The following poem, by Monroe Human Services major Shaniyah McCloe, won 1st place in the Bronx Writing Contest.
The Voice of Emmett Till
By Shaniyah McCloe
It was 1955, racism and hate still on the rise.
That’s also the reason why I died that day.
Look at me. Reeeally take a look at me.
Look at what hatred did to me;
Kidnapped, tortured and murdered me,
Ripped my whole future away from me.
Yeah, that’s me, age 14.
Beat me so bad, mom couldn’t recognize me.
They had to use my ring on my finger to identify me.
What could I possibly have done to deserve THIS?
Was that dare really worth this?
Sure, I did it on purpose,
But I was kidding, I swear.
It was seriously just an innocent dare.
See, my friends didn’t think that I’d do it.
So, I walked in that store, and did it, just to prove it.
*Catcall-whistle* … I teased, and I left;
Maybe giggled a little bit under my breath,
But I NEVER did those things that white lady said I did…
By the way, my name is Emmett Till;
The little boy two grown men killed.
Made me walk carrying 75 pounds,
Gouged my eyes out after forcing me to strip down.
They beat me nearly to death…
It was soon after that, when I’d take my last breath.
They shot me…
Tied me to cotton gin fan, with barbed wire;
And I was relieved, honestly, because by then, I was tired.
They threw me away in that lake.
As if MY life was invaluable and justified to take;
And I sank to the bottom, cold and alone.
Certain that I would never again get to see home.
So PLEASE.. remember my face. My name’s Emmett Till;
The 14-year-old boy AMERICA killed.
The harmless child AMERICA failed.
The one the “grownups” failed,
And the justice system failed;
But the power of my image will always prevail.
Click here for more information on Emmett Till.