Cousin of Emmett Till: History is not history unless its true.

mcneir | 4/5/2012, 7 a.m.


Wright says that he remains disappointed by the products of authors like Christopher Benson (who co-wrote an autobiography published in 2003 by Mamie Till-Mobley) and Juan Williams (Eyes on the Prize) because neither presents the complete, factual details. Maybe Emmetts death was somehow necessary, Wright says. Before Emmetts death, we (Blacks) did not resist. We just accepted the mistreatment we received at the hands of whites. But after his death, Blacks, especially teens, began to fight back. Some of us left the South. Some whites, I discovered, were beginning to disapprove of the way Blacks were being treated. Some were still afraid but others began to help. Today we see that the laws have been changed I would hope that hearts have changed as well. Young people ask me so many questions about Emmett. I tell them that history is not history unless its true. So many lies continue to be spread about this case and our family. My brother Maurice never accepted a 50-cent store credit to tell Milam and Bryant where we lived and therefore where Emmett was. Emmett never had pictures in his wallet of naked white women. and as far as we know, he never had a secret desire for white women. Writers never mention Mamies second husband. LeMoris Malloy or how he supported her and the family during those terribly difficult days. There are so many so-called facts that have to be corrected. One that always bothers me is the story that they had to sneak my father out of Mississippi after the trial. That never happened. There was no escape plan. In fact, we drove to my uncles house in Browning just outside of Greenwood and he drove us to the train station in Winona. He was never hidden in a coffin and taken across state lines for his own safety. What is true is that my Dad was shocked and disappointed after the verdict came in not guilty. He had put his life on the line and felt that both the government and the state had failed him had failed Emmett. He told us that day (after the trial was over) that we had to leave Mississippi. We sold what we could, gave the rest away and left. We even had to leave our dog. That is my history and its painful. But today I realize that it is part of me. I remember being taught in school that if we dont enforce the law, we will have lawlessness. I want to see the laws of Mississippi enforced. And I also want young people to understand, whether it is under Jim Crow in America or apartheid in South Africa, not all whites are bad people. They arent low down and dirty. Most back then were just afraid to speak out and didnt want to get involved. Im not sure if that has really changed so much 50 years later. By D. Kevin McNeirkmcneir@miamitimesonline.com