Essay | The Personal Impact of Reviewing the Film, “Till”

Paris Bird Soaring freely - a symbol of forgiveness

Humanity: Next Steps Galvanizing For Justice

Eighty-five percent of the world’s population lives in collectivist cultures in which people place great emphasis on harmony and honoring others, contrasted to succumbing to the politics that feed and sustain divisiveness and gravitate largely to support self-centeredness, even self-righteousness. When one of ours is lost we all lose.

Loving connection is a boundless space that defies any distance. The mother of Emmett Till, Mamie’s anger and her devotion to her son propel her decisions, yet not in a vengeful tone. She is actively angry when it serves as she remains clear, grounded and grows. Mamie’s growth and courage are a win for humanity.

‘The past is just a goodbye’, and history is supposed to be useful from which to learn and generate improvement. I heart-fully recommend before history is cancelled, and books are burned, or locked away and films are banned or destroyed, that everyone: 1) at least see the film, Till, which I reviewed earlier on Culture Honey 2) pay close attention to feel the details of being human 3) what if you were in Emmett’s mother’s shoes? And then each person one-by-one, reaching inward to explore experiences and etch the exemplar unintended consequences of this modern-day parable, based on a horrible true story, into every moment of consciousness?

Further, 1) begin life anew, and advance with a self-commitment to build and support all humans to develop new behavioral capacities and be role models for others 3) witness the spread of unifying miracles to choose and advance life with what is wanted and what is harmonious for the greater good. The power of collective consciousness that values love, friendship, and community simply honors fellow members for their individuality; and therein #People, LET PEOPLE BE; to target sectors of already marginalized members in itself is heinous and barbaric.#STOP. Excessive violence by authorities is against the law, the law is intended to uphold the appropriate principles of a justice system in a civilized collective, i.e. humanity in which differences are crafted by the people and for the people – all unique and each a sovereign being.

If there is a moral to this barbaric and tragic violation of human dignity and sovereignty, it only can be a choice.  

“Which wolf do you feed?” The trauma of loss touches everyone,  it takes shape as grieving: the emotional onslaught of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance of guilt, an upward turn, and reconstruction. This complex process is different as each individual must include forgiveness. The Cherokee legend is quoted here for our consideration:


One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other wolf is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, ‘Grandpa, which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one that you feed.’


Forward motion and new capacities germinate. At any stage, be it anger and determination, or the resolution of guilt. Forgiveness fuels the flame of truth through growth and allows one to turn the page as is said. To remain in self-destructive states or even useless states is perhaps another step, yet one must recognize and claim the own power of choice to do so.

Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr. — Emmett’s cousin, best friend, and the sole surviving eyewitness to the events — “recounts his way from those world-shattering days to current events, and he recalls how his own understanding of forgiveness has evolved and changed as he’s worked to pursue justice not just for Emmett, but for all marginalized people.”

Forgiveness does not mean to condone the unacceptable nor ignore it or to keep oneself anywhere near those offending situations or people. On the contrary, forgiving and letting go frees one’s spirit to become at minimum aware of life-affirming actions or contributions larger than self.

Forgiveness means to free oneself. To claim the power of personal choice to take control – to feel and to let go of the domination of resentment, bitterness, even hatred – frequently associated with certain states or behaviors, peoples, experiences or situations. I’ve really had to practice this. I was born a humanitarian, I hated oppression even as a small child. Hate never is healthy.

The choice to advance one’s focus on something greater in the name of/or towards good can be stronger than permitting oneself to decline into the powerlessness and self-destruction of bitterness, resentment, or wishes to avenge the actions of offending people or situations – past or current.

One’s power can generate forward movement that certainly serves self-growth, and potentially improve the sense of greater good as well. Personal success is the greatest prize to avenge.

Forgiveness – this is what Mamie chose. She is rightfully remembered and held in heroine stature.

This event shocked the entire world. And yet, the wrongful taking of life has become a common occurrence, in horrible mass killings in the U.S., as well as intentional, state-sponsored shootings. Is not each one of us within the range of eighty-five percent of people whose heart prefers harmony and honoring of our fellow creatures? We must keep going, no worries there is plenty of diversity in the world, and even if there is a shift in the 15 percent; richness in diversity will prevail!

Reactions in Posterity …Then and Now

Aimé Césaire dedicated a poem to the memory of Emmett Till in his collection “Ferrements,”1960.

Senegalese poet David Diop dedicated a poem to Emmett Till in his collection Coups de Pilon. In 1962, Bob Dylan wrote a song called “The Death of Emmett Till”, which Joan Baez covered in 1963. In 2005, Marilyn Nelson published A Wreath for Emmett Till, a collection of 15 sonnets illustrated by Philippe Lardy (Graphia, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Boston-New York, ISBN 978-0-618-39752-5). Alban Lefranc’s novel Le Ring Invisible, a biographical fiction about Mohamed Ali, describes Emmet Till as a key figure in the boxer’s story. Richard Powers devotes much of chapter 10 of his book ‘Le Temps où nous ‘chantions (10/18) to the story of Emmet Till.

The character of Tom Robinson in Don’t Shoot the Mockingbird, published in 1960, and in its 1962 film adaptation Silence and Shadows, is partly inspired by Emmett Till’s story.

The case is also evoked in several American songs. Rapper Kanye West quotes Emmet Till in his song “Through the Wire”. In 2011, Emmylou Harris released the song “My Name Is Emmett Till” on her album Hard Bargain, and in 2015 American Melody Gardot sang “Preacherman”. Eric Bibb dedicated to him “Emmet’s Ghost” on his album Dear America, released in 2021.

In August 2005, a portion of Highway 49 near the area of the murder was renamed in memory of Emmett Till. In February 2005, the Chicago elementary school where Till had been a student was renamed in his memory. Emmett Till’s story is also told in Angie Thomas’s novel, The Hate U Give.

It was only in 2022 that the US federal law banning lynching was named the Emmett Till Antilynching Act, in memory of the teenager.

Finally, in speaking of the law, murder is against the law. Lynching is murder.

Clearly, it is fundamental that each person must be one’s own self – make one’s own choices, and feed one’s inner wolf to support one’s own belief system: I am not moralizing, I express my own strong opinion for once, and give a ‘vote’ for a kinder, gentler and more joyful humanity focused on true equality and functional justice.

May you each live your own choices in being your best self and keep well!