Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Reflection: Forever Emmett

Everyday, I have a moment of remembering Emmett Till, the young man murdered in Mississippi almost sixty years ago, for offending white men because he paid too much attention to their woman.  Now, the Emmett Tills of today are offending white men by walking in their communities, playing music, and wearing hoodies.
This insanity will not stop because racism will never see its own death.
My aunt wrote a poem re-telling what happened to Emmett Till.  All one have to do is substitute Emmett's name with Sean, Trayvon, Jordan,  and now Tamir, to tell the same story.

Emmett:  He was just a child
As I sat and listened
To the tragic killing
Of Emmett Till…
The story was so horrible
It gave me a chill.
I remembered when it happened…
 It was 1955…
Hatred became alive.
As I listened to his mother
Tell the story:
He was her crown
And glory.
When she sent him off…
By car…
Or train…
Little did she know…
She would never see him again…
Death was waiting for him
When he went into town…
His young blood would be spilled
On Mississippi ground.
He went into the store…
And didn’t mean no harm.
He was used to making people laugh
With his humor and charm.
He didn’t know a white woman
He could not touch or look.
He didn’t know the Nigger
And White rulebook.

 A few words whispered
Was all it took.
(When you put the word
hate and Nigger together
prejudice will manifest. 
Your mind will go into action.
Your hand and feet
Will do the rest)
 They didn’t kill him right away.
They waited a while.
A black man pleaded to the white men
And said, “He’s just a child.”
The white men threatened the black man
And said, “Keep your mouth shut if you
Wanna live to be sixty-four.”
 As they dragged his body out the door…
They made the black man clean up
Their bloody mess.
(Another way of inflicting pain
On our people I guess)
 They bound his body
And threw it in the river
So it wouldn’t be seen.
How can someone be so mean?
How can one human have so much
Hate for his brother?
God didn’t plan it that way…
He wanted us to love one another.
The bell of injustice rang out
That day.
Blacks could only shake
Their heads
And sadly walk away.
While some mothers
Frantically paced…
Other mothers wept…
I wonder how that
White woman slept?
When he was found…
His mother could only recognize him
By his ring.
For comfort…
The only song she could sing was:
Precious Lord Take My Hand, Lead Me on Let Me Stand.
That child might have grown up
To be a great man.
They robbed him of his youth.
Didn’t allow his mind to develop
And his body to grow.
This world is full of so much hate and strife…
No man has the right to take
Another man’s life.
And the white woman could have dismissed
The whistle and look…
She had the power to destroy the
Nigger and White rulebook.
Do we forgive those men for committing
That horrible crime?
Those men sat and laughed…
And they served no time.
Punishment will be paid for that crime.
Because in Hell,
There is no Nigger and
White rulebook to sell.
Always remember Emmett Till
For he was just a child.
-Mary Overstreet 


  1. Beautiful and yet tragic. Just what the soul needs sometimes. A dose of actual reality to take us away from the false sense of change that we deal with so very regularly in this system of racism and supremacy. Thank you.


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Sandra Proto debut poem at the age of twelve was entitled, The Late Great April, giving homage to the first time it snowed in April. She wrote Late Great April as an English class assignment and her teacher was so impressed by the poem that he tried to get it published. After this experience, Sandra became a "Bedroom Poet" who composed Blackberry Beauty,Light, Compositions, and many others. Blackberry Beauty (her signature poem) was featured in SaSi's Production of Identity @ Space at 24 in 2000. Sandra has performed with the funky, folky, reggae rock band Hudson’s Hope. Her poetry is featured on VAMPIRE LESBIANS and ALL I CAN SEE IS HER EYES tracks of their demo CD. Sandra is also, a fiction writer, playwright, and an essayist.

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