Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Wreath for Emmett Till

A Wreath for Emmett Till, a Printz Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book, is comprised of  a "crown of sonnets" by poet Marilyn Nelson. In such a collection,  the last line of one becomes the first line of the next.  With each sonnet, the story of Emmett Till is told, and the sadness and horror of the lynching of this fourteen year-old in 1955 is evoked.

The poem entitled Pierced by the screams of a shortened childhood ends with these lines:

A running boy, five men in close pursuit./ One dark, five pale faces in the moonlight./ Noise, silence, back-slaps. One match, five cigars./ Emmett Till's name still catches in the throat. 

It seemed impossible for me not to add this book to my list of books concerning children's health after hearing about the murder days ago of seventeen year-old Trayvon Martin. Like Emmett Till, he too was a "running boy," innocent and scared. He was stalked by one man filled with hate, a man who happened to be carrying a loaded gun.

It is an unspeakable insult and outrage to our entire nation, not only that this can occur in 2012 in America, but that a man can commit such a crime, be protected by Florida law, never arrested or have his gun taken away!

My last post was on a book entitled The Declaration of Interdependence by Janet Wong and how children depend on adults to vote and otherwise be their voice in the political process.

Emmett Till had no justice. His mother's voice unheard. The men who murdered him were acquitted. Will there be justice for Trayvon Martin for a similarly motivated crime almost sixty years later? A local government leader in Sanford Florida told Andrea Mitchell today on MSNBC that the town administration was being careful not to rush to judgment. How ironic.

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