“Emmett Louis Till, my only son, my only child, was kidnapped, tortured, and murdered at the hand of white racists on August 28, 1955. That was so many years ago, yet it seems like only yesterday to a mother who needs no reminders. After all, every shattered piece of my heart has its own special memory of Emmett.
They say there are lessons to be learned from every experience in life. It has taken practically all my life to sort out the lessons here. I couldn’t see how there might possibly be any good to come of something so evil. What could the lesson have been? How could anyone deserve this? Then there was there was the mistreatment, the indifference of those who I thought really cared, the betrayal by those I trusted, the injustice at the hands of the justice system.
It has taken all these years of quiet reflection to recognize the true meaning of my experience, and Emmett’s. It took quite a while for me to accept how his murder connected to so many things that make us what we are today. I didn’t see right away, but there was an important mission for me, to shape so many other young minds as a teacher, a messenger, an active church member. God told me, “I took away one child, but I will give you thousands.” He has. And I have been grateful for that blessing.
That’s why, for forty-seven years, I wasn’t quite ready to write this book. It took a long time for me to reach this kind of deep understanding. I have been approached, oh, so many times by people who wanted to tell my story or put words in my mouth to tell their version of my story. But I just couldn’t do that. I owe Emmett more than that. I owe him the absolute understanding I finally have come to appreciate; the deep understanding of why he lived and died and why I was destined to live so long after his death. You see my story is more than the story of a lynching. It is more a story of how, with God’s guidance, I made a commitment to rip the covers off Mississippi, USA- revealing to the world the horrible face or race hatred. It is more than the story of how I took the privacy of my own grief and turned it into a public issue, one which set in motion the dynamic force that led ultimately to a generation of social and legal progress for this country. My story is more than all of that. It is the story of how I was able to pull myself back from the brink of desolation, and turn my life around by digging deep within my soul to pull hope from despair, joy from anguish, forgiveness from anger, love from hate. I want people to know all of that and how they might gain some useful understanding for their own lives from my experience. But I also want people to know my Emmett, the way they might have known him had they met him so many years ago- as the driven, industrious, clever boy that he was at age fourteen. Forever fourteen.” -From, “Death Of Innocence: The Story Of The Hate Crime That Changed America” By: Mamie Till-Mobley
[SIDEBAR: Emmett Till would have turned 71 today.]