Organization remembers life, legacy of Emmett Till

“Emmett still speaks, “ said Reverend Wheeler Parker, Emmett Till’s cousin.

“Emmett still speaks, “ said Reverend Wheeler Parker, Emmett Till’s cousin.

Friday the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation held its first annual “A Time of Reflection and Remembrance” gala at the Smart Museum of Art on the campus of the University of Chicago.

This year marks the 55th anniversary of the lynching of Till, who was only 14 years old when he was slaughtered and thrown into the Tallahatchee river in rural Mississippi after being accused of whistling at a white woman.

The event launched the “Never Again Movement,” a slogan adopted from the movement for Darfur, the Holocaust, and apartheid in South Africa, where followers are asked to pledge: “I pledge to never again allow the ugly parts of our past history to become the present. I will forever stand up against racism, hatred, injustice and crimes against our youth. I will always stand up for peace, justice and equality for all.” The foundation’s purpose is to educate and address on matters of race, violence, and hatred.  In addition to their purpose they support pursuit of higher education through scholarship. It was an intimate affair with a local jazz/R&B band, Yaw, playing as guests entered taking pictures on the red carpet.   

Speakers like Urban League Young Professionals President Barton Wright emphasized that this event should grow.  The Mistress of Ceremonies, Dara McIntosh, reminded everyone that some people still do not know the story of Till, a disturbing reality.

Shelia Ray Charles uplifted a solemn mood with gospel songs and paid tribute to her father the late Ray Charles.  Charles charmed the audience adapting her father’s persona with his trademark, sunglasses, and crooned with her velvety voice.

She glowed after her first set even when she explained why she chose to do the show.  

“I knew that it was important to support women especially women of color (because) of the things I went through,” Charles affirmed.

The remembrance didn’t end that night, but lasted all weekend with a silent march on Aug. 28 and the following day a wreath laying ceremony on the graves of Till and his mother, Mami Till Mobley.

Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender

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