Interview with Robin Kelley: Anger Transformed
Transcript: Emmett Till, in some ways, gave ordinary black people in a place like Montgomery not just courage, but I think instilled them with a sense of anger, and that anger at white supremacy, and not just white supremacy, but the decision of the court to exonerate these men from murdering -- for outright lynching this young kid -- that level of anger, I think, led a lot of people to commit themselves to the movement. And Montgomery felt the reverberations of that just like Little Rock, Arkansas, two years later.
And I think that that anger was somehow transformed into social movement and, ironically, into love. And what I mean by that is into love for the people who they're trying to defend and love for a nation that had for so long oppressed them, but they felt was transformable. They felt that as black people involved in the movement, that Emmett Till's body was sacrificed in some ways, that George Lee's body was sacrificed, that many of the activists who were murdered were sacrificed for the sake of saving the country, redeeming this nation. And I think that's why, you think of something like the non-violence philosophy of the civil rights movement as directly related to the violence meted out on people like Emmett Till.
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