A Wreath for Emmett Till
A Wreath for Emmett Till by Marilyn Nelson and Philippe Lardy
In 1955, people all over the United States knew that Emmett Louis Till was a fourteen-year-old African American boy lynched for supposedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. The brutality of his murder, the open-casket funeral, and the acquittal of the men tried for the crime drew wide media attention. Award-winning poet Marilyn Nelson reminds us of the boy whose fate helped spark the civil rights movement. This martyr's wreath, woven from a little-known but sophisticated form of poetry, challenges us to speak out against modern-day injustices, to "speak what we see."
A Mother's Love
A Mothers Love
A Mother's Love,
Curves around the skin of a child,
Tangles in their hair,
Holds their hand when they leave your side,
Prayers sent up for protection,
What do you do when your child is gone?
What would you do when your child is gone?
Would you have the strength to stand up?
Bruised and battered,
A wake up call,
To a nation tangled in fear and hate,
I cry for the mother who must bury her child.
The mother who must bury her child,
Feels grief like a knife,
Cradles it like a newborn baby,
Wears it like a threadbare dress,
Carries it on her bowed shoulders,
Uses it as lamplight on a nation under seige.
A light on the seige that enveloped a nation,
An ugliness that still stains,
The cast of characters ever shifting,
We rage against a nameless enemy,
All we are looking for,
Is a mother's love.
Hatred can come in all shapes and sizes, from a snide comment to an act of incredible violence, like what is described in "A Wreath for Emmett Till". Have you ever witnessed an act of injustice or hatred? What did you do or would have liked to have done? There are many instances of discrimination that still exist in our world today. What can we do to help right these wrongs?
By looking at this collage we can see that acts of violence, hatred, and corruption seem to prevail throughout our world. These elements have been a part of our past history and are inescapable. Spend some time analyzing this collage; after doing so you may realize gang violence, hatred, and racist acts exist in your own life. Where and when have you witnessed these devastating acts? What caused these events? How do these events accumulate hatred in our world leading to war?