It’s an age that many Americans are still working.
It’s thirteen years less than the average life expectancy in the United States.
Nick Saban, who will coach the Alabama Crimson Tide in Monday’s college football championship game, is four years older.
Legendary New England Patriot head coach Bill Belichick is three years older.
The point? Sixty-six years is not that long ago. But it was only sixty-six years ago, in September of 1955, that an all-white jury found Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam not guilty of Emmett Louis Till’s murder. Till, who was only 14 at the time of his death, was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 after being accused of offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store. Protected against double jeopardy, the two men publicly admitted in a 1956 interview with Look magazine that they had killed Till. During the trial, Sheriff Strider welcomed black spectators coming back from lunch into the courtroom with a cheerful, “Hello, Niggers!” jury members were allowed to drink beer while deliberating. Many white male spectators wore handguns into the courtroom. Emmett Till’s murder only reinforced the notion that you could be subject to violence if you were black, and the law would not protect you. According to Deloris Melton Gresham, whose father was killed a few months after Till, “At that time, they used to say that ‘it’s open season on n*****s.’ Kill ’em and get away with it.” [
Sixty-six years later, on January 7, 2022, Travis McMichael and his father, Gregory McMichael, were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, and William “Roddie” Bryan was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole by Judge Timothy Walmsley in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.
Arbery was only twenty-five when he was “hunted down and shot” for the crime of running in a Georgia neighborhood in 2020. The verdict and sentencing in the lynching of Ahmaud Arbery send a message that rings from sea to shining sea. A message that sixty-six years after Emmett Till America, while still dealing with issues when it comes to race, it is a new dawn; No longer is it open season on African Americans now there will be consequences for your racist and vile actions.
Slowly but surely, the Coalition of the Righteous, a group united regardless of race, religion, gender, economic status, and sexual orientation, is rooting out those with hatred in their heart for anyone who does not look, sound, worship, love, or act like them. As Martin Luther King said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.