Burning Spear News
Remembering Emmett Till
InPDUM President Herdosia Bentum at left with Sharon Cooper (Sandra Bland's sister) and Toni Taylor, mother of police assassinated Cary Ball
CHICAGO—During the weekend of August 28-31, activists, family and friends of the Till family gathered in Chicago, IL to commemorate the 60th anniversary of 14-year-old Emmett Till’s murder.
In 1955 Emmett, a native of Chicago, visited his family in Mississippi but never came home. He was said to have whistled at white woman, Carolyn Bryant. He was then kidnapped, tortured and murdered at the hands of her husband and his friends.
Being a good Christian does not make colonialism go away
Herdosia Bentum, a fearless organizer with the International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement (InPDUM) in St. Louis and Toni Taylor, mother of Cary Ball who was killed by police in St. Louis, attended this gathering.
Other families who have lost their children––which included Sandra Bland’s mother and Mike Brown’s father––were also in attendance.
The event had the potential to provide a historical understanding of the significance of Till’s case and relate it to what is happening to African people today.
While it did provide a space for the telling of Till’s story, amidst the modern day lynchings of Africans in the United States, the event failed to help galvanize Africans to action.
Even after the realization that in almost every case the State exonerated the murderers of our loved ones, and the family being told that their children caused their own deaths, there was still no call to action.
Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson’s participation on the third day ensured that the outcome would resolve to voting or prayer.
In fact it was “unsettling to hear the families be asked whether or not they will forgive the killers of their children” says Herdosia,“ and to hear them respond that they will try to forgive so that they can be good Christians.”
Fighting racism not our objective
“How can you tell when you’ve defeated racism?” asked Herdosia from the floor during the panel discussion on day two.
The two hour panel discussed the details surrounding Till’s murder and included a friend and a cousin of Emmett who were in Mississippi during the time when he was killed.
Unfortunately, the panelist incorrectly summed up that the problem was the racism of the old south and it is the youth of today that must end racism.
When there was no answer to her question Herdosia asked the panelist again,“How can you tell when we’ve defeated racism. . .we are not fighting the ideas in the heads of white people, we are fighting a colonial oppression that protects and defends white people at our expense.”
Herdosia added that “there is no way of knowing when we’ve won against racism.” We will know, however, when we’ve overturned our colonizers because we will then have the power to defend ourselves against their attacks.
Going into these spaces, they see me as the enemy
Herdosia spoke from the floor because, contrary to what she had been told, she would not be allowed to speak on the stage.
Organizing in Ferguson and greater St. Louis, Herdosia has met many obstacles as an organizer of the Uhuru Movement. She has been deepening her understanding of African Internationalism and applying it as a way to sum up the struggles of our people, but she has been met with resistance from people who claim that black lives matter.
“Going into this space, they see me as the enemy”says Herdosia, “because their solution promotes integrating into the system, and I tell them even when we become part of the system we still don’t get justice.”
Herdosia continues to persevere and win Africans to the work of building the African revolution. She says it’s a “challenge trying to survive colonialism and keeping focus at the same time she’s helping people come into political life and push the line of the Party.”
If I want to be free, for my kids and everyone else's kids then we need to build
This report ends with Herdosia’s last thoughts.
“I want to bring people into InPDUM because it has the science developed over 40 years by the Uhuru Movement. The goal, as organizers, is to keep the people in front of ourselves.
“I have to become cadre overnight. If I want to be free, for my kids and everyone else's kids, then we need to build. I don't have the luxury of focusing solely on my kids because there is no future under imperialism. I have to do my part to see that there is a future for all African people.”