By way of contextualizing the anger that underlies Reverend Wright's recent controversial remarks -- anger that many white Americans seem to find unfathomable -- Hilzoy points out that Jeremiah Wright was born in 1941 -- the same year as Emmett Till.
I also second Hizoy's recommendation here:
To see a photo of what remained of [Till's] face -- and photos like this were printed in Jet and circulated around the world -- click here. It's not pleasant to look at, but if you haven't seen it before, you should steel yourself and try.
I had not seen this photo before.
Hilzoy goes on to say:
The murder of Emmett Till was not particularly unusual. Neither was the fact that the killers, though known to their community, were not brought to justice. (The jury deliberated for 67 minutes; one juror said that "they wouldn't have taken so long if they hadn't stopped to drink pop.") What made it unusual was the actions of Till's family: his mother's decision to have an open casket funeral, and his uncle's decision to testify against his killers in court.
Jeremiah Wright was fourteen when Till was killed. Though he did not live in the South, Jim Crow was in full force there until his early twenties. He was twenty one when George Wallace called for "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever." He was a few days shy of twenty two when a bomb went off in a Birmingham church, killing four young girls who were at Sunday School, about a month shy of twenty three when Lyndon Johnson finally signed the Civil Rights Act, and almost twenty four when Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.
By the time our country got around to guaranteeing voting rights for blacks, Jeremiah Wright had served his country in the Marine Corps for three years, and in the Navy for two more.
One more date, both because it is itself outrageous and because it is something to bear in mind if you should happen to wonder why someone like Rev. Wright might believe that our government caused HIV: when the Tuskegee Study ended in 1972, Rev. Wright was thirty one years old.
David Adler comments on Wright, Obama's Philadelphia speech, and the jazz blogosphere's reaction.