33. When will my brothers start reading?

Posted: July 11, 2009 in African American, Black Pride, Culture, Race
Tags: , , , ,

The recent discovery at the Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois was yet another unfortunate circumstance during what has been a crazy three week span.  First, we lost Michael Jackson; then Steven McNair; and now we discover that four cemetery workers have been accused of digging up bodies to resell plots.

As if this atrocity wasn’t enough, we learn that the Burr Oak Cemetery is the resting place of the late Emmitt Till.  Apparently Till’s grave was not disturbed, but Cook County investigators found his original, iconic glass-topped casket rusting in a shack on the cemetery grounds. The casket was supposed to be kept for a memorial.

Who was Emmitt Till?Emmit Till

Emmett Louis “Bobo” Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African American boy from Chicago, Illinois, who was lynched at the age of 14 in Money, Mississippi, a small town in the state’s Delta region, after allegedly whistling at a white woman. The murder of Emmett Till was noted as one of the leading events that motivated the American Civil Rights Movement. The main suspects were acquitted, but later admitted to committing the crime.

Till’s mother insisted on a public funeral service, with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing: Till had been beaten up and his eye had been gouged out, before he was shot through the head and thrown into the Tallahatchie River with a 70-pound cotton gin fan tied to his body with barbed wire. His body was in the river for three days before it was discovered and retrieved by two fishermen.

With the brief history lesson behind us, the recent discovery at Burr Cemetery has literally summoned skeletons of our nation’s dark past.  Fifty-plus years doesnt’ seem like a very long time considering I’m 41 myself.   It was during my parent’s lifetime that such a travesty was allowed to be committed against a person of color.

Like Emmitt, many young black boys were snuffed out before they even got a chance to live.  This seems to be a characteristic or condition that is consistent even 54 years later.  Although lynching has somewhat subsided, many our boys live a life of “psychological” limitations.

black youthThis is noticeably evident to me as I challenge my boys and other adult men to read, write, and then read what you’ve written.  There is an old cliché that suggests, “if you want to hide something from blacks, put it in a book.”  I need to share with you that what has been hidden in those books is our illustrious history.

As I conclude this blog I challenge each reader to find a creative way of keeping our history alive.  Instead of spending countless hours on Facebook playing Mafia Wars and sending Ghetto Snacks, take a minute to send us some little known black history fact.  Social networks are powerful tools if used masterfully.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.  Hosea 4:6

D’s 2cents

Damon signature

  1. Rashad says:

    One of the more moving moments of my youth, was watching the story of Emmitt Till on Eyes on the Prize

  2. Cynda Williams says:

    Thanks Damon…I’m reading a book named, ONE DROP by Bliss Broyard…She found out, on her father’s death bed, that he was a black man passing for white. After her father’s death Bliss goes on to discover the family and genology that she was denied. It is an amazing book. She delves into her own family’s past with our country’s history fully reviewed with stark and unromantic honesty. It makes me mad to read it. It reminds me of atrocities that I’ve tried to forget…But to better our future we must know and understand our past…That’s what they say, right? I believe that to be true…So check it out…C

  3. We could start by reading to our youngsters! You would be happy to see the dramatic results of reading a few minutes a day to your children bear. I can testify.

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