On Saturday, more than 40,000 gathered in Washington, D.C. for the Justice for All march against police violence.
Earlier in the week, a group of black mothers who lost children to police violence met to “tell their stories and advocate for changing existing laws that leave families vulnerable to police brutality and accountability loopholes.” They, too, called for Congressional hearings on police brutality and federal legislation authorizing special prosecutors to investigate police shootings.
Nearly 60 years ago, another black mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, grieved for the racially-motivated murder of her son.
Emmitt Till was murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman. The acquittal of the two white men charged with his murder shocked the conscience of the nation. The verdict paved the way for the Department of Justice to intervene in local law enforcement cases when civil rights are violated, as well as the Civil Rights Movement.
Over Thanksgiving weekend, I visited the tree that was planted in memory of Emmett Till on the U.S. Capitol Grounds. It wasn’t easy to find. No one knew the tree had been planted, let alone where it was located. So my friend and I walked the 274 acres in search of the tree. I finally stumbled upon it. You can imagine my dismay to discover it’s located in the middle of a parking lot.
Actually, when I first read the marker, I didn’t realize it was the Emmett Till tree. I thought it was for a new tree species or in honor of Sen. Susan Collins.
I had to get on my knees to read the small print:
To honor Emmett Till, a young African-American man whose brutal killing in 1955 raised public awareness that led to civil rights reforms.
Frankly, this so-called honor is more about Collins than Emmett Till. If you share my concern the marker does not do justice to his legacy, then say something via Twitter (@SenatorCollins), email or by phone at (202) 224-2523.
Perhaps by the 60th anniversary of his murder, there will be a marker befitting Emmitt Till’s place in American history.
After all, #BlackLivesMatter.