Mark Figley: From Emmett Till to Me Too


By Mark Figley - Guest Columnist



In the summer of August, 1955, a 14-year-old black youth named Emmett Till left his hometown of Chicago to visit relatives in Money, Mississippi. On August 24, Till went to a local grocery store where he spoke with 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the white woman who owned the business with her husband. To this day, events that followed remain sketchy as no witnesses were present. At the time, Bryant alleged that Till flirted with or whistled at her; things not tolerated in Jim Crowe America. Four days later, Till was kidnapped from his uncle’s residence by Bryant’s husband, Roy, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam. The men then beat and tortured Till before shooting him in the head, and dumped his battered body into the Tallahatchie River with a 74-pound gin fan barb-wired around his neck to weight him down. Yet Till’s bloated remains were eventually discovered and returned to Chicago, where his mother demanded an open-coffin funeral so the world could witness what man could do to man.

Bryant and Milam would be arrested and charged with murder and kidnapping. In the days that followed, Carolyn Bryant reported that Till had insulted her. Meanwhile, at the trial, with the jury not present, she testified that Till took her hand and followed her behind the counter, before grabbing her around the waist and uttering obscenities.

As expected, in September, 1955, an all-white jury acquitted Bryant and Milam in the case. Protected by double jeopardy, the men later admitted in a 1956 Look magazine interview to abducting and killing Till. But the story didn’t end there.

In a 2008 interview with Timothy Tyson, a senior research scholar at Duke University and author of the 2017 best-seller, “The Blood of Emmett Till,” Carolyn Bryant admitted to lying about Till making advances toward her. Specifically, she stated that Till never grabbed her waist or uttered any obscenities, adding, “You tell these stories for so long that they seem true. Nothing that boy (Till) did could ever justify what happened to him.”

Fast forward to present-day Me Too America and the orchestrated smear campaign launched against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh; a man of impeccable character with a stellar record on the federal bench, vetted through six separate federal background investigations. California’s esteemed Senator Feinstein conceals a letter alleging his attempted rape of then 15-year-old Christine Blasey Ford at a 1982 party when he was in high school. The alleged victim never mentions the incident to anyone until sharing it during a couples therapy session in 2012. She can’t remember the physical location, date of the incident, how she arrived there, or how she got home, but knows she had one beer. Three people she claims were at the party, including a female friend, issue denials. The only reported witness to the act is a male friend of Kavanaugh who is among the three. The purported victim has been described as a Democrat-activist supporter of left-wing financier George Soros. Although relatives of Blasey Ford’s husband reportedly sign a letter of support for her, none of her own family do so.

Offered the opportunity to speak before the Senate Judiciary Committee, she retains high-priced attorneys she can’t reasonably afford, spurns numerous offers to testify, and demands to set terms for her testimony. Ford even initially claims she can’t fly from California to Washington as the original assault left her too traumatized, then admits under oath to flying to numerous vacation destinations. In the end, her testimony remains uncorroborated and a seventh background check fails to substantiate any new allegations against Kavanaugh.

Meanwhile, Democrat senators and feminists proclaim that Kavanaugh has no right to either due process or a presumption of innocence. The nominee also has the burden of proving that he’s not guilty as charged, and to clear his name should demand that the FBI investigate him. Then in the midst of the lead-up to a hearing to obtain testimony from both Kavanaugh and his accuser, four more curiously-timed victims are said to exist, alleging similar inappropriate behavior on his part. Consider too that many Senate Democrats professed their opposition to Kavanaugh from the time he was nominated for the Court, including Rhode Island’s Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who threatens to lead impeachment proceedings against Judge Kavanaugh if he is confirmed.

Welcome to the psycho circus.

This ugly process is not new. It first unfolded over 30 years ago, beginning with Robert Bork, when the politics of personal destruction was first used by the Left to deny a conservative Constitutionalist his rightful seat on the Supreme Court. It then morphed into the use of sexual misconduct as a means to destroy Clarence Thomas. Now, the Me Too movement has shown the lengths it is willing to go to destroy a like-minded candidate for the nation’s highest court and to publicly disgrace his family through shamelessly-spread allegations without a semblance of truth; all in the pursuit of power.

Over 60 years ago, Emmett Till paid the ultimate price in a Me Too moment in history; a black child murdered because a white woman’s word was enough. Eerie similarities live on today with those who would use sexual accusations to politically murder Brett Kavanaugh; a conservative white male selected by Donald Trump. But the turning point in Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court turned on his defiant, emotionally-charged defense of himself on national television. Sadly, Emmett Till was denied the chance to defend himself, and thus the destruction to his reputation lasted for many years. In the case of Brett Kavanaugh, he and his family will ultimately determine how long the pain endures following the slanderous ruination of his once-sterling reputation, and whether a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court was truly worth it.

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By Mark Figley

Guest Columnist

Mark Figley is a political activist and guest columnist from Elida. His column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News. Reach him a figley@wcoil.com.

Mark Figley is a political activist and guest columnist from Elida. His column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the The Lima News editorial board or AIM Media, owner of The Lima News. Reach him a figley@wcoil.com.

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