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The Living Legacy of Emmett Till's Casket


The Living Legacy of Emmett Till's Casket

Rebekah Barber

A casket is an unusual item to display in a museum. Most people visit museums not to dwell on death but to learn about what people did while alive. But there are times when a person's death itself leaves an impact on history. Such is the case of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old from Chicago who was tortured and murdered by white supremacists in Mississippi on Aug. 28, 1955.


Another testament to why the current dog-whistle political machinations are so very dangerous. The "again" meme implies regression--not progression. It needs to be expunged from our politics at every turn. How many "brave" white supremacists did it take to subdue fourteen-year old Emmett Till?


This is still going on today, and it seems almost every day there is another Emmett Till being murdered by police somewhere in America.


The problem of violence is that those most willing to use it do so to entrap, exploit, and enslave others.

That defines much of the history of the world since the onset of Patriarchy and its armed martial means through which to exert ITS will.

Once again, I object to the all-encompassing term WE in its loose application to all persons, all souls:

"What this museum is going to do is make sure that America remembers that, at one point — and unfortunately some of that still goes on — we killed our children," said Kinshasha Holman Conwill, the museum's deputy director."

For one thing, would the WE representative of the Black community be part of the over-arching "We" that slaughtered its own?

Much that is done in the name of all--or the dominant group identified with it--represents the actions of Armed Dominators.

The problem for mankind, and it's largely universal, is tossing off this yoke.

And just like the overweight person who binges before starting a committed diet program, humanity may be binging on war/violence/aggression as PRELUDE to a global change of (mental/ideological) "diet."

I believe this juncture--in terms of a quantum leap in mass consciousness--has arrived... for 2 primary reasons.

First, the Internet makes what's happening universally seen and acknowledged.

Second, it should be pretty obvious that police shooting people does not make communities safer, and that those who identify WITH arms (and uniforms) generally use them against others... typically those who are weaker or less armed.

This syndrome (and it IS a syndrome) is as common in America's cities as it is on huge swathes of the Middle East and into parts of Asia.

The argument that ATTACKS promote PEACE or security or protection is not only bogus, it is lethal.

And one way to understand the dynamic is to stop identifying with those DOING the violence. They are not us or we or me.

Some people--usually white racist males--do the shooting and the killing and the dominating.

When the term WE is used, it suggests that this behavior is universal and that it belongs to us all. Such a blanket "analysis" leaves out alternatives to this behavior and therefore renders what's ALSO true about large groups of people irrelevant and invisible.

That's exactly what the mass media and other normative cognitive instruments do. It takes the voice of the dominant white male and actions that HE takes and unnaturally attributes them to each and all.

These behaviors are not universal. They belong chiefly to specific persons and more generally to a number of demographics.

The insistence that brutality & vile prejudice belong to us all is like a mantra repeated often, and it's one of the reasons why humanity has not yet been able to TOSS this behavior onto history's junk heap.

People hear no ALTERNATIVE narrative to who and what they are. ONLY the tale of the warriors/dominators are told, heard, spoken, validated, and uttered...

It's the language of Mars, another example of the adage: "To the victors go both the spoils (of war) and control of the narrative"

WE are much more than what is natural to Mars.

The angry jealous male god is NOT the only Divine Archetype that human flesh (and behavior) is drawn from.

It's time for other voices (and archetypes from the Circle of Origin) to speak THEIR narratives.

That way, detoxing from the habits customary to Mars (or identifying oneself with HIS cause) can begin!


I understand your perspective, but also propose that in essence there is a legitimate, all inclusive "we" of the condition of the human race. If I regard myself as a person inextricably interfaced with Nature/the Creation in all his/her glory, and premise that on all other human beings sharing this condition of a living organism, then the killing of ourselves, in all its forms, is something best addressed as a whole 'we'. An additional aspect of the integrity of this 'we' is the strength of inclusion by which our collective integrity can address the killing of ourselves as an aberration of what it means to be a human being and work toward remedying the aberration.


Dr. Anthony Monteiro presented this moving reflection upon Emmett Till:


To the point, this from Dr Martin Luther King:
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." ---Dr Martin Luther King. Letter from the Birmingham Jail

It was to the recognition and acceptance of the universality of life that Dr King appealed---the 'inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.' We are asked if it is possible to acknowledge self in the other, a foundational mystic concept we choose to either accept or reject. With acceptance follows a certain moral logic, hence responsibility to act...