With the film “Till” now hitting theaters across America and with the series of plays, “The Till Trilogy” now on stage at the Mosaic Theater Company of DC in Northeast, conversations have been sparked about the life and death of young Emmett Till.
However, with both the play and the film providing new ways to examine and reflect upon the teen’s horrific murder and the impact it had on his family and the nation, this moment provides a golden opportunity to educate and empower the next generation.
As many recall, white racists in Mississippi abducted, tortured and lynched 14-year-old Emmett during the summer of 1955 when the Chicago teenager, while visiting his family, made the unfortunate error of breaking with cultural mores long-established in the segregated South.
The brutality of his murder and the fact that his killers were acquitted drew attention to the long history of the violent persecution of Blacks in the U.S. But for Blacks, it was nothing new.
Generations later, parents still have “the talk” with their young boys and girls, even though they may have replaced the name “Emmett” with others, like “Trayvon.”
Members of the Jewish community continue to pass on the story of the Holocaust as a means of teaching their children about the struggles they have endured and how injustice inflicted upon any one of them must be addressed by every one of them.
We, too, must do the same. We are all Emmett Till, whether we chose to acknowledge it or not. But simply saying his name is insufficient.
Still, we’re encouraged as youth across the District, after seeing either the play, the film, or both, have expressed their determination to take up the torch in our long quest for justice and equality. In fact, some of them already have.