Emmett Till Could Have Been Me

By Ajada Thomas

I recently had the pleasure of watching the movie “The Butler,” which was produced by Lee Daniels and telling the story of a man who was the White House butler serving eight presidents for over three decades. Although there were many points in the movie that would stand out to anyone, the part that caught my attention was when the mother, played by Oprah Winfrey, brought up the death of Emmett Till.

The mother, Gloria, stands in the kitchen and says, “You know, that woman Mamie Till walks around giving speeches now about her son. I can’t believe it’s been three years.” Later in the movie, the oldest son wants to partake in a rally being held fighting for justice for Emmett Till. Although his father says no, the son responds: “That could have been me.”

This line holds truth behind not only what was going on in 1958, but also with what is going on in the world in 2014. The fear of a young black man living in America has become so evident in everyday life. After the killings of Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown and so on, men find themselves saying, “That could have been me.” After the death of Trayvon Martin, President Obama gave a speech. In that speech he said, “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.” Earlier this summer after the death of Mike Brown, a documentary was created following around teenage boys who lived in the same area as Brown to show their reaction to his killing. A young man in the documentary said, “That could have been me that day.”

Our black boys’ fears remain, whether they are young or old, a political figure or your average teenager and black people, as a whole, still fear that there is no common justice.

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