September 22, 2023

Lynching and Triumph of Persistence

By: Black Peppa

In 1955, my mother, grandmother and maternal aunt, led my cousins and I to the TV to watch the funeral of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old boy that was killed by a heartless mob in Mississippi. What was the crime? Allegedly, whistling at a white woman. My view is that the inventors of this excuse were driven by pure evil.

Emmitt’s mother switched the narrative and reframed the debate about justice, human rights and racial violence when she insisted on an open casket for the world to see the swollen and maimed face of her baby.

Emmett Tills murder in the renegade state of Mississippi was emblematic of the 3500 recorded acts of murder-lynching against its Black citizens in the United States from 1885- 1910, according to famed historian John Hope Franklin. Coupled this carnage with 10,000 instances of mob violence.

Unrelenting pressure, a series of tiny inputs by countless change agents has raised the temperature to a boiling point and the Congress could no longer stall or block a community inspired movement to fully humanize the democracy.

The United States Congress has been trying to pass anti-lynching legislation since Emmet Tills’ death but has been unable to get the job done. Rep. Bobby Rush, former Black Panther Party member authored the Emmett Till anti-lynching act that unanimously passed Congress, March 29, 2022. Congressman Al Green, 9th District, and Sheila Jackson-Lee 18th, co-sponsored this legislation. This overdue legislation   makes this type of mob violence a federal hate crime.  It is worthy to note that it passed with unanimous Democratic and Republican support. It took decades to convince many of these hidden rebels to get on the right side of history.

The passage of this ACT is an opening salvo in an intensifying struggle to rectify, redress and repair open and unconscious wounds and pain. This triumph will hopefully pry open the door to reparations for racial violence against citizens of color.

A courageous woman in Sherman Texas-Grayson County, Ms. Melissa Thiele has led a successful movement to establish a marker for the 1930 lynching of George Hughes and the unprovoked Tulsa styled destruction of the Black community. A familiar theme is present, white landowners spinning out of control when confronted about fair wages for fair labor. Yes, emblematic of racial and class struggle, workers versus bosses.

In 1909, genocidal fury erupted from the bowels of hell and 20 to 40 Black men were killed in Slocum, Texas, near Palestine, Texas. The sheriff of this red clay county told the  New York Times  that armed white men were killing Negroes as fast as they could find them. This time the sadism appears to have emerged from the murky waters of a wage- theft dispute.

We have discovered that an accused white perpetrator was to be tried in our fair county of Harris, but the process collapsed like helium escaping from a pierced birthday balloon.

Perhaps, all of us will discover ourselves in this struggle for human development. Certainly, this wrenching legislation led Rep. Green to climb near the summit.

“I am a son of the segregated South; a 74-year-old man who in his lifetime was forced to drink from ‘colored only’ water fountains, sit in the back of segregated buses, sit on the balcony of segregated movie theaters, and step off the sidewalk when others of a different hue came along. Having this bill signed into law is not only a nod to justice, but also a solemn salute to the thousands of black Americans who have been lynched since the Jim Crow era.”

Kudos to the people’s relay team that brought the baton to the finished line, for we know that it is one thing to start and another thing to finish.




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