On August 28, 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was savagely beaten and shot through the head in Money, Mississippi, all for the crime of speaking to a 21-year-old white woman. After a widely covered trial, his murderers were acquitted – leading to national indignation and helping to catalyze the civil rights movement.
Though the specifics of each case are vastly different, it’s easy to compare Till’s murder and its aftermath to the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. Oprah Winfrey did that very thing this morning in a brief clip shown on Today, calling the killings “parallel” – and adding, “In my mind, [they’re the] same thing.”
At the same time, Winfrey – who stars in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, a film set partially during the height of the civil rights movement – was careful to say that those outraged by Martin’s death and George Zimmerman being found not guilty shouldn’t dwell in the past. “You can get stuck in that,” she said, “and not allow yourself to move forward and to see how far we’ve come.”