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Thursday, June 19, 2014 12:01 am

Letters to the Editor 6/19/14

Simeon Wright, cousin of Emmett Till, is scheduled to speak in Decatur June 20.


I wish we never knew the name Emmett Till. But it will be forever emblazoned in our nation’s history because as a 14-year-old young man, Till was pulled out of his bed in the middle of the night in Money, Mississippi, brutally tortured, beaten, killed and dumped in the Tallahatchie River with a 70-pound cotton gin fan tied to his neck.

His offense: He was an African-American from Chicago who allegedly whistled at a pretty white woman who with her husband owned the town’s grocery and meat market in 1955. Till had been visiting his cousins in the Mississippi Delta that summer.

Rarely do we get to hear history from a firsthand account. But Friday evening is one of those rare occasions when we will get to learn what happened to Till 59 years ago from his cousin Simeon Wright, who was right there with Till at Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market, and was actually sleeping in the same bed with Emmett when he was pulled from it to his brutal death by the woman’s husband and his half brother.

Wright will speak Friday, June 20, at 6:30 p.m. at the annual dinner for Decatur’s African-American History Museum at the Heartland Grand Palace, 3253 Brush College Rd., Decatur. Tickets are $50 or $25 for students. For more information: www.african-americancultural.org or 429-7458.

Wright will undoubtedly tell us how Till’s courageous mother and his aunt, Mamie Till Bradley, insisted on a public funeral with an open casket so the whole world would see the utter brutality. This act, the acquittal of the two perpetrators and their later admission to the murder in Look Magazine, woke up many people to the bitter racial hatred that existed in our country. Many attribute this tragedy and its aftermath to be a spark that helped ignited the modern civil rights movement.

Sam Cahnman

In his June 12 opinion piece, “Diverse faith groups talk about race,” Mike Lang says “It has long been said that 10 a.m. Sunday morning, when many worship services begin, is the most segregated hour of the week.” I think perhaps Mr. Lang is attending the wrong church. Most people attend a church close to home; when I lived on Seventh Street I attended the Methodist Church there, and there was diversity galore. When I lived two houses from the Harvard Park Baptist Church, I attended there, and it too, was diverse – but the neighborhoods they were in had a diverse population.

I’ve been driving all the way out to West Side Christian for its great preachers and bands, and even being in the middle of “rich Whiteville,” it too has a diverse congregation and musicians, and occasionally has a black preacher as well. I have attended church with black friends in their neighborhoods, and never felt unwelcome.

Racism is a tool of the rich to keep the poor at each other’s throats and their minds away from the people who caused their poverty in the first place. And as I say in my book The Paxil Diaries: Want to end racism? – Act like a human being. And that goes for all of us no matter what our race. Because face it, jerks come in all shapes, sizes and colors, as do caring, friendly people.

Steve McGrew

Economics must drive the strategic management of energy. People want the affordable energy that is provided by coal, natural gas and nuclear power.

Solar and wind are not viable sources of high-volume, low-price energy, and all indications are that they never will be. People also want jobs, and shutting down power plants isn’t creating jobs. We need to come to our senses before it is too late to turn back.

Jim Proffitt

Editor’s Note: Read our June 12 cover story on energy, “The future of power: Electricity may soon get cleaner … and a lot more expensive,” by Patrick Yeagle. The article can be found at illinoistimes.com under the tab Features/Cover Stories.

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