Okay, let’s make some comparisons based upon a statement from a well known and admired television/film personality Oprah Winfrey. Oprah stated on the Today Show, “Trayvon Martin, parallel to Emmett Till, Let me just tell you, in my mind, same thing. But you can get stuck in that and not allow yourself to move forward and to see how far we’ve come.”
Emmett Till: Was a teenager, 14 years old to be exact when he died.
Travyon Martin: Was a teenager too, 17 years old when he died.
Emmett Till was from Chicago visiting an Uncle in the South, Mississippi during Jim Crow days, the year was 1955.
Trayvon Martin, was visiting his father’s fiance’s Florida home, the year was 2012 and this is a multicultural gated community.
Emmett Till was purported to either have whistled, touched or flirted with the White Shopkeeper’s wife, Carolyn Bryant.
Trayvon Martin was walking back from a neighborhood convenience store when he was spotted and followed by a Hispanic man, the neighborhood watch coordinator, George Zimmerman.
Emmett Till was taken from his Uncle’s home, he was beaten, eyes gouged and face beaten beyond recognition, shot in the head, tied with barbed wire which was weighted down with an iron fan and tossed into the Tallahatchie River.
Trayvon Martin’s life ended after a violent encounter with George Zimmerman. George Zimmerman’s back of his head had lacerations and a bloody swollen nose which was photographed by the police. The coroner’s report showed that Trayvon Martin had scraped knuckles….
Emmett Till’s Killers was tried before an all White Jury. Bryant and Milam were found not guilty after only 67 minutes of deliberations, but their case had overwhelming evidence of them committing the murder. There were witnesses, that saw Till’s body in the back of the truck, there were those that heard someone being beaten behind shacks in some reports and knowing it was Till. One also needs to know that Bryant and Milam admitted to committing the crime. Protected by double jeopardy laws, they told the whole story of how they kidnapped and killed Emmett Till to Look magazine for $4,000 only a few months later! There is no parallel in the conclusion of the cases from Emmett Till’s case to Trayvon Martin’s case as far as I’m concerned with the outcome and the fact of bold confessions by the killers.
No one knows what happened in that time span from when Zimmerman hung up with the Sanford police and his encounter with Trayvon Martin. Martin’s friend Rachel Jeantel claims she heard Martin ask Zimmerman, “what are you following me for”. Beyond that it’s anyone’s guess or assumption to the sequence of actions that led to Zimmerman shooting Trayvon Martin.
Regarding Emmett Till’s death, and the real cause which can be definitively accounted to blatant racism supported by horrible Jim Crow laws. I cannot see any significant comparison in the true cause of the death of Trayvon Martin vs. that of Emmett Till, besides some coincidences like age, race and both were visitors. Those parallels are not the very essence as to why Emmett Till was murdered. There is not the same factor as to how and why Trayvon Martin was shot to death unless you want to stick with the profiling and disregard the fact that there were others besides Zimmerman in the community that gave accounts on seeing blacks robbing and in one case entering a home while the homeowner locked herself into a bedroom upstairs! Remember now, we don’t know what and how the deadly entanglement of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin begin, nor is there a clear witness accounting of that deadly fight.
Oprah Winfrey’s words carry a lot of weight with her fans, many are Black/African-Americans, and while those sound bites garner press. Those statements also garner immediate attention and are taken as the definitive word, the call for action and sometimes they aren’t questioned or scrutinized too closely. I make no excuses for anyone of any influence, but just for the sake of argument, perhaps Oprah meant because they were both so young, black, and from out of town, and that was all Ms. Winfrey meant to imply with her comments. Oprah did even state that “we can get stuck”…but there wasn’t any more expounding on the “stuck” except in correlation to the movie’s butler. So now the Trayvon Martin death is a civil rights cause. Sure they can call it what they want, that is the beauty of America, but exactly what civil rights violation? The right to self defense? The right to stand your ground? The right to confront, question, and from there no one really knows? The right to not be profiled if Black/African-American? The fact that they didn’t like the verdict? What about the fact that it has been proven that self defense cases in the state of Florida has been found in the favor of Black Defendants 55 percent of the time with 1/3 of fatal cases involving Blacks?
What exactly is their premises for this civil rights movement? Racial profiling? A community whose demographic’s were at the time of the shooting: 49% non-Hispanic white, 23% Hispanic (of any race), 20% black, and 5% Asian, according to census numbers. I also will mention that many times George Zimmerman had aided those that are African American, but that was not of concern to those that are on this driven mission to constantly stir up civil unrest and not civil rights. No one wanted to hear about Zimmerman’s 2010 aid to a homeless black man by the name of Sherman Ware. Aid that had him going to the local NAACP at the time to ask for assistance, aid which when no one else was incensed that the White man, Jason Collision hadn’t been arrested for assaulting Mr. Ware he continued to rail at authorities and is recorded as saying, ” The law is written in black and white, It should not and cannot be enforced in the gray for those … in the thin blue line.”~George Zimmerman. Zimmerman’s own neighbor, a black woman that asked for anonymity as reported by Chris Francescani in Reuters stated:
“Let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I’m black, OK?” the woman said, declining to be identified because she anticipated backlash due to her race. She leaned in to look a reporter directly in the eyes. “There were black boys robbing houses in this neighborhood,” she said. “That’s why George was suspicious of Trayvon Martin.”
I didn’t write this to rehash or defend George Zimmerman’s character. I wrote this in response of Oprah Winfrey’s comment to the Grio. A comment among an interview regarding the Movie The Butler. I wish someone of Oprah Winfrey’s stature would for once expound on how to elevate and heal broken dynamics of many inner-city Black families in America. I wish they would press for real solutions to crimes committed against the Black communities starting with gangs. The root causes for so many Blacks to wound, rob, and murder their own and why the crime statistic reflect that more blacks are committing crimes of violence against other races.
There is a race relations problem in America, that I won’t deny that, but I also don’t see any due concern with those that can make or break Presidential candidates. Those that state they preach to and in the community doing anything that is directly targeted towards bridging and eradicating real racial problems, I see them fanning the flames on a smoldering, smoking and well stocked fire pyre with and by their actions and words. Yes Oprah, we have come so far and yet have stayed so far behind especially when one uses history to run wide parallels to create a tailored justice.