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  • Benjamin Saulsberry, Museum Director

Calling for justice


In 1989, the late Mamie Till-Mobley was the keynote speaker at the Dedication of the Civil Rights Memorial in Washington, D.C. During her speech, she took a moment to shed light on where her personal peace has come from—in helping boys and girls reach beyond the ordinary and strive for the extraordinary. At this point, approximately thirty-four years had passed since the murder of her only son, and as the speech indicates, she found a way to not only engage others in what is the most personal of losses one can endure, but over time found a way to inspire and encourage others through service. Such a sentiment stood out for a number of reasons due to my inability to ever have an idea of what it’s like to endure what she had to, but it serves as a constant reminder of the resilience of the human spirit and a made up mind.


To be clear, I hope no one with children ever has to endure the loss of one so precious. By nature and sequence, progeny typically outlive those for whom they come from, but sometimes, and for reasons that are above my understanding, that’s just not the case. And when we consider the days and times in which we find ourselves, black children are murdered and seldom does justice prevail. In 1955, Emmett Till’s murder caught the attention of our nation and to some extent our world, but approximately seven years ago, a 12-year-old child named Tamir Rice was murdered by police and no true recourse followed. He was 12 years old. His entire life ahead of him, and before he was afforded an opportunity to come into his teenage years, he was gunned down by one whose call to duty is “to protect and serve.” Such a thing shouldn’t be the catalyst for people to call for justice and accountability, but when we give an objective purview of patterns concerning this country and society, the haunting call of yesterday is still present today. And as such, our response must be in kind.


By response, I am not calling for the uptaking of arms, nor am I speaking to acts of retaliation. I am speaking to the truth of the matter that culture change is the only way we stand a chance of minimizing the overt acceptance of hate by way of racism. The life of the late Mrs. Mobley stands as a point of record that when faced with the harshest of realities, when life gives way to the worst of itself, when it appears that darkness is winning, we still have a choice. And if we can commit to helping the young and the young at heart strive for the extraordinary, that has lasting implications that benefits all of us for years to come. Such a thing is not without its challenges: tears and fears are sure to accompany such a path along with never fully knowing how things will turn out, but most of the time, and if we’re graced for such a thing, the world around us becomes a little bit better.


Whatever ways and means one can contribute to goodness, I ask that you do so. Search within your heart and commit for the long haul to doing whatever you can to learn, teach, hear and listen, plant and grow, give patience and be patient, because we all are in need of so much. This past week, the home of Mamie Till-Mobley was granted landmark designation, resulting in this structure’s preservation and protection for the foreseeable future with the intent of its owners to convert it into a museum. Long after her departure and almost 67 years after the murder of her child, her name and her efforts are being recognized and acknowledged. May we all do such good in the earth that it speaks for us and to others long after we’ve departed.


Be well and do good.

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