Thursday, June 2, 2005

Making it Right

When I was on my way to work this morning, I overheard on the radio that the authorities in Chicago had exhumed (unearthed) the body of Emmett Till to investigate it further. They want to see exactly what the cause of death was, if anyone else besides the two men who confessed to the crime (who were, by the acquitted) was involved in the murder in any capacity, and if so, they want to bring them up on charged if they’re still alive. Now while I understand that there is no statute of limitations on murder, this happened in 1955. I read a book that Emmett’s mother wrote a couple of years back. It was so moving. She talked about the trials that she went through while she was pregnant with him, how they struggled financially when he was a youngster, and the pain that she has had to deal with since his death. (She’s still alive, by the way). I just don’t know. She seems like she made peace with it years ago. I’m torn over this issue. On one hand, YES, I as a member of this community (the Black community) want closure on one of the most heinous acts in our history. But on the other hand, I have to ask, “What good does it do bring all this up now?” Both of the men who admitted to the crime and got off the hook have passed away. If anyone else was involved, it is likely that they are dead by now or they aren’t too far from it.
This kind of reminds me of the Birmingham 16th St. Church bombing where those four little girls were killed in the 60’s. They re-opened the case in the late 90’s, and of all the people involved in it, only one was still alive. He was tried and convicted, but he was almost 80 years old at the time. He died here (in Alabama) in prison last year. While I felt like there was closure in the situation, I smirked at the whole thing. The man had lived a FULL life free (most people don’t live to see 65, and here he was almost 80) so imprisoning him at that point was only a slap in the face to me. He has committed one of the nastiest crimes in history against my people and now I (with my tax money) have to pay to provide for him until he kicks the bucket. Oh, the irony of it all.
It is my humble opinion that if the government wants to truly make amends and make things right with us, they should re-open the cases of so many of us that are imprisoned right now. Of all of those people there, I’d project that at least 30% of them are either a case of mistaken identity or they didn’t get a fair trial. With DNA technology so readily available, how about my tax dollars go toward giving someone a second chance at life, not waiting until 40-50 years AFTER their dead to try to make it right.