the account given by Carolyn Bryant at the trial.[45] Wright entered the store "less than a minute" after Till was left inside alone with Bryant,[45] and he saw no inappropriate behavior and heard "no lecherous conversation."[45] Wright said Till "paid for his items and we left the store together."[45] In their 2006 investigation of the cold case, the FBI noted that a second anonymous source, who was confirmed to have been in the store at the same time as Till and his cousin, supported Wright's account.[28]

In any event, after Wright and Till left the store, Bryant went outside to retrieve a pistol from underneath the seat of a car. The teenagers saw her do this and left immediately.[40] It was acknowledged that Till whistled while Bryant was going to her car.[28] However, it is disputed whether Till whistled toward Bryant or toward a checkers game that was occurring just across the street.[28]

One of the other boys ran across the street to tell Curtis Jones what happened in the store. When the older man with whom Jones was playing checkers heard the story, he urged the boys to leave quickly, fearing violence. Bryant told others of the events at the store, and the story spread quickly. Jones and Till declined to tell his great-uncle Mose Wright, fearing they would get in trouble.[46] Till said he wanted to return home to Chicago. Carolyn's husband Roy Bryant was on an extended trip hauling shrimp to Texas and did not return home until August 27.[47] Historian Timothy Tyson said an investigation by civil rights activists concluded Carolyn Bryant did not initially tell her husband Roy Bryant about the encounter with Till, and that Roy was told by a person who hung around down at their store.[48] Roy was reportedly angry at his wife for not telling him. Carolyn Bryant told the FBI she didn't tell her husband because she feared he would beat Till up.[49]
Two other passages struck me. Her testimony was never heard by the jury, and a young woman alone goes for her a gun to protect herself during an encounter with two men:
Till was accused of flirting with or whistling at Bryant. In 1955, Bryant had testified that Till made physical and verbal advances. The jury did not hear Bryant's testimony, due to the judge ruling it inadmissible.
[...]
In any event, after Wright and Till left the store, Bryant went outside to retrieve a pistol from underneath the seat of a car. The teenagers saw her do this and left immediately.[40] It was acknowledged that Till whistled while Bryant was going to her car.
 

raven24

Well-Known Member
Original Poster
And yet, as the decades have come and gone, and sensitivities change, focus might change to seeing this as a sexist rather than as a racist crime.

Killing might be a bit much, but before law enforcement paid attention to this issue, it was other men who protected women from harassment by men. Surely a woman ought to be able to walk the street, do some shopping, without being wolfwhistled at and subsequently be put in her place. You take an underground nowadays, and a woman just has to smile and cast her eyes down in submission at the man making inappropriate comments or else. No complaints from me if people fight back now and then.
Are you justifying Till’s murder?
 

The Empress Lilly

Well-Known Member
Till didn’t do anything. The old demon admitted to making the whole thing up.

Even if he did whistle at her, he didn’t deserve the torture that was placed upon him. They gauged out his eyes, lynched him, beat him, shot him, and did a number of other tortuous acts. That’s unjustified, he was only 14.
I do tend to disagree about the first bit, see my post above.

Two wrongs don't make a right. I also do see the difference between a minor wrong and an unforgivable wrong here.
However, when reading up much of my sympathy was lost right at the outset of the story, where he does seem to show off to his friends by harassing a woman. Part of my inner evil self thinks the world would be better if harassment every now and then did end poorly, if more proportionate than this. Which is however negated by the fact that above all, yes you're right to stress this, he's a minor, and as such by definition not accountable for his actions.
 
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