Reflections


Dear Mr. Booker, As I sit looking at a picture of an attentive, well-dressed young male black journalist at the Emmett Till murder trial, I was filled with pride and appreciation for your 51 years of dedication and service to the field of journalism during a painful time in our country’s history. Your articles uncovered and exposed America to a world of hatred, discrimination and murders. It took great courage. The instructor of our
Composition I class knew
of your legacy and ties
to Youngstown College
and our community and
believed that yours was a
story that we needed to read
and discuss. I was shocked
to learn about the denial
of activity cards to black
students, which would allow them to participate in social functions on campus. I can only imagine the loneliness, degradation and separation that would drive you to move and attend another university. When I walk across the campus of Youngstown State University taking pictures, I will be reminded that I enjoy these privileges because of courageous people who paved the way. The next time I attend meetings on campus, I will remember that it is because I stand on the shoulders of those like you who blazed a trail before me. I started reading our assignment, regarding the murder of Emmett Till in Mississippi; it gave me insight into your character. In each of our lives, we know some rain must fall, but you were not only in a downpour, but in the middle of a storm. When a storm is approaching, we are taught to take cover and be still, but you were like the palm tree whose branches touch the ground bending from side to side, but after the storm, you stood tall and straight. As a wife, mother, grandmother, daughter and sister, I know the terror and nights of interrupted sleep your wife, Carol, endured. I thank her for the selfless sacrifices she made. Mr. Booker, I want to thank you for being the armor bearer for Mrs. Till at a time when she had no other help. Unfortunately, like Mrs. Till, I know the heartache and pain of losing a child violently, but I cannot imagine my child being beaten, tortured and murdered beyond recognition. I looked at the face of Emmett Till, the 14 year-old boy, beaten unrecognizably after seeing the picture of him taken weeks earlier. I have to thank Mrs. Till for sharing, demanding that the world see what Mississippi had done to her child. Again, Mr. Booker, thank you for your tireless reporting of stories and articles I had never heard. The race is not given to the swift nor the strong, but to he who...

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Dear Mr. Booker, Your life story has educated, moved and inspired me. After researching your respected efforts to expose racism in this country, I have reached an important crossroad in my life: I am going to stand up for what I believe in despite the opinions of others. As long as I can remember, I have known of the existence of racial discrimination in this country. I learned about Martin Luther King Jr. in grade school, and tried to imagine, with little success, how difficult his struggle. Not until I learned of your story, though, has this issue really hit home for me. I believe this is because much of your time working was spent right here in my hometown, so I can better relate. I have grown up with two
racist parents. They never
directly told me to dislike
people based on their race, it
was done more so in passing.
They would make comments
such as, “Oh, was he black?”
and “Yah, that’s how ‘they’
are.” Deep inside, I have
always known that way of
thinking about people was
wrong. It wasn’t until my high
school years that I became
brave enough to stand up to
them. I would tell my dad not to say things like that around me. He would get mad at me. When I told my mother that she is ignorant to judge someone based on race, she would ignore me and have no reply. After graduating high school, I attended a technical school where I became involved with some friends whose beliefs are different than mine. It struck me as odd how they went about their lives going to church and calling themselves Catholics, yet they would exchange racist jokes regularly. I questioned how someone who is supposed to stand for love and forgiveness is capable of such hate. When I brought up my concerns, they said, “I’m not racist. I have black friends,” and “We’re just kidding. Relax.” I noticed they subtly began to alienate me. Although I knew there was some racism in each of them, I mistakenly gave in to peer pressure and learned to look the other way when I heard their cruel words. Now, as I begin a new path of obtaining a college degree, I can already see major changes within myself. I am more set in my own beliefs because I’ve learned how to gather knowledge, opinions and experiences from other people and form my own opinions. My racist “friends” are beginning to fade from my life, my parents are learning to keep their ignorant opinions to themselves and I’m starting to surround myself with open-minded, educated freethinkers. My choice to grow as a person by being true to...

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