The US has just celebrated Martin Luther King Jr. day; here's an appropriate guest poem sent in by Rohit Grover
(Poem #1151) The Death of Emmett Till
'Twas down in Mississippi not so long ago, When a young boy from Chicago walked through a Southern door. This boy's fateful tragedy you should all remember well, The color of his skin was black and his name was Emmett Till. Some men they dragged him to a barn and there they beat him up. They said they had a reason, but I disremember what. They tortured him and did some things too evil to repeat. There was screamin' sounds inside the barn, there was laughin' sounds out on the street. Then they rolled his body down a gulf amidst a blood red rain And they threw him in the waters wide to cease his screamin' pain. The reason that they killed him there, and I'm sure it was no lie, Was just for the fun of killing him and to watch him slowly die. And then to stop the United States of yelling for a trial, Two brothers they confessed that they had killed poor Emmett Till. But on the jury there were men who helped the brothers commit this awful crime, And so this trial was a mockery, but nobody seemed to mind. I saw the mornin' papers but I could not bear To see the smiling brothers walking down the courthouse stairs. For the jury found them innocent and the brothers they went free, While Emmett's body floats the foam of a Jim Crow southern sea. If you can't speak out against this kind of thing, a crime that's so unjust, Your eyes are filled with dead men's dirt, your mind is filled with dust. Your arms and legs they must be in shackles and chains, and your blood it must refuse to flow, For you'd let this human race fall down so God-awful low! This song is just a reminder to remind your fellow man That this kind of thing still lives today in that ghost-robed Ku Klux Klan. But if all of us folks that thinks alike, if we give all we could give, We'd make this great land of ours a greater place to live.
I just watched a PBS documentary on the death of Emmett Till. Emmett Till's death sparked off the civil rights movement in the US. He was lynched for whistling at a white woman, and the (white) killers were later acquitted by an all-white jury in Mississippi. What made my blood boil was that the killers *confessed* after being acquitted, but the case was not reopened. Why does this bother me? Those not from India should read Rohinton Mistry's 'A Fine Balance' - there's a disturbing parallel in the Indian caste system. My generation has grown up with the mantra of no casteism, secularism and so on. But then I pick up a newspaper (or visit the website here) and read about Dalit's being lynched, or raped. And it's not just villages - even in cities like Mumbai caste becomes all-important. Among people from my generation - engineers, doctors - well-educated, seemingly scientific people. Bob Dylan's song captures the frustration so well - and does so beautifully. The few people who took the witness stand in the Emmett Till case in support of the prosecution were brave beyond belief. -rohit [Martin adds] An appropriate companion piece is Phil Ochs's "Too Many Martyrs": http://www.cs.pdx.edu/~trent/ochs/lyrics/too_many_martyrs.html And here's Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech: http://bcn.boulder.co.us/government/national/speeches/spch3.html