New developments in the lynching of a black teen back in the 1950’s are prompting the family of Emmett Till to reflect on a painful chapter in history. Recently, one of Till’s cousins visited the Valley. Dorothy Parker-Jarrett says her cousin’s lynching along with Rosa Parks’s refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger in Alabama sparked the civil rights movement. More than 60 years later, she says America still has a lot to learn.
“It’s 1955 all over again,” Parker-Jarrett said.
Parker-Jarrett says modern society mirrors much of Jim Crow society. Her first cousin Emmett Till was lynched amid rape accusations in 1955. It took his accuser more than half a century to recant her claims.
“I can only imagine the burden that she’s carried all these years knowing that she lied,” Parker-Jarrett said about Carolyn Bryant, who brought claims against Till more than 60 years ago.
Parker-Jarrett says routine lynchings and other slights against minorities finally came to a boiling point on December 1, 1955.
“It wasn’t that [Rosa Parks] was tired from working as a seamstress all day,” Till’s cousin explained. “She was tired of the injustices.”
Parker-Jarrett says the Montgomery bus boycott was the catalyst of the civil rights movement. She proposes that society today should take notice of the past’s non-violent approach.
“The only way we’ll see any real change is through us all coming from a place of love, loving one another,” Parker-Jarrett said.
As a school principal, Parker-Jarrett also advocates change through education.
“It is imperative that we work as a country together to improve the public education system,” Parker-Jarrett said. “Because let’s face it. Over 90% of children are educated in the public school system.”
She believes many young people ignore some of the important lessons about history — lessons that could keep them from repeating a tragic past.
“Our history is rich, and I want the young people to be proud of their history everyday, not just the month of February.”