Emmett Till Family Questions Improvement In Race Relations: ‘Who Are They Asking? The Bigots?’

Source: Noah Rothman / Mediaite

In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was tortured and murdered by white Mississippi men for the imagined crime of “flirting with a white woman.” His killers were acquitted but later bragged about their involvement in that crime. Nearly 60 years later, parallels are being drawn between that crime and the killing of Trayvon Martin. Friday on MSNBC, the surviving members of Till’s family lashed out at the notion that race relations had measurably improved in the 50 years that had passed since the civil rights movement’s march on Washington, D.C.

MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin read from the results of a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll which recently asked Americans for their thoughts on how much race relations had improved in the United States. In that poll 54 percent of adults agreed that more people in America are “judged not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” That included 59 percent of whites and 54 percent of Hispanics. However, only 19 percent of African-Americans agreed with this statement.

Till’s cousin, Ollie Gordon, explained this by observing that African-Americans experience racism more than other groups. “You are still looked at and viewed and judged by the color of your skin in the black community,” Gordon said. “As when you go into apply for a job, when you go into stores, you’re still kind of looked at suspiciously.”

Simeon Wright, another cousin of Till’s, expressed his frustration over the poll’s results, saying that they never asked him for his opinion. “Who are they asking? The bigots?” Wright said.

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