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As a Brit, my two Emmett Tills

[ by Charles Cameron — honoring the Civil Rights movement ]

I’m truly sorry, but these two photos tell a mother’s tale — Emmett Till as his mother knew and loved him, and Emmett Till as she found him, when she ordered his coffin opened…

There’s a documentary now released — Hope and Fury: MLK, the Movement and the Media — which features Emmett Till‘s image as revealed in photographs taken when his coffin was opened, and exploring how that image radicalized Americas’s awareness of the lynching mentality, sending a shock wave amplifying the emergent Civil Rights movement.

America is remembering — and I as a Brit have two Emmett Tills to remember: Hugh Masekela, — and Medgar Evers.


Hugh Masekela:

Hugh Masekela, the great jazz trumpeter whom my own mentor, Fr Trevor Huddleston mentored and gifted:


Medgar Evers:

Medgar Evers, first, because Bob Dylan recorded Only a Pawn in their Game:

which acquainted me, forcibly, with Medgar Evers’ name — and next because I knew his son, Darrell, for a few years:

That’s a pretty extraordinary interview, and the video itself wound up on the Eyes on the Prize cutting room floor.

Darrell’s description of his father’s pooled blood — Darrell being an artist — was seared into my mind by association with the painter’s term crimson lake.. a private association, surely, but no less forceful for that.


In those two names, their holders themselves both now deceased, I honor the civil rights movement in the US — our equivalent in the UK was the anti-apartheid movement, of which Fr Trevor was for many years the president.

Heroes, all — may they rest in peace.

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