“A Taste of Southern Law”-Phil Ochs

Emmett Till and his mom, Mamie Till 
  Trayvon Martin

“In the state of Mississippi, Many Years Ago, a boy of 14 years got a taste of Southern law.”-Phil Ochs

Emmett Till’s birthday today in 1941 must be acknowledged, especially after the tragic death of Trayvon Martin. As a young girl and woman from the 60s on, I knew about this case, had seen his mom, Mamie Till on TV and I constantly played Too Many Martyrs that Phil Ochs had written for Medgar Evers, also killed in Mississippi. I featured that song on this blog this past June.

“In 1955 Mamie Till sent her 14-year-old son, Emmett, from Chicago to rural Mississippi to spend his summer holiday with family. As she packed him off she gave him some advice about how a black youth should conduct himself in the pre-civil rights south. “If you have to get on your knees and bow when a white person goes past,” she told him. “Do it willingly.”Gary Younge, The Guardian

In 2013, parents raising Black males, continue to advise their precious sons on how to survive because racism is still rampant and Black males are still feared. It’s very sad. It’s tragic.

“While in the small town of Money, in the delta region, he either said “Bye, baby” or wolf-whistled at a white woman in a grocery store. Three days later his body was fished out of the Tallahatchie river with a bullet in his skull, an eye gouged out and his forehead crushed on one side. An all-white jury acquitted two men after just 67 minutes’ deliberation. “If we hadn’t stopped to drink pop,” said one juror, “it wouldn’t have taken that long.” The case became a metaphor for the depths of southern bigotry and a galvanising emblem for those who sought to rectify it. It was the subject of Toni Morrison’s first play, a poem by Langston Hughes and a song by Bob Dylan. Just three months later, when Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat in Montgomery, Alabama, she said Emmett Till was on her mind.”Gary Younge, The Guardian

Yesterday, Trayvon Martin’s dad, Tracy Martin spoke before the Congressional Caucus on Black Men and Boys. “A lot of people say nothing positive can come out of death, but I disagree wholeheartedly, because what we can do tomorrow as a nation, as a people to stop someone else’s child from being killed is certainly a positive,” Martin said.”Reuters  Author, commentator, scholar, historian, Professor Michael Eric Dyson (Georgetown University) summed it up when he said, “All black people live under suspicion.”Reuters

 

 

 

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