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 endures until the end.
Wanda F. Baker