Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. Till was from Chicago, Illinois visiting his relatives in the Mississippi Delta region when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married proprietor of a small grocery store. Several nights later, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam arrived at Till’s great-uncle’s house where they took Till, transported him to a barn, beat him and gouged out one of his eyes, before shooting him through the head and disposing of his body in the Tallahatchie River, weighting it with a 70-pound (32 kg) cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was discovered and retrieved from the river three days later.
When a young boy from Chicago walked through a Southern door.
This boy’s fateful tragedy you should all remember well,
The color of his skin was black and his name was Emmett Till.
They said they had a reason, but I disremember what.
They tortured him and did some things too evil to repeat.
There was screaming sounds inside the barn, there was
laughing sounds out on the street.
And they threw him in the waters wide to cease his screaming pain. The reason that they killed him there, and I’m sure it
was no lie,
Was just for the fun of killin’ him and to watch him slowly die.
(’cause he was born a black skinned boy, he was born to die)
And then to stop the United States of yelling for a trial,
Two brothers they confessed that they had killed poor
But on the jury there were men who helped the brothers
commit this awful crime,
And so this trial was a mockery, but nobody seemed to mind.
The smiling brothers walkin’ down the courthouse stairs.
For the jury found them innocent and the brothers they went free,
While Emmett’s body floats the foam of a Jim Crow southern sea.
that’s so unjust,
Your eyes are filled with dead men’s dirt, your mind is
filled with dust.
Your arms and legs they must be in shackles and chains, and
your blood it must refuse to flow,
For you let this human race fall down so God-awful low!
That this kind of thing still lives today in that
ghost-robed Ku Klux Klan.
But if all us folks that thinks alike, if we gave all we
could give, We could make this great land of ours a greater place to live.
“The Death of Emmett Till”, also known as “The Ballad of Emmett Till”, is a song by American musician Bob Dylan about the murder of Emmett Till, which occurred on August 28, 1955. Till, a 14-year-old African American, was killed on August 28, 1955 by two white men.
Residents in the Sanford, FL community are angry after a 17-year-old black high school junior was shot and killed by a latino neighborhood-watch captain more than two weeks ago.
On February 26th, Trayvon Martin was walking home from 7-Eleven when he was met by George Zimmerman, 28, the neighborhood watch captain. They ended up getting into a confrontation; ultimately leading to Trayvon’s death.
STORY: HE HAS A NAME: Trayvon Martin, Shot & Killed By His Own Neighborhood Watch
Zimmerman called police before the shooting, saying there was “someone suspicious” afoot, but the police told him not to engage.
STORY: Oh No! Man Who Shot & Killed Trayvon Martin Walks Free
Zimmerman told police that the incident was in self-defense.
The growing sentiment felt by Sanford residents is that not only did the police free Zimmerman, but their slow footed treatment of the investigation shows that they don’t care. Zimmerman is Latino and the teen was black.
The town of Sanford is known for its racist past, it was founded by laborers in the late 19th century, and Goldsboro, once an active center of black life, became the second town in Florida incorporated by blacks.
But in 1911, Sanford stripped Goldsboro of its charter and took it over. The streets, named after its black pioneers, were immediately renamed.
Ulysees Cunningham, an 80-year-old retired contractor, has lived in Sanford for most of his life and remembers the days of segregation very well.
The Sanford police also has a checkered past. Scandals involving former police chiefs, along with shootings of other black victims have garnered questions about how the Sanford police conduct their investigations.
The town of Sanford and its police department are in the national spotlight with the shooting death of Trayvon, so it’s important to know why the town is the way it is.
For instance, Sanford has a per capita income of ,000 a year, and barely a third of its 54,000 residents are black, according to 2010 U.S. census data.
White People, You Will Never Look Suspicious! by Michael Skolnik
I will never look suspicious to you. Even if I have a black hoodie, a pair of jeans and white sneakers on…..in fact, that is what I wore yesterday…..I still will never look suspicious. No matter how much the hoodie covers my face or how baggie my jeans are, I will never look out of place to you. I will never watch a taxi cab pass me by to pick someone else up. I will never witness someone clutch their purse tightly against their body as they walk by me. I won’t have to worry about a police car following me for two miles, so they can “run my plates.” I will never have to pay before I eat. And I certainly will never get “stopped and frisked.” I will never look suspicious to you, because of one thing and one thing only. The color of my skin. I am white.
I was born white. It was the card I was dealt. No choice in the matter. Just the card handed out by the dealer. I have lived my whole life privileged. Privileged to be born without a glass ceiling. Privileged to grow up in the richest country in the world.
Privileged to never look suspicious. I have no guilt for the color of my skin or the privilege that I have. Remember, it was just the next card that came out of the deck. But, I have choices. I got choices on how I play the hand I was dealt. I got a lot of options. The ball is in my court.
So, today I decided to hit the ball. Making a choice. A choice to stand up for Trayvon Martin. 17 years old. black. innocent. murdered with a bag of skittles and a bottle of ice tea in his hands. “Suspicious.” that is what the guy who killed him said he looked like cause he had on a black hoodie, a pair of jeans and white
sneakers. But, remember I had on that same outfit yesterday. And yes my Air Force Ones were “brand-new” clean. After all, I was raised in hip-hop…part of our dress code. I digress. Back to Trayvon and the gated community in Sanford, Florida, where he was visiting his father.
I got a lot of emails about Trayvon. I have read a lot of articles. I have seen a lot of television segments. The message is consistent. Most of the commentators, writers, op-ed pages agree. Something went wrong. Trayvon was murdered. Racially profiled. Race. America’s elephant that never seems to leave the room. But, the
part that doesn’t sit well with me is that all of the messengers of this message are all black too. I mean, it was only two weeks ago when almost every white person I knew was tweeting about stopping a brutal African warlord from killing more innocent children. And they even took thirty minutes out of their busy schedules to watch a movie about dude. They bought t-shirts. Some bracelets. Even tweeted at Rihanna to take a stance.
But, a 17 year old American kid is followed and then ultimately killed by a neighborhood vigilante who happens to be carrying a semi-automatic weapon and my white friends are quiet. Eerily quiet. Not even a trending topic for the young man.
We’ve heard the 911 calls. We seen the 13 year old witness. We’ve read the letter from the alleged killer’s father. We listened to the anger of the family’s attorney. We’ve felt the pain of Trayvon’s mother. For heaven’s sake, for 24 hours he was a deceased John Doe at the hospital because even the police couldn’t believe that maybe he LIVES in the community. There are still some facts to figure out. There are still some questions to be answered. But, let’s be clear. Let’s be very, very clear. Before the neighborhood watch captain, George Zimmerman, started following him against the better judgement of the 911 dispatcher. Before any altercation. Before any self-defense claim. Before Travyon’s cries for help were heard on the 911 tapes. Before the bullet hit him dead in the chest. Before all of this. He was suspicious. He was suspicious. suspicious. And you know, like I know, it wasn’t because of the hoodie or the jeans or the sneakers. Cause I had on that same outfit yesterday and no one called 911 saying I was just wandering around their neighborhood. It was because of one thing and one thing only. Trayvon is black.
So I’ve made the choice today to tell my white friends that the rights I take for granted are only valid if I fight to give those same rights to others. The taxi cab. The purse. The meal. The police car. The police. These are all things I’ve taken for granted.
So, I fight for Trayvon Martin. I fight for Amadou Diallo. I fight for Rodney King. I fight for every young black man who looks “suspicious” to someone who thinks they have the right to take away their freedom to walk through their own neighborhood. I fight against my own stereotypes and my own suspicions. I fight for people whose ancestors built this country, literally, and who are still treated like second class citizens. Being quiet is not an option, for we have been too quiet for too long.
Michael Skolnik is the Editor-In-Chief of GlobalGrind.com and the political director to Russell Simmons. Prior to this, Michael was an award-winning filmmaker. Follow him on twitter @MichaelSkolnik
Police Chief Bill Lee who was Under Fire With ‘No Confidence’ Vote has announced that he will step aside as of 3:45 PM east Coast time. (March 22, 2012)
Trayvon Martin’s parents to meet with Justice officials.
Justice Department officials plan to meet Thursday with the parents of teenager Trayvon Martin, who was unarmed when he was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer in an Orlando suburb last month.
The federal agency has launched a civil rights investigation into the case that has riveted the nation. Martin’s family believes race was a factor in the black teenager’s death.
The meeting comes after Martin’s parents joined demonstrators in New York on Wednesday evening in a rally calling for justice. Another rally, led by the Rev. Al Sharpton, is planned for Thursday night at a church in Sanford, a racially mixed city of about 50,000 people just north of Orlando.
Martin was shot February 26 while walking to the house of his father’s fiancee after a trip to a convenience store. George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch leader, said he shot the 17-year-old in self-defense.
Zimmerman has not been arrested. A police report calls him a white male; his family says that he is Hispanic and that he has wrongly been described as a racist.
The uproar over Martin’s death has reverberated nationwide with demands for Zimmerman’s arrest and scrutiny of police actions.
Nearly 1 million people have signed a petition on Change.org urging prosecution for Zimmerman. Thursday morning, the petition was getting 1,000 signatures per minute, said Noland Chambliss, communications manager for Change.org.
Numerous attempts to contact George Zimmerman have been unsuccessful and the Sanford Police do not know his where abouts. It is more than clear the police blew this case. The question is why were they so lax. Was Zimmerman an informer working with the police? Did he cut the deal during a previous arrest? Has Zimmerman been granted immunity from prosecution?
A Seminole County grand jury will convene on the matter April 10, according to State Attorney Norm Wolfinger. The Sanford Town Officials could not walk this any slower. Sanford is complety empty when it comes to leadership.
Meanwhile, pressure mounted on Sanford police Chief Bill Lee after the city commission voted 3-2 Wednesday night in favorof a nonbinding measure of no confidence. It was not immediately clear what impact, if any, that would have.
City Manager Norton Bonaparte said Thursday that he would like an independent review of police action in the wake of the shooting.
The City Manager is waiting for someone else to make a decision.
NAACP President Ben Jealous, however, was more forthright. Parents, he said, don’t feel that their children will be safe with Lee heading the police department.
“He needs to go right now,” Jealous said.
Demonstrators crowded New York’s Union Square on Wednesday night for the protest attended by Martin’s parents. Many wore hoodies, the type of clothing Martin was wearing when he was shot, and carried Skittles, the candy he purchased from the convenience store the night he was killed.
“George Zimmerman took Trayvon’s life for nothing,” the teenager’s father, Tracy Martin, said at the rally.
“Our son did not deserve to die. There’s nothing that we can say that will bring him back, but I’m here today to assure that justice is served and that no other parents have to go through this again.”
“Our son is your son,” said Martin’s mother, Sybrina Fulton. ”This is not about a black-and-white thing. This is about a right-and-wrong thing. Justice for Trayvon!”
Earlier, she described her situation as a nightmare.
“It’s hard to sleep,” she said. “Everything reminds me of him, and the only thing that’s fueling us to keep pressing on for justice is the fact that we know that justice will be served.”
Zimmerman, who was patrolling the neighborhood, saw Martin walking home after buying a drink and the Skittles. He called 911 and reported what he described as a suspicious person. Moments later, several neighbors called the emergency number to report a commotion outside.
The 911 tapes, released by police, revealed that while some neighbors were on the phone with emergency dispatchers, cries for help followed by a gunshot sounded in the background.
NAACP President: No faith in this chief
“The time that we heard the whining and then the gunshot, we did not hear any wrestling, no punching, no fighting, nothing to make it sound like there was a fight,” said Mary Cutcher, one of the callers.
Cutcher said Zimmerman was confused after the shooting.
“He’d pace and go back to the body and just like — I don’t know if he was kind of, ‘Oh, my God, what did I do? What happened?’ ” she said.
Another caller, Selma Mora Lamilla, said she did not hear any altercation, but the teen cried and “whimpered” before the shooting.
She described Zimmerman as “straddling” the teen after the shooting, saying he was “on his knees on top of a body.”
Martin’s girlfriend was on the phone with him during the incident and can help prove he was killed “in cold blood,” said Benjamin Crump, the Martin family’s attorney.
The girl connects the dots and “completely blows Zimmerman’s absurd self-defense claim out of the water,” Crump said.
Shortly before he was shot, the teen told his girlfriend that someone was following him and he was trying to get away, according to the lawyer. The girl, who did not want to be identified, said that during the call, she heard Martin ask why the person was following him.
She got the impression there was an altercation in which his cell phone earpiece fell out after he was pushed, and the connection went dead, Crump said. She did not hear gunfire, he said.
Zimmerman attended a four-month program in 2008 at the sheriff’s office that teaches citizens about law enforcement, said Kim Cannaday, spokeswoman for the Seminole County sheriff’s office.
In his application for the course, Zimmerman wrote: “I hold law enforcement officers in the highest regard and I hope to one day become one.”
Zimmerman’s father, Robert, told a Florida newspaper that the 28-year-old had moved from the area after receiving death threats.
He was a student at Seminole State College, but the college said Thursday that it “taken the unusual but necessary step this week to withdraw” Zimmerman from enrollment. It cited the high-profile nature of the controversy and said the decision was based on concern for safety for Zimmerman and the students on campus.
Zimmerman’s family has denied that race played a role, saying he has many minority relatives and friends.
“The portrayal of George Zimmerman in the media, as well as the series of events that led to the tragic shooting, are false and extremely misleading. Unfortunately, some individuals and organizations have used this tragedy to further their own causes and agendas,” his father said in a letter published in the Orlando
“George is a Spanish-speaking minority with many black family members and friends,” Robert Zimmerman wrote. “He
would be the last to discriminate for any reason whatsoever.”
Heated debate has erupted over whether Zimmerman used a racial slur during the 911 call, a recording of which was released this week.
“We didn’t hear it. However, I am not sure what was said,” Sgt. David Morgenstern of the Sanford Police Department said.
“I have listened to the tapes, and I have not heard them use a racial slur,” concurred City Manager Bonaparte.
A top CNN audio engineer enhanced the sound of the 911 call, and several members of CNN’s editorial staff repeatedly reviewed the tape but could reach no consensus on whether Zimmerman used a racial slur.
Give the tapes to the FBI. They are experts in the thing you are trying (perhaps for the first time) to do. The Sanford Police seem to inept to conduct a proper investigation yet they are attempting to analyze a recording.
Whether Zimmerman used such language prior to shooting Martin is key, according to CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
“It’s extremely, extremely significant because the federal government is not allowed to prosecute just your ordinary, everyday murder,” he said. “Two people fighting on the street is not a federal crime. However, if one person shoots another based on racial hostility, racial animus, that does become a federal crime.”
Toobin said that if “very shortly before” the shooting, “Zimmerman used this racial epithet to refer to the person he openly shot, that very much puts it within the FBI’s and the Justice Department’s ambit of a case that they could prosecute.”
Police say they have not charged Zimmerman because they have no evidence to contradict his story that he shot in self-defense.
The shooting has renewed a debate over a controversial state law and sparked calls for a review.
Florida’s deadly force law, also called “stand your ground,” allows people to meet “force with force” if they believe that there is danger of serious harm to themselves or someone else.
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