Will lynching become history in the U.S.?
Updated 19:22, 29-Mar-2023
First Voice

Editor's note: Democracy's Broken Promises is a five-part animation series that delves into the myths of American democracy. Through fictionalized narratives based on real events, this series explores the true extent of the power American voters have to transform their society. The third episode is about lynching in America.

I'm Emmett Till. I was tortured, dismembered, shot again, and then thrown into the Tallahatchie River in 1955.

That was because I was believed to have whistled at a White lady.

As a 14-year-old boy, I dreamed of many good days ahead – getting educated, finding a good job, getting married, buying a big house in a big city…

Those dreams vanished in 1955 along with my life, because of an alleged whistle. Or more precisely, because I am Black.

For Black people, the law is meaningless.

We have no rights. White mobs attack us – at their will, with no evidence.

Being "disresectful" to them is enough to pay our lives. In 1888, seven Black men in Alabama were killed for drinking water. In 1908, David Walker in Hickman, Kentucky, said some improper words to a White lady. His wife and four kids were killed. In 1918, Elton Mitchell was knifed to death because he refused to work without pay.

The list goes on. Reports documented about 6,500 lynchings from 1865 to 1950, but the actual number of attacks may never be known.

White people made postcards to celebrate lynchings. Crowds gathered to enjoy the brutality.

In 1893, Whites burned a poor Black man to death in front of 10,000 people. Many took trains, and brought their kids to watch. In 1916, White people cut the fingers and toes off of a Black man. That wasn't the worst. They put those body parts on sale as "souvenirs."

The government has not protected us.

In 2022, President Joe Biden signed a bill into law under my name. That bill makes lynching a federal hate crime.

But does that help?

The same year, a White gunman shot 10 Black people to death in Buffalo. His goal was to "kill as many Blacks as possible."

Random killings against us are nothing new even in the 21st century.

When will lynching become history? No one knows.

This video is intended as a review of the progress in civil rights for Black Americans, not a historical representation of Emmett Till's views or ideas.

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