tv Preserving Emmett Tills Memory CSPAN October 29, 2022 6:35pm-8:00pm EDT
here. it is a humbling and very special day to welcome you. and as we come together in communities, let's acknowledge this. [inaudible]. and the tribe here in the greater washington dc area. the chesapeake bay still home to the native indigenous people and to all of the hemisphere and we give our respect and our gratitude for the opportunity to work and live here. and can everyone see me and hear me okay, please let us know if you need anything and anything we can help you with and we want to feel home here as fleece whatever you need to do to feel welcome and received rated we hear the nations museum have created a new strategic plan together dedicated to becoming the most inclusive relevant
sustainable public street institution and a new mission is hiring people to create more compassionate futures by preserving and sharing the complexities of the past is grounded in understanding and in depth of an inviting commitment to presenting complex stories to draw important connections between historical and contemporary experiences and events and xmas and we open tomorrow to the public but to you today is reckoning with remembrance of history and justice in the murder of emmett till thus looks at how and what we remember in the defaced riverside marker and explain it the long and painful history of anti- black violence and discontinuation into our present and spotlights the ongoing perseverance and efficacy of
community members individuals are gathered here today to have the story be publicly recognized and not forgotten for emmett till and the constant defacement of the marker that you will see over ten years demonstrates the contested nature of history. it challenges public commemorations and historical interpretations and the ramifications that emmett till has in our present day in society and assigned that is now in the nation's collections and that were so honored to stewarded to take care of, for the rest of the days. 317 times shot. and each bullet hole is an act of violence against national memories of the memory of emmett till we place it marker in the very center of the museum and what we call the hall to demonstrate this instant for
this integral role in separable integral role in the making story rated and this is the second onset to be in that spot in as the museum opened in 1964 location like everything else we have done, reflective of the inputs of our incredible community partners with whom we have the expedition and with whom we are so grateful rated our objective is center of the story anti- black violence and community organizers within american history and so here in our opening today, i'm so deeply honored to welcome all of you and especially some very special guests rated evidence cousin and best friend, rev. wheeler parker and his wife and the last living relative who was an eyewitness. and got gordon and cousin an executive director for the main
foundation, misses any right, widow of emma's cousin and second eyewitness. and doctor patrick the executive director of the emmett till interpreter center in the memorial commission, they have entrusted us to preserve and present the legacy of emmett till to the country through the sign rated and representative. [inaudible]. serving the 30th district which includes tallahassee. and working with him his family and the community members as co- curators, comprehensive, a place in narrative about till storing the decades of activism and organizing in mississippi and on the nation and it went into preserving it so i'm so grateful and humbled to be with you all today. i'm grateful to have the
leadership from the smithsonian including doug hall, interim undersecretary administration here with us today members of so many different communities national trust the national park service, the journalists and the writers activists and my incredible fellow colleagues. and thank you to those colleagues and so many american history staff for their time and their dedication over the years to make this moment happened today. i am so grateful of doctor nancy and patricia, and more. and tonya james maria, and others. and so many more rated not quite finished yet but her own wonderful, the office of protective services and offices
of facilities management and so many others who work so hard in designing, the beautiful exhibits, conserve against and installing it in those helping us today. i'm honored to work with you to be your director read it is a pleasure to bring to the screen, not to the states, history, that he is a very has a very very special message for all of you in the first african-american historian and firstborn museum director to lead the smithsonian in 14 secretary ronnie. >> thank you for inviting me to speak today and is deeply meaningful to be part of this event because so much of my professional and personal perspective has been shaped by the legacy of emmett till and the courage of his mother. when i was director of the national museum of history and
culture, every morning i began my day by visiting the till exhibition and the strength that i gathered there from missus till's memory only get through even the hardest days. it was thanks to her that her son's murder reunited the civil rights movement in the 20th century. in the midst of her own personal devastation, she chose to keep his casket hope and achieve one of the world to see what they did to her son. she refused to let america go look away. i first met her in chicago, and the opportunity to spend a fair amount of time there just trying despite the death in 2003, she spoke to me about how she carried the burden of emma's death and the meaning of this loss for nearly 50 years. she wondered who would carry her burden when she was gone.
and i took that as a direct charge to name the to make sure that emmett till and countless other victims of violence, would not be forgotten. and this is what any institution of history must do to carry the weight of the memory and regardless how painful and difficult and of the core of the great museum lies not just this to remember the commitment to use that memory to hold our country accountable. in the promise of justice, and freedom and equality pretty and to learn from her and to refuse to let america look away. that is why today's event is moving and why this exhibition is so significant. but the bullet within historical marker that will be displayed mindsets the grounds of the
racism. we toss until we refuse to face it and as this continues, the museum can help our country move forward it. the museum can help us remember not just the tragedy and the harm, but the determination resiliency and courage. of those witnessed and as a result of the story of emmett till, it is part of the national heritage but also a local story. and before i close on the honor the tallahassee county and remember emmett till in large part because the members in the family members who have carried this burden through the years and continue to ensure that his memory will never be loss. meeks and a special thanks. to the parkers and all the members of the till family and
the members to the memorial commission and the smithsonian is honored to join you and shared work. and lastly, the me think all those involved and everyone that handed building the reckoning of the remembrance and exhibition and you are making an nation better. thank you. [applause] >> i sent a text after he recorded that for us. and thank him so much on the behalf of all of us and he texted me back in he said this work is so special special i only wish that i could be with you in person at and i think he did a pretty good job bringing
himself to us and he is here with us certainly in spirit and in inspiration. so without further ado, it is an honor again to bring forth new friends old souls and incredible panelist as well as our moderator for today's program predict sarcasm honor. rev. wheeler parker, activist and a family member and eyewitness and pastor of raleigh methodist church pastor williams and missus to be cochair of the memorial commission and of course a spiritual of of the memorial commission's work. and jessie jaynes-diming, commission member and civil rights guide in his passion and drive of kept his history alive.
jermaine, an award-winning u.s. history teacher at tallahassee high school recognized for his mentorship and civil rights curriculum. and of course that focuses on the stories and talented young people to draw important conclusions and connections. we are honored it that the conversation will be moderated by doctor university of kansas professor one of the country's foremost scholars of emmett till and offer and author of an incredibly powerful book published in 1919 on emmett till and doctor, and panelist please come up to the stage. [applause] [applause]
[background sounds]. [background sounds]. >> greetings everyone can you all hear me. all right, thank you. thank you for the introduction and in one of the first conversations that some of us had leading up to this event, rev. wheeler parker said that the sign of bullet holes on the exhibit there said that sign tells a story. don't you think you that he is right. and this morning i have the honor, we have the honor of being here with four stewards of that story of people who the secretary on it, took up this charge and have refused to let
the world look away and over the course of the next half-hour have hour or so we will hear from each of them but what the sign the vandalism teaches us about the story about emmett till and the stakes of remembrance and the tenacity and about the possibilities for reconciliation. but before turning to our panelist a lot of say briefly the side of the story that it tells into ways and the first want to acknowledge that it's a complex story, story vandalism and respiration and is the story of broken notice and healing. it is a story of a violent past, fragile present in the hope of a more just future. and starting by acknowledging the healing restorations are part of the story, is a testament to what can happen if a small group of citizens including my colleagues on the stage refuse to let brokenness
have the last word because signs don't fix themselves and there's nothing inevitable about reconciliation. if you start with murder of emmett till in august of 1955, you have to count 49 years, and 11 months before the state of mississippi got a single dollar from the emmett till commemoration and thankfully, there is a group of local citizens in tallahassee county that found this violence intolerable. and i want to say their names and among others i am thinking of bobby bank robert grayson, john will she, betty pearson, willie williams, jesse james, and johnny b thomas, and especially drone little pretty and i don't imagine that these men and women ever dreamed that their stories would be told in the smithsonian.
but driven by the hope they hate would not win out they organize themselves at the commission and they raise money and they did something that it never been done before, the began to tell the story and the landscape of the mississippi delta and so it is complex and nothing has been one for the people that you see on the stage, are not only stewardess that tell stories, i also think of them as people who stood in the ark of a long history of racism and vandalism and violence and begin the work of venting that history back towards justice read and second, the story told by the sign is unfinished as a scholar of murdr in his memory but to my dear's convictions is that the story of his murray and converter must not be confined 1955, it is a story use relevance grows more pressing with each passing year. i want you to think for a
moment, about the bullet holes at 317 of them, that phil that sign. they have always struck me as simple but found powerful reminders that the racism the cost emmett till and his wife is still with us and later as they are, an account of what happened it in 1955 that have pulled that old story into the present and though we are talking with people at breakfast this morning, that is what this exhibit is says and apart from any other exhibit in the country. of thinking of the wanted jackson and the one next door the one in memphis there powerful and all of those exhibits tell the story of emmett till by focusing on 1955 in this the only exhibit that i know about the traces that story from 1955, straight through the 21st century. with those two comments, as a framework, then return to our
panelist we will start with rev. wheeler parker. doctor i've heard you say many times, that if you were not there, you can't really know what happened and you were there in 1955 and if you woody, take us back to that moment and tell us what happened at the grocery store and into the home of moses >> first of all i would like to say that 66 years ago last saturday, i was 16 years old. that morning, was the morning they came and kidnapped emmett till and i had my moments and i can remember that the thing showed up just before she died his mother and she told me that she wanted me to carry on the work and they wanted to name it
emmett till memorial center and everything was that i hope that he did not die in vain in coming here today, is a reminder that emmett till did not die in vain, he still speaks, sad to say i think he has done or death they would've done if he had lived so many things have come to past and done to help racism and help and with that i will go back into what happened at the store. so many stories that have been told is still mind-boggling to me that happened in 1985. the first interview that we had for eyewitnesses, was 1985 is
happened in 1955. can you believe it and then when i told my story, they said rev. wheeler parker alleged and can you imagine how painful and how insulting that is. how can you do that well i guess, on the streets of the fellow americans. in 19 and they also called me so also you how light can prevail the first, was last semi version of what happened in store, i saw the eyes on the prize. and not to be little anyone. in my first cousin would tell the story. i would say what, i was there.
[inaudible]. she were lying through her teeth rated. [laughter] and tell me what happened at the store pretty and she was not there at all. and until the teacher that he said this the deep storyline until this one is going to keep telling and told what happened. he said man, forgive me, i'm going to walk to the tower interior and a thousand pieces into the wind. then i'm going to go find the pieces and he did not find the pieces. and that's why the story prevails. and later, my cousin had gone on and talk to him and he apologized and the family got on them or something like that in the sand tell him and i don't
know why they didn't come to asked to interview. but elise for the truth, within 30 years you could've found it some kind of way. so he came and did a documentary in 1985. that is when they changed up until 30 years of his like emmett till got what he deserved the segment of american from the black people, we didn't talk about this. my grandfather would not have let that happened in these people that live in the pacific, they were raised under these kind of conditions and they literally have no idea what i am talking about and you would never have an idea unless you did so don't criticize. until you walk a mile in my what, my shoes. so we were there in the store,
and purchase was the same, emmett till came in. and it knew the style i knew he had to have this just right, can you imagine. and you have every right. that is unbelievable and i said was wrong with these people. what is their insecurity. because they think that you are looking at somebody wrong and you will die nobody would help you predict they could call you could not call the police or the government or the present or you could not call anyone. absolutely nothing and emmett till said the fbi would not get involved. but anyway, i'm in the sort of sitting there and we called him a nickname and we got all this
together and i lived in the south eight years prior to moving to illinois side not forgotten anything pretty. >> women didn't have too much of a problem. we move on from that and said what happened. at any rate, that's a whole other story that we will talk about and they said will will come first. [inaudible]. but anyways, we have a real serious problem, i am a real serious problem. so i was in the store and emmett till said nothing happened. absolutely nothing everything was smooth no problems. [inaudible]. and he was 12 and he had been
with him and said absolutely nothing happened. [inaudible]. they came out of the store and instead are not tongue-tied but all of the time and he loved to make people laugh. he loved telling jokes. she came out of the store and some people would think it was a whistle. [inaudible]. and we said, more than the we're just here for the cop. but we knew that there was a real fear behind that. and start but now and were going on this gravel road with dark fear road. just as flying everywhere. and they said he's after us or the year after us.
and he was in the car and there we went. [inaudible]. he had in the car. he just laid down. he had his own idea. so we regrouped and she was just as scared. [inaudible]. and how it impacts you and affects you when you're raised in that kind of situation, is there for life for two reasons. and affects your behavior and your mind pretty so she said this is not over and you guys want will hear more about this d maybe that's what my grandfathee 16 of 14 and 12. thereabouts. because this was wednesday and then thursday nothing have a a
nothing happened. now we thought that it was all over with now. and we would just have a great good time and that we would never have and in the sitting in the south, if it white men will be black, you wouldn't be white no more. [laughter] life itself, we enjoyed life like things were never satisfy you. we would try so hard to enjoy life and thought this is terrific. and the more you have more trouble you have. and give you houses and land in children and you guys know what i'm talking about.
let me know when you want me to stop. [laughter] i said don't give the preacher the microphone pretty. [laughter] shame on you dave. [inaudible]. so that is what happened and of course, on the way home i'll talk about on the way home my uncle maurice and a dog. in about 230 in the morning, i'll never forget it like it happened yesterday. i heard them talking and they're talking about what happened at the store and i heard all of the stories but not the story and my daddy in the middle of the night thinking that he is gone, his baby. my uncle told me about dads speaking from his house and you
heard all the stories, what happened to black people for little nothing. you get ready to die from the going to kill us being from a very religious family rated all i could think of was all of the wrongs i ever done in getting ready to die on the hill. missionary i don't need no preacher, the stuff was in me and i started to pray, god, he just let me live, i'm going to do right and thought about this man out of the ocean, is about to die, the sharks are coming for him. and he said god i will treat my little boat printed brother right and then he said i'll marry a young lady and i will treat her right and i was prayig
on that order if god would just let me live i'm going to correct all of the wrongs i'm going to do right now is shaking like a leaf of the tree. and this was in the south. there was no light to reflect. and they're coming my way in my room there's no lights on net a gun in one hand and i got a pistol and i'm literally shaking a leaf on a tree, i'm trying to live at 16. i welcome your smile and i'm going to sit here and enjoy it is 16, your facing life and they came in a close my eyes. they did not shoot me an open my eyes and they gone past into the next room and then the third room and then whatever order
read it was a horrible horrible morning it was a sunday morning. you should be getting ready to go to church and this is happening to us and you feel so helpless. if you feel helpless like that, you cannot explain and not put it into words. they left with him. [inaudible]. >> thank you. reverend williams 50 years after 30 years, after people first started asking wheeler what happened it. the memorial commission, started in tallahatchie county one of the first thing commission did was invite rev. wheeler parker and other emily members to come down to tallahassee county and can you tell us about that in your role in it what it meant to you pretty. >> sure. first of all his owner to be
here on this platform and i'm just thankful that we are able to keep his legacy alive. so would have been in zero seven, the public apology, and my understanding that there had never been a recognition of what happened from a public perspective and what you can dot it in the community and basically an hours community in tallahassee county, and some other counties. i grew up in that community and i guess when i was a teenager, so i heard bits and pieces for my mom and i grew up in tallahassee county read there wasn't anything said publicly.
so i became the supervisor i don't really know, like i was in hearing bits and pieces. i think i gave him efficient, he said we need to do something anyway in oh seven, you know kind of the recommendation to give a public apology and the commission had been somewhat fod working with susan and william and kind of came on board afterwards and helped us. it was a biracial commission and our goal was to bring it out of the darkness that this is something that needs to be largest known tallahassee county. this is america's problem. what we are living in.
has happened in the past but as part of the present and i will say of the stage, then i believe in sparked something in our community than when i first met you, wheeler and i don't know man is about three or 400 people sitting that the unit was powerful and the governor was there and you guys were there and at that time i was not part of the commission, i've been asked to the prayer. do believe that day sparked a new beginning of what we are doing today as it relates to his death and i'm grateful that we have come from zero seven to where we are today, we have come a long ways.
because when i began, we didn't even have a bank account with nothing. but the point is, i'm grateful that our community had the courage of thankful for jerome, it was our first african-american supervisor who did the groundwork to even come here as an elected official so we owe a lot to jerome grateful for his vision and also with another who is with us today. but i will say, i'll this to how
to keep dream alive and how to respect in our own community but is more than a community issue so we are grateful to be a part of what is going on today and being cochair of the commission now, guess i'm so much hope because i believe there needs to be an aspect and the pain and the suffering and was reading something that doctor king said about forgiveness and he said that forgiveness is a permanent attitude and we have to learn. and i think as a nation we have come a long ways but we still have a punk ways to go but i believe we can get there we
continue to do what were doing to shine a light in the most darkest places and i believe that this work will continue on. if i'm grateful to be a small part of it and thank you. >> you were there at the beginning and a couple of years ago, one transition, you been given a lot of tours over the years, couple of years ago, he told npr there's a lot of pushback in your community to the formation of the commission in detail the stories to tell the emmett till story and talk a little bit about why it's important for you and for the community. putting up these signs and keep
telling till story. >> on this journey, i came on board in 2005 i married to this long-term thread, they were not called littles and deming they were called deming and during my travels and bringing my husband back home to see his family, i was introduced to jerome and jerome was type of person that get along with you and so many goals and aspirations a bright broughtyou into the conversatioh
we had many, whether it be 12:0r 2:00 o'clock in the morning or 9:00 o'clock at night. jerome would reach out to you and he told me that he went into the service he was a marine, and while he was overseas, the conversations came up about emmett till. and from that i'll try to shorten it a little bit. it from that he became aware that he did not know his own history and his own local history and heritage. so he created a file of himself that personal, he wanted to offer an apology to be my family. that's an attorney because he promised to chicago to be family
so is his dream and his passion to spread the word and not be in the dark and share light or shed light on the emmett till story. he wanted to do so much more than that flyer had produced something because were sitting here today pretty they said i need you to serve on this commission pretty much said what are you talking about. so here i am today and he is with us. he saw so much injustice about the death of emmett till that he wanted to be nationally
recognized and he had dreams and aspirations of becoming a national service destination and it was not for selfish reasons it was because of his journey in his life that he struggled to come eventually president of the board of supervisors and he grew up in mississippi as a transplant, human sam from chicago and i lived in chicago and then it moved to mississippi and i believe in life paths of my life at was to be there with him. right before he passed away, we had a meeting scheduled and went to vanessa jerome, play do you know predict you are not able to come under the best we can stand in the gap.
for his legacy through jerome's legacy because it not been for him, warning for the story, for his children and for generations of children and to understand the fight that got us here today because i've heard so many stories about how african-americans were not allowed to wear lipstick but you could not look away man in the face and all of that pretty i grew up in chicago and i was always aware of emmett's story because i want to say we celebrated but it never died, because of the ebony magazine and i never got pushback. so, it is important that the world see what happens.
now i've always felt a kinship to her his mother. and that legacy and strength she showed in something that many of us tune into and support because some days to get a little too hard and from that, i will move on. i just want to give you guys a little piece and how we got here today pretty and how we got here today is that jerome found out something about his own backyard. and from that, we have moved to the smithsonian. how awesome is that. and he was to me, the originator
it was very important that we be true to history. that's how they were identified and it was not an overnight project. the railroad sign has become one of the most momentous signs and the place that fell it is very sacred. you can feel the significance of that time so we put up our first sign and we put up all of our
signs there. the night that obama was elected as president, the sign disappeared. polls and everything. the magazine and the news media covered that disappearance of that sign and 30 days later the board of supervisors met and at that meeting the room could not hold the people that were there and they ran the article and the words came off the page as if why did he think that the sign was vandalized and he said because man was elected as
president of the united states. so 30 days later the room was filled to the brim with individuals wanting him to resign. in the local paper there was an editorial page that said that shame on him for saying that but he told them at that meeting, i will resign as president of the board of supervisors but i will not resign as an equalizer. to know jerome was to love him. jerome was a big tall black man that didn't mind getting into anybody's face. jerome was known for pushing tables across the room.
he had this not squeaky voice but it was a unique voice that when he was screaming he was not as loud as i am but he had a presence about him and i talk all the time about that. okay so we replace that sign and that sign is assigned that is now displayed here at the smithsonian which is a privilege. i'm going to tell a little bit about myself. i was not welcoming to releasing our history because i felt like that was our history that nancy
and simone, something happened that you have it. you have it and i'm entrusting it to you all to preserve the history and you guys are doing an awesome job with that. and it came out that i think it was our teacher for america, people came down and they put the signs on facebook and as a result of that i think it was two or three years to find out exactly who did it and why it was done. then we did duct tape then we put up another sign. you remember that one, right?
three weeks later i took into her out there where that sign was set up so the sign has been interesting history, i will say it that way. after that, after we put up the sign, after he put up the bulletproof sign we had a group of individuals that had a rally. anyway i have always felt like because when we started out with these tours and we go there to that location even to restore money. we used to get a lot of
resistance. the emmett till commission was being formed. we have african-americans and white people asking why are you all bringing this up? i done have anything to do with it you know. but those days are over with because these individuals here, that's what happened to them. they were not told. they were just warned you don't want to end up like this and a lot of parents in the african-american community said get those young men out of the area in fear of what might happen to them. but because of her strength to tell her child story and her story it's an honor to be sitting here today and now we
have the bulletproof sign and we are so honored to be here at the smithsonian and we are looking forward to it being a permanent exhibit and we look forward to having national parks recognize us because the story of emmett is still happening. the mindset of individuals that are still out there but we are saying no more. stop. we are all human. we are all lost and some people are browner and i'm not going to
be mad at you because you are lighter than me. one day we will get past this and i want my children, my grandchildren, my children's children to understand how we got here today. >> i want to make sure you know what you are looking at when you go up there and the sign you will see marks the bottom of the tallahatchie river in the trees and the water. the commission is marked that site. it was stolen and turned the river and never recovered in the second one was on display there. that was taken down in 2016 after the publicity that we just talked about and sign up or
three plus to 35 days before was taken down in 2019 in the commission dedicated the bulletproof sign. mr. hampton teaches high school social studies five miles from. germane tell us what it's like to teach the sub till story in that context and particularly if you could tell us how you helped her students do that. >> good afternoon everyone. it's truly an honor to be an educator especially history educator and in the area that helped spark a civil rights movement. i think oftentimes my students and community members intimate
the importance of our area in terms of what the story is surrounding and what it did for this nation. i believe students should be given a platform in reference to the stories of the emmett till and what's happening in the community now and the efforts to improve racial reconciliation in the area. i think patrick and dan did that for her constituents in that county and my students have had an opportunity this past summer to participate in the filmmakers workshop and i'm hoping in spite of covid going on right now i hope we can return in person and
i am hoping for my students to be able to start the process and create a documentary around emmett till and the story of the bayou and also adding miss ms. fannie lou hamer into that discussion as well. this is not just going to be a historical look but a modern-day look. they are to efforts to erase reconciliation and to economic problems today and just giving the students an opportunity to share with the world. >> i want to come back to you dr. parker. what does it mean to you to have the signed? that sign has been on a long journey. what does it mean to you to have the sign here at the national museum of american history?
>> lest we forget and i've been a bible scholar. put it on the doors put it everywhere because we do forget and by me coming here to them it inspired me. i'm going to go back home and do some more. i'm bringing somebody to see this i saw all that the people who worked for freedom in the price they paid our community and our children bringing people to see that we need people to do it. i'm going to approach the church because we have not, what can i
say have no -- so i'm going to back -- back because when you see the sign and you see all the displays that we have and his mother asked me and my wife to carry on the legacy. a 22 years old by really committed myself. and we are put here to serve. if you want to be happy we are givers and takers and we are givers. reverend milley -- reverend williams what does it mean for you to have the sign here? >> it means to me at think it's
very important we know our history. history should not paralyze us. when it looks at the history it shouldn't define who you are in the future but i do think it's a learning tool and then we learn history we learn from it and we move and continue to work together as a people and i'm just so grateful to be a part of this commission. so labor of love, sacrifice but we all have to be willing to sacrifice so that will keep me going.
>> that reminds the in the 2007 event when the commission invited family members to tallahatchie county in the first things out of their mouth was we believe racial reconciliation begins with telling the truth. and you can see that it worked. we are at the time for questions from the audience and so i'm told that there will be people with microphones so please stand up and make yourself visible and we welcome all sorts of questions and any questions that you would have. >> before ghani further if it's okay my uncle simeon who was one of the greatest speakers for the sub eight family before he passed on his wife is here and i
would like for her to stand and be recognized. [applause] that's my auntie and she's been doing what she can and we just thank god for her and her husband. they are one-of-a-kind. so we think god for anti-virginia. >> my name is hazel editor-in-chief of the tri-city news wire and they teach at howard university multicultural media history. my question is this. as i was listening to you all i remember a history lesson about the shot that was heard all around the world in the revolutionary war. emmett till sort of gave the
whistle that we heard all around the world. we know what happened after the revolutionary war. i would like to know where we go from here and which each of you would like to see calm from what happened to our little brother, emmett till? what do you say new future? >> is that directed to anyone special? >> anyone who wants to respond. >> i would just respond first of all his life was definitely not his name. he was 14 years old and hadn't
even begun to live and what happened to him didn't have anything to do with law enforcement didn't have anything to do with him committing a crime and his life was taken away from him. the epitome of injustice and we don't ever want that to happen again. so keeping this in the present i feel is so important and not just black folks but people whatever ethnicity and they want to continue to hold up that family and not only that but to also celebrate the things that we should celebrate as it relates to growing moving and
creating the space where people can begin to heal from the pain. i believe telling the truth and keeping the story alive and continue to bring healing in the process. >> what you are saying is we need education so maybe you can help us on that. >> what i get out of that the most is that somewhere out there the young people will follow in our footsteps. they will get a fire in their belly that someone thinks that someone else doesn't deserve to
live and to walk there life path that will make a difference to them. the most important thing is what all of us here have done and each one of you here today. this saying is stand for nothing and fall for anything. and to go back in time and not to move forward. for me it will be when i'm looking down from heaven to see that the legacy that we have created here today and with each one of our lives is still moving forward and maybe one day we will get to that point where these stories are inspirational and easy to carry because
somebody else's talking about them. >> one more question in the back. >> i'm a journalist and taught journalism students and i'm very much interested in history. when emmett till i saw the picture in jet magazine and i was 17 years old and i tell everyone i tell my students that was my wake-up call. you know they say woke. for me, i grew up in alabama in a county that was 90% black so was different than living someplace like mississippi. when i was 13 my father was in the military and we had to drive
from texas to alabama and my father planned that trip so that it would not be at night driving back from texas to alabama. he had just come back from germany and july of 1955. i would like to know about the teaching because i don't believe believe -- we have spent a lot of time trying to get the public school system to teach our history. i think -- and i'd like to get your response to the concept that lacks sororities and civic and churches and organizations could make that a part of their agenda. >> amen.
that's a hard, hard sell, a hard hard sell. i don't know why we don't tell our story. they tried to stop them from telling that story. we are going to keep it before you. if we don't we are going to forget it. i don't know if we were ashamed of it but in the south when something happened you didn't talk. about what happened. and i live right outside of chicago and i even had food. and for some reason and my
experience is that this is what it's going to take to tell the story. i'm a pastor and i say we are the problem. we go to church before we go anywhere and we just don't have the ability to tell the story. there's so much i've learned about history so late in life than i should have learned it earlier. i did learn about booker t. washington and at that time that's all i learned. other than that it was about cotton pickers and something to make you feel and fear all the time.
it's like him chicago and i'm in kenya so we got got to tell the story. we don't tell it it's not going to be told so i don't know how we can do it but we need to do better than what we are doing. and i would just like to say emmett's story, emmett was not trying to do civil rights. these people weren't trying to integrate or do what should be done and they got no recognition and emmett was not the first person to be killed by a long shot but he still speaks and ms. parks told the story that she thought about emmett till.
i don't know what you are saying but i'm open. you say you are going to help us. and i applaud you because we need to do something and it can only be done by us. professor can you help us? >> i think within the school system itself my curriculum as a u.s. history teacher at the 11th grade level is civil rights so it's my responsibility to teach the standards to my students and it would be a total travesty to not teach that history especially emmett's history given an event that changed the nation. it gradually turned into triumph
and there is a national effort to stifle the teaching of civil rights content. there is a lot of controversy over the so-called critical race theory. i just view it as telling the truth as to what happened and as educators we just have to be brave and pallet. [applause] >> thank you. well said. we have time for one more question. as he handed the back and if you have questions we are going to be around in the worst bill frieder ask questions afterwards. simi good afternoon. i work for the prince george's county parks and recreation and around the historic sites in prince george's. i'm also served as a commissioner for the reconciliation commission so
this panel has been incredible and we are getting ready to plan public hearings throughout the state of maryland is for a few weeks in october and we will be doing them across all the counties and i serve also on the subcommittee or we call it the reconciliation and justice committee. what i wanted to hear from the panelists were how we have grappling with the reconciliation because we struggle with even using that word. so i would like to hear from you all how you've been dealing with reconciliation and justice and the wonderful work that you do? i have participated in a couple of their programs but i'd love to hear from you all about it.
>> let me just speak to the context when you use the word reconciliation it has a lot to do with the context so if you use reconciliation from a horizontal perspective from one human to another human a man of faith, person of faith i see reconciliation in more than one dimension. so the most important thing for me as a man of faith is to be wrecked and iced by god and it doesn't mean we cannot from a human perspective be reconciled to one another as it relates to doing things together and trying to mend those broken pieces
where we can work together. i don't think everything has to be perfect for you and i to move forward to the common call. i don't think we should put it in one context and say if we can't -- or won't work. we have to work at it and in our context of having 18 people on the commission african-american and caucasian we have built relationships. we are learning and growing together so it takes time. it's not a program. it's a relational issue so you have folks living in the same house and they can't even and file. [laughter] i don't know whether answered your question or not that i'm trying to expand the context.
if you work with people that are willing to work with you and some people wanted and that's okay too. >> i think i don't know where she was speaking on the reconciliation program. i just heard her for the first time ever and she was talking about forgiving. some people think you are supposed to hate. i can't afford the luxury of hate. and she is saying and i'm paraphrasing i forgive them. i can't hold anything against them. so you have to forgive and we are here to talk about animosity and hate. we are here to talk about
history and can we talk about this and can we explain it? i think we have to start by forgiving and people find it hard in my case for me to say i forgive people who have done things to emmett till. people aren't happy at all with it so reconciliation is going to have start. you don't have to hug and kiss everybody but you can't have animosity or ill will and i think when you hate your system is -- so i think what the commission is doing and patrick and what you are all doing i think that brings reconciliation and my wife and what they are doing is they are doing great
work. i think we see it but there's a lot of work. and it needs to be done, you shouldn't be afraid to speak out. i don't like to use this term but being caucasian or white the worst thing that can happen to you and like i said i don't like to say this but it's hard for you to reach out. it's very difficult. it's very challenging to reach out and feel about life people as equally as you do about why. it's a hard sell and it's a learning process. it takes time.
sometimes you state angry a whole week and some of you stay angry at whole month but you have to work on it and work on it. i think we need help from god to do it. it's impossible to do it on your own. and it's a very good question and all the questions you had were good. >> please join me in saying thank you to our four panelists. [applause] >> thank you so much dave and panelists for such a powerful panel. we will now move together to the
second floor of the museum to view and take in as we created the beautiful words. to stand for something to fill the gap and to carry together the weight. as we build coalitions and seek an unvarnished past. reckoning with remembrance history of injustice and the murder of emmett till. we have people on either side of the plaza to direct you. it's hard and now to maintain a little bit of distance if you are with your family or loved ones as we move upstairs and thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for being here today for bearing witness and for remembering together.welcome?