America’s Original Sin

I’ve been reading James Cone’s, The Cross and the Lynching Tree.” It’s a powerful book and one that everyone in the United States ought to read. I thought I knew how much black folks had suffered but I really had a very shallow understanding of the depth and the length of their oppression. I’m not really late to the game. I grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and as I’ve written previously my father was deeply prejudiced and that colored my view of the world. However I was a fan of Dr. Martin Luther King and I followed his work with interest.

One of the stories in this book that was left out of my worldview then was the story of a young boy who was murdered when I was not quite three years old. The story and my ignorance of it are clear examples of white privilege. I never heard anything of Emmett Till in my schooling.

Because he had whistled at a white woman and reportedly said “bye baby” as he departed from a store on August 24, 1955, Emmett Till was picked up four days later around 2: 00 a.m., beaten beyond recognition, shot in the head, and thrown in the Tallahatchie River, “weighted down with a heavy gin fan.”[ 2]”

— The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James H. Cone

Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of this book. It’s well written and extremely well documented.