It’s A Myth That Emmett Till Whistled At A White Woman, Read His Mother’s Words

It is oft repeated lore that Emmett Till inappropriately whistled at a white woman. However, the excerpt from his mother’s tome, printed below, contains the seldom told history of what likely caused the “Emmett Till whistle.”

“Although it was a great relief to learn that Emmett hadn’t lost any of his motor skills, it wasn’t long before we noticed a related problem. It was devastating to us. Emmett’s bout with polio had caused some muscle damage after all. He was left with a speech defect. He sttutered. It was especially bad when he got excited or nervous. It could just take over at times in those early days. Nobody could understand him. Nobody but Mama and me. We knew what this could mean and we refused to accept it. We were very proud people, and we didn’t want anything to stand in the way of Emmett’s success. We didn’t want him held back because of people’s prejudices, because they might hear him speak and think he had limitations…

He could improve his speech by practicing, by memorizing and reciting. That would be my solution.

So that’s when the pileup began. Poor kid, I had him memorizing everything from the preamble to the Constitution to Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to poetry, everything I knew he was going to encounter. That way, when he’d come across all of this material again, he would already be ahead of everybody else. I felt so sorry for him, because my list of stuff never ran out. I mean, by the time he had learned one, I was on him with another one. And I had him doing all the gestures, all the expressions. He was good, too.

I was working him so hard, he had to take a time-out. ‘Mama, you’re gonna have to let me come up and breathe,’ he would say.

He was very pleased with himself, though. And it seemed to help. It proved to him that, once he was certain of something, he could go ahead and execute. But there was something else. I noticed that in pacing himself for the recitation, he would have to control his breathing. That’s when it occurred to me to give him a bit of advice.

‘If you find yourself stuck on a word,’ I said, ‘take a breath, whistle, and then go ahead and speak.’ He tried it, and it seemed that when he whistled, it was almost a hypnotic cue that would calm him, steady his breathing, and allow him to finish what he had started to say.” -From, “Death Of Innocence: The Story Of The Hate Crime That Changed America” By: Mamie Till-Mobley

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Book Excerpt Of The Week: “Soledad Brother” By: George Jackson

Soledad Brother“Every mass movement in history has been led by one person or a small group of people. Although everyone is born with a brain, only a few choose to use it. The difference between successful and unsuccessful mass movements is in the people who lead them. Successful ones are led by persons gifted with a delicate balance of both mental and physical forcefulness. Brains are useless without the nervous equipment and the muscle required to execute their orders.” -From, “Soledad Brother” By: George Jackson

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The 2008 not guilty verdict in the Sean Bell case evoked outrage, emotion, and debate. It is not an anomaly that the police officers involved in the Sean Bell slaying were acquitted of all charges on all counts in State Supreme Court. I could run out of ink printing the names of people who have been victimized by the inaptly named justice system.

The American justice system has been especially terroristic towards the African American community. Many community members can cite historic and personal accounts to prove this. Therefore, it would be foolhardy (at the least) to turn to a system that has methodically oppressed us, and request that they free us. We can only free ourselves through extreme discipline and intelligent planning.

As a community we have been too compliant with leaders who organize ineffective, delayed reactions. The only strategy that can save us in this last hour is one that calls for a collective code of conduct that will be conducive to improving the conditions of our community, and shifting the paradigm of how we are treated by outside entities. The first step of this code of conduct should be based on economics.

The old adage of “money talks,” still reigns true in the new millennium. Any political scientist worth his or her library card will tell you that: “Economic powerlessness equals political powerlessness,” and conversely “economic power equals political power.” This means that if we continue to allow our wealth to be extracted from our community, we will remain impotent.

The power of the collective “Black Dollar” is often discussed. However, that power has been left unchanneled. Today is the day to change that. A one-time boycott is not going to bring long-term change and respect to our community. Our community has launched boycotts before. Our success and ascension will be based on what we consistently do. For this reason, we should initiate “BUY BLACK FRIDAYS.”

BUY BLACK FRIDAYS is a small step towards our community acquiring power via controlling our economics. Every Friday, people who acknowledge the injustice and oppression that the African American community has been consistently subjected to should do one of the following:

Option #1: Spend $0 on Friday
Option #2: Spend no more than $10 on Friday
Option #3: Only Shop at Black Businesses on Friday
[PLEASE NOTE THAT THE ABOVE OPTIONS CAN & SHOULD BE EXERCISED ON A DAILY BASIS. However, we can all at the very least focus on Fridays. This way we can take a collective stand and build our collective discipline. Please remember that this is only Phase 1!].

To the people who are tempted to label “BUY BLACK FRIDAYS” as racist, I say this: In the big scheme of things, this is about right & wrong, justice & injustice. The African American community is a strong, proud community that has endured the brunt of America’s iron fist. We must stop the pounding. I feel that any fair-minded individual will concur, and join in.

ANY business that is privileged to enjoy the support of the African American community MUST return that support.

I thank you in advance for your effort and dedication.

-Elsie Law AKA Starface

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