Thanks to Mamie, Chicago’s newspapers, radio, and television were already starting to cover the lynching. A TV news bulletin even interrupted I Love Lucy to report the discovery of the body. Now word spread that Emmett Till’s body was coming home to Chicago. Mamie now envisioned God’s purpose for her life—and for her son’s life: “I took the privacy of my own grief and turned it into a public issue, a political issue, one which set in motion the dynamic force that ultimately led to a generation of social and legal progress for this country.” Unlike any of the white newspapers, soon after Till’s lynching the Pittsburgh Courier predicted that his mother’s “agonized cry” might well become “the opening gun in a war on Dixie, which can reverberate around the world.” Activists across the country hoped and believed that this tragedy might be the wellspring of positive change. Mamie had ensured that to her mother’s cry would now be added the mute accusation of Emmett’s body.
Read that last sentence again and tell me you are not thinking about the present day as well.
Today's voter ID laws obviously do not rise to this level of intimidation, but maybe you can now understand why people who are against them feel so strongly about any form of voter suppression.
This isn't the main point of this excerpt, but I'm struck by just how inflammatory and hateful the hangman's noose is in a racial context. Those who in recent years have hung them are either willfully ignorant of the violence and dehumanization they represent, or are fully aware of just how despicable of a message they are sending.
Justice as some of us understand it was not served in this case, as it often isn't when race and violence mix.
If you are surprised at how prevalent and how deeply ingrained white supremacy is in our country, remember that there are still people alive today who were contemporaries of J.W. Milam, and many more people alive today who were children and grandchildren of contemporaries of J.W. Milam, and as such grew up thinking these things to be not only normal but noble, to be captured and honored in national media publications.