#SayHisName: Emmett Till (OP-ED)

By Naderah Brooks

Instagram: @giftedbrown1

In the face of adversity in America, African-Americans continue to struggle with civil rights. The recent media coverage of police brutalizing black bodies is always at the center of social media frenzy. Black Lives Matter activists franchised the  #SayHerName and #SayHisName slogans to pay homage to the black communities’ fallen soldiers. Consequently, injustice and unfair treatment are not new terms in the African-American vocabulary.


In August 1955, an African-American 14-year-old boy named Emmett Till was viciously murdered by two white men named J.W.Milam and Roy Bryant. Allegedly, Carolyn Bryant, the wife of Roy Bryant, accused Till of whistling at her and flirting with her. If you were to imagine the alleged exchange, it’s harmless. Unfortunately, the idea of a black male speaking to a white woman in a flirtatious manner was seen as threatening in the old South.

As a result, his body was beaten beyond recognition and tied to a cotton gin to be disposed of in a river. The court system in the deep Mississippi Delta acquitted the two men. Bryant recently confessed that Till did not whistle at her, and she doesn’t recall if he flirted with her at all. The issue stems far beyond “he-say, she say”. It’s a matter of black lives being treated as disposable objects.


Bryant’s confession does not mean anything to the black community, because justice was not served, and it was clear that her testimony was false. The good that came from the case was the uprising of the Civil Rights Movement. Activists such as Martin Luther King, The Freedom Riders, and Rosa Parks, have made advancements to give African-Americans a voice and equal rights in America. However, Till isn’t the first and will not be the last black male whose body will be brutalized.


The days of the old South are long gone, but the scars of white superiority are still visible. If America wants to pay tribute to the Emmett Till’s of the black community, America must first acknowledge that racism still exists, be open to addressing the issue, and make a peace treaty with the black community. Until racism is addressed in an open and honest space, the issues of injustice, brutality in the black community, and the issue of civil rights will continue to plague America.

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