The Left’s Insulting Exploitation of Emmett Till

It has never been more dangerous to be a black boy from Chicago than it is today. As of June 2023, 172 young people under 18 have been shot in Chicago just this year, 29 of them fatally. Roughly 80% of those shot have been black, roughly 85% male. Five of those killed were 12 and under.

Seeing no political advantage in addressing today’s crime, President Joe Biden last week chose to exploit the Mississippi murder of a Chicago boy 68 years ago. On Tuesday, Biden signed a bill creating a series of three national monuments in Illinois and Mississippi honoring Emmett Till, the 14-year-old murder victim, and his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, an outspoken advocate for her son.

Said Biden in a shamefully dishonest effort to secure the black vote, “At a time when there are those who seek to ban books, bury history, we’re making it clear – crystal, crystal clear: While darkness and denialism can hide much, they erase nothing.”

The signing capped a weeklong orgy of race-baiting whose lowlights included a savage denunciation of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. by Democrats on the House weaponization subcommittee and an unhinged assault on Gov. Ron DeSantis and the state of Florida by Vice President Kamala Harris.

What prompted Till’s appalling 1955 murder in Mississippi remains in dispute. In an unpublished memoir, Carolyn Bryant, white and then 21, claimed that Till “came in our store and put his hands on me with no provocation.” Alone in the store at the time, Bryant was sufficiently upset to tell her husband, who, in concert with his half-brother, admittedly killed Till. Wrote Carolyn, “Do I think [Till] should have been killed for doing that? Absolutely, unequivocally, no!”

Till’s murder and the acquittal of his killers were anomalous even for Mississippi in 1955. The story made national news and has lingered in the black consciousness ever since. Paradoxically, the election of Barack Obama gave the story fresh currency.

In my new book, Untenable: The True Story of White Ethnic Flight from America’s Cities, I explain the dilemma the end of institutional white racism posed for the nation’s self-appointed civil rights leaders. To justify their existence, they had to deny the racial progress that had been made in post-war America. Obama’s election in 2008 made honest denial all but impossible.

The 2012 shooting death of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Florida gave the more unscrupulous progressive leaders, black and otherwise, a seeming opportunity to revive the mantra, “Nothing has changed.” No emerging black leader proved more unscrupulous than Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump.

With the assistance of a white PR hack and an obliging mainstream media, Crump transformed the deeply troubled six-footer into an innocent little boy. The real Martin was serving his third suspension that school year, the previous ones for fighting and for possession of burglary tools along with stolen jewelry.

Martin might have turned his life around had not his father, Tracy Martin, abandoned his second wife, Alicia Stanley, when Martin was 15. Stanley was the woman who raised him. Shuffling among his relatives, evicted by his biological mother, Martin represented another 1960s phenomenon that progressives have chosen to deny, the subsidized fracturing of the black family and the subsequent collapse of inner cities across America.

Exiled to the townhouse of his father’s latest girlfriend in Sanford, Florida, anxious about his own girlfriend clubbing back in Miami, Martin was ready to explode. On the fateful night of Feb. 26, 2012, he did just that.

On a drug run to a nearby 7-11, Martin bought the ingredients necessary to make “purple lean”– a cheap, ghetto high – watermelon cooler and Skittles. All that was missing was the codeine, and he could get that from a bottle of Robitussin AC.

Returning to the townhouse, Martin lingered in the rain, smoking weed and quite possibly casing the other units in this decaying subdivision. Neighborhood watch captain George Zimmerman saw Martin lurking in the shadows and called the non-emergency police line as instructed.

When Martin took off running, Zimmerman exited the car to better track him. He said “OK” to the dispatcher’s request to abandon pursuit and went looking for a street number to facilitate a rendezvous with the police.

After being gone for four minutes, Martin circled back and ambushed the unsuspecting Zimmerman, a Hispanic 28-year-old nearly half a foot shorter. The only serious eyewitness told the police that he saw “one guy on top in the black hoodie … pretty much just throwing down blows on the guy kind of MMA-style.”

The witness asked Martin to stop and retreated inside to call 911. Martin kept punching the supine Zimmerman who saw no option but to pull out his gun and shoot Martin. Martin’s last words, according to Zimmerman, were, “Tell Mama ‘Licia I’m sorry.”

At any time, Barack Obama could have shared the facts of the case and lowered expectations, but he chose not to. After all, 2012 was an election year, and Florida was a battleground state. His decision to identify himself with Martin gave me the title for my book If I Had a Son: Race, Guns, and the Railroading of George Zimmerman.

Having heard the facts, the six-woman jury acquitted Zimmerman. Indifferent to the facts, leftists and their media exploded in wrathful indignation. Said Crump, staying true to his own narrative, “Trayvon Martin will forever remain in the annals of history next to Medgar Evers and Emmett Till, as symbols for the fight for equal justice for all.”

“Trayvon Martin is Our Emmett Till; Our Jury Selection Process Is No Better Now That It Was In 1955,” read the headline of a Daily Kos article. At the end of a long list that began with Emmett Till and ended with Trayvon Martin, the New York Daily News asked, “When will it all end?”

Among the outraged were three female Marxists who promptly launched an outfit that came to be known as Black Lives Matter. A year after the trial, they took their show on the road to Ferguson, Missouri, and found in the hulking, self-destructive 19-year-old Michael Brown still another Emmett Till.

The media once again obliged the activists. “From Emmett Till to Michael Brown, a story as old as America itself,” read the preposterous headline of an MSNBC article, one of many media outlets willing to insult Till’s memory.

And there were new Emmett Tills to come, none more unlikely than the huge, drug-addled, 46-year-old ex-con George Floyd who died while resisting arrest in 2020. Read an AP headline, “George Floyd and Emmett Till families see parallels in loss.”

While the media and the Democrats scrambled to find still another ersatz Emmett Till, police everywhere grew even more apprehensive about doing their job effectively. As the cops withdrew, gangsters filled the void, and hundreds of young, innocent black boys died needlessly at their hands.

But, hey, there are no votes in talking about that.

Jack Cashill’s new book, Untenable: The True Story of White Ethnic Flight from America’s Cities, is now widely available in all formats.

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About Jack Cashill

Jack Cashill has a Ph.D. in American studies from Purdue University. He has written Barack Obama's Promised Land: Deplorables Need Not Apply. His latest book Untenable: The True Story of White Ethnic Flight from America’s Cities is now available for pre-order in all formats. See more about him at www.Cashill.com.

Photo: US President Joe Biden speaks at the Truman Civil Rights Symposium at the National Archives in Washington, DC, on July 27, 2023. The symposium commemorates the anniversary of former US President Harry S Truman signing Executive Order 9981, which declared that "there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin." (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)