Yesterday would have been Emmett Till’s 77 birthday. He was beaten and killed at fourteen years old. His mother wanted the world to see his body after death so the lid of his casket remained open. Here is a link to his story. Last night our poetry class sponsored a reading at Sacred Heart Church. I read this poem in honor of Emmett’s birthday. His death is on the long road of the Civil Rights movement. His case is now being opened up again. Wikipedia.
Dear Mister Emmett Till
Dear Mister Emmett Till,
Our souls met
After you left your beaten body
Ascending the ladder home
My soul descending
Waiting for my skin.
Your body died three months
Before I was born in 1955.
Our eyes met along the way
I witnessed the pain of your Momma.
When we met without skin
I felt your sadness
As we passed and I knew you were
Trying to tell me something.
Our souls akin exchanged a message
From heaven that we should look
Beyond the colors of our skin
So beatings and killings and shootings
Will never happen because of race or political power.
If you made a mistake with Misses Bryant
You never deserved a beating beyond recognition.
I am so sorry.
I thank your strong Momma
She kept your casket lid open so we could all see
Your black skin ravaged and disfigured
The pain of raising a black body here
In our country of the not so free.
Only A Powerless Black Mother
With great faith could lift high
Her son beaten and ravaged
By ignorance and violence.
I hope on my way home
Mercy and forgiveness have bathed your soul
Where we shall meet singing
And feel without skin
The beauty of our lives.