I am writing to you on what would be your 74th Birthday. As I write these words to you on your Earthstrong, I can only wonder how you would have contributed to the world if you had lived.
Would you be Dr. Till?
Would you be Counselor Till?
Would you be Professor Till or Teacher Till?
Emmett Till, MSW (Master of Social Work)?
Perhaps even United Nations Secretary General Till?
I wonder where you would be and the extraordinary things you may have accomplished.....if you had lived.
I have read about your life and your story. Even though I was only a star in the sky during your lifetime, your life and death has affected me very deeply. It is so interesting that I (and many others) who were not even born during that time can feel the emotion and pain of your story. I feel it.
I am also so proud and in awe of your mom Mamie Till, who demanded to show the world the ugly and barbaric monster that is racism and bigotry in the United States when she made the heroic decision to have an open casket funeral for you. I have seen the horrifying photos.
Let me say this again. I have seen the horrifying photos.
They are graphic and they expose the truth about lynchings in the American South. God Bless your mom for taking the most courageous step forward to show the world how dangerous it was then...and even now to be black in America.
Since you have been gone, so much has happened in America. We have taken so many steps forward, and many steps back.
Globalization has allowed people of African descent worldwide to be connected to the world in ways never seen before. The United States elected its first black President in the history of our nation. President Barack Obama has had many historic moments during his presidency, including a visit to a federal prison; the first for a sitting United States President.
Black men and women are attending college, serving in the military, and creating legacies as CEOs, Generals, Professors, humanitarians, and members of Congress.
Black people are world travelers. I know this for sure because I am a world traveler and I belong to a dynamic group called the Nomadness Travel Tribe, a group of more than 10,000 people of different cultures that have traveled to most countries in the world. We share stories of our travels and we also network among each other. The best part about being a member of this wonderful group is the ability to connect with like-minded people about the beauty of travel. You will be proud to know that this amazing global community was created by a young black woman and her name is Evita Robinson.
On the other hand, there have been several instances recently that have caused pain in communities across the country and have deepened the distrust of police within many black communities. Most recent examples are the cases of Freddy Grey, Sandra Bland, and Mike Brown.
It is truly a sad situation because these tragic cases of police encounters often overshadow the hard working, dedicated officers that have lived, worked, and sometimes died trying to protect the lives of others. My wonderful, hardworking uncle, Detroit Police Officer Brian E. Huff, is one officer that worked hard as an officer in Detroit and died in the line of duty.
However, even in the midst of these tragedies, including the death of Trayvon Martin, Americans have become even more aware and more determined in demanding respect for civil rights and human rights here at home. Last August, the parents of Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Jordan Davis traveled to Geneva, Switzerland to speak before the United Nations about the loss of their children to violence. Also, organizations like Black Women's Blueprint have been created to advocate on behalf of women of color.
Of course I could not write about violence committed against black Americans without talking about violence committed among black Americans. Sometimes I feel like we are in a state of emergency in many major cities in America. Over the July 4th holiday weekend in Chicago, 10 people were killed and 55 people were wounded. In Detroit in June 2015, a man fleeing police recklessly drove through a neighborhood in Detroit and killed two children playing in front of their own home. There were also three other children wounded and the families are absolutely devastated.
In addition, African American women experience higher rates of intimate partner violence than our white counterparts. How do we address this issue of health and safety for black women?
I know issues such as access to higher standards of education, health care and jobs have an impact on the health and well being of black communities in the United States. However I am hopeful that we can continue to come together to heal one another and to help one another reduce the crime within our communities.
The good news is that we have many movements like the Detroit 300 Community Patrol, a movement of local citizens, organizations, and concerned businesses that are working together to fight crime in Detroit.
People care, and are continuing to move toward greatness.
We're getting there.
I was once a star in the sky during your life, and now you are the star in the sky during my life. Though we were children in different generations, you and I are not very different from each other. You have influenced my life and worldview in ways you will never know.
Continue to shine your light from the sky Brother Emmett because the world has not forgotten you and the impact of your life and your story. Cheers to you on your 74th Birthday and may your legacy continue to live on and inspire future generations.
Peace & Blessings,