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Voices of Shame

<i> from Associated Press</i>

Some of the many memorable comments about the 1955 killing of 14-year-old Emmett Till:

“Before Emmett Till’s murder, I had known the fear of hunger, hell, and the devil. But now there was a new fear known to me--the fear of being killed just because I was black.”

--Civil rights activist Anne Moody in her 1968 book, “Coming of Age in Mississippi”

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“Perhaps the purpose of this sorry and tragic error committed in my native Mississippi by two white adults on an afflicted Negro child is to prove to us whether or not we deserve to survive. Because if we in America have reached that point in our desperate culture when we must murder children, no matter for what reason or what color, we don’t deserve to survive, and probably won’t.”

--Author William Faulkner in a 1955 public letter from Rome

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“It was a sad and terrible time. It’s too bad to have to say that sometimes it takes those kinds of things to help a people become stronger and to eliminate the fear, that they have to speak out and do something.”

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--Myrlie Evers-Williams now head of the NAACP, interviewed for the 1986 television series and book, “Eyes on the Prize”

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“One teen-ager violated the crucial feature of the code noir in that particular locale--a state that seemed for so long to be afflicted with shivers of irrepressible guilt and within the most implacable curses. The consequences of that violation were therefore lethal, and its overtones reverberant. That is why the story of Emmett Till did not end with his death.”

--Brandeis University professor Stephen J. Whitfield in his 1988 book, “A Death in the Delta”


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