Monuments teach us lessons about the toll of hatred

tags: Emmett Till

Renee Graham can be reached at renee.graham@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @reneeygraham

Emmett Till has been dead more than 60 years, and they still won’t let him rest in peace.

Someone again vandalized a memorial to the African-American teenager who was kidnapped, mutilated, and murdered by two white men in Money, Miss., in 1955. Originally installed in 2011, the marker was scratched with a blunt tool in May, but an attack in late June attack left far more damage. Panels featuring Till’s image and the story of his killing were peeled off. All that remains is the logo for the Mississippi Freedom Trail, of which the memorial is part.

Whoever destroyed that marker wanted to erase history. 

This isn’t the only memorial to the Chicago boy that’s been marred in Mississippi. Last fall, someone shot up a marker at the Tallahatchie River, where Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam dumped Till’s brutalized body. (An all-white jury acquitted the two men; later, they gave a detailed confession to Look magazine.) In 2006, an Emmett Till Memorial Highway sign was defaced with the initials “KKK.” 

Do not equate the desecration of these memorials with the recent removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans. Those statues of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis remain intact but out of public view. Like the defeated men whom those statues commemorate, the vandals who deface civil rights memorials intend to intimidate and sustain racist subjugation. One can draw a straight line from these unknown criminals to zealots of the “lost cause” still choking on the bitter disgrace of a nation-defining war that ended more than 150 years ago. ...

Read entire article at The Boston Globe

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