It is a sad and disgusting reality of American life that young men of color are often falsely accused of crimes simply due to their skin color. While this may appear to be a new phenomenon, it is an old and heartbreaking reality that Americans of color have been dealing with for many generations.
Emmett Till is not the first, nor has been the last young man of color to be targeted because of his skin color.
The new book, Let the People See: The Story of Emmett Till, by Elliott J. Gorn, tells the story of young Mr. Till’s brief life, the accusations that led to his murder and the societal tinderbox that his murder created. In the summer of 1955, Emmett Till was 14 years old. Born and raised in Chicago, he was spending summer vacation with his family in Mississippi. He was killed by two white men who believed that he had whistled at one of the men’s wives. The murder led to a trial that helped to spark the Civil Rights Movement. In addition to reviewing the information that was available to law enforcement over sixty years ago, the author also examines evidence that only came to the surface in 2005. Combining both new information and old, the question is, what can we, as modern Americans learn from our predecessors mistakes so that there are no more Emmett Tills in the future?
Reading this book made me angry and sad at the same time. It made me angry because a young life was taken for no reason other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It made me sad because this same sh*t is still happening 63 years later. Written with intense details and very readable, this book I believe is a must read for all Americans. If we are to live in the just and free society that we claim to have, must face our demons and be willing to look our collective past in the face. This includes the murder of Emmett Till.
I absolutely recommend it.