BHM 2017 Day 2: Emmett ‘Till they kill me.


Change is slow, always has been, always will be. But fuck that, Ima bust back ’til they kill me. Change is slow, always has been, always will be. But fuck that, Ima bust back ’til they kill me.

Before Trayvon, Tamir, Michael, Eric and Freddie, there was Emmett.

Before The Mothers of the Movement , there was Mamie Till.

Before Black Lives Matter, there was the civil rights movement.

Emmett Till was murdered in Mississippi at the age of 14, after reportedly flirting with a white woman, Carolyn Bryant. Actually, murdered would be an understatement. It wasn’t enough for Bryant’s husband,  Roy, and his half-brother J. W. Milam to  beat Till; they chose to mutilate, shoot and drown him, to be one hundred percent sure he was dead.

Tim Tyson, a research scholar at Duke University, recently released a book called “The Blood of Emmett Till.” Over 50 years later, in 2007, he became the only historian or journalist to have ever interviewed Bryant.

During the interview, Bryant told him that what she testified at trial – where her husband was acquitted – was a lie. She said Till never made any physical sexual advances toward her, but she also could recollect what actually happened.

Till’s death was a pivotal moment in the civil right’s movement. His mother insisted on an open casket funeral to give the whole world a look at the mistreatment of African Americans in the United States. Images of Till’s body, printed in The Chicago Defender and Jet magazine, made international news and directed major attention to blacks in the rural South.


Trayvon Martin’s death was, too, a pivotal moment in America, and was what sparked a new movement, Black Lives Matter. A movement, which 5 decades post civil rights movement, was formed around the same cause – justice.

The Mother’s of the Movement want justice for their babies who did not deserve to die, just like Emmett Till. Mamie Till never received hers.

(l-r) Lucy McBath (mother of Jordan Davis), Gwen Carr (mother of Eric Garner), Geneva Reed-Veal (mother of Sandra Bland), Maria Hamilton (mother of Dontre Hamilton), Sybrina Fulton (mother of Trayvon Martin),

Although initially local newspapers and law enforcement officials criticized the violence against Till and called for justice, they later began responding to national criticism by defending Mississippians, which eventually transformed into support for the killers.

Does that sound familiar?

Fifty years later, blue lives, which are actually alternative facts, somehow, in 2017, matter more than black lives.

Change is slow, always has been, always will be. But fuck that, Ima bust back ’til they kill me. Change is slow, always has been, always will be. But fuck that, Ima bust back ’til they kill me.

Dr. King, Malcolm X, John Lewis, Stokely Carmichael, Medgar Evers and countless others knew that change was slow, but they also understood the revolution happened right inside of them. Justice came from within.  Like Cole said, the revolution starts inside of you and me.

And although Till’s mother could not get her son back, nor the justice she deserved, she understood the revolution was going to start with her.

Author: Maya J. Boddie

Daughter. Sister. Friend. Lover. Giver. Writer. Dreamer. Doer.

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