A Modern Version of the Emmett Till Case, Dissected



♦️ Pub: Apr 8, 2019 | Updated: Apr 23, 2019 @ | Reading: 2 min. | Words: 374 ♦️
1955: Emmett Till, lynched at 14. 1989: The Central Park Five unleashed reportage echoing the Jim Crow era. Three common threads: white female victim, accused back male youth, actual innocence. Ken Burns schools us.

Emmett Till

The 1955 lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till, culminating in his open casket, galvanized the Civil Rights movement. As Rosa Parks explained:

I thought about Emmett Till, and I couldn’t go back to [the back of the bus].

But the Emmett Till horror story presaged the modern polished lynchings sanctioned by the criminal justice system.


The Central Park Five

A system reflects its parts
A system reflects its parts

Filmmakers Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon examine a 1989 case of five Black teenagers who were wrongfully convicted of raping a white woman. “Wilding,” a shorthand reference to Black kids acting like an animalistic wolf pack, littered headlines nationwide. 1989 reportage language paid homage to words typifying the purported bygone Jim Crow era. Some road the case to public relations glory, among them, one now ensconced in the world’s foremost seat of power.
The Central Park Five spent from six to 13 years in prison, exonerated only when a serial rapist confessed to the crime. DNA evidence absolutely proved the actual innocence of the kids as regards the crime, while exposing the foul underbelly of criminal confessions adored only by the ill-informed.

The case will soon muscle its return to the forefront of the nation’s consciousness. Commissioned by NetFlix, the brilliant Ava DuVernay is writing a multi-part series about the debacle. With an all-star cast now on the scene, the series will debut later this year.

The documentary aired on local PBS stations. Give the abysmal wreck masquerading as the official PBS (iOS) streaming app, I refuse to recommend it. At least one station currently offers a free no-fuss stream.


QNLink3   SourceThe Central Park Five
1h 59m 19s
Free stream ends Good Friday, April 19, 2019

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