In 2022 and beyond, “What happens to any of us…had better be the business of all of us.”

by Tanesha Peeples
women of the movement
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If you haven’t been watching Women of the Movement, you have to get in tune immediately because Mamie Till-Mobley dropped a word that all Black people need to fold up and put in their pocketbook.

Before I get into the word,  I have to acknowledge the struggle.

Initially, I wrestled with the decision to watch this series because living in today’s environment of oppression and hatred against Black people is three lifetimes of trauma in itself. So watching what I consider to be one of the worst crimes committed against one of us through primetime tv was signing up for trauma porn. However, as a Black history groupie, I can never get enough of our stories.

Women of the Movement begins with the recount of the heinous murder of Chicago teen, Emmett Till. While visiting his family in Money Mississippi the summer of 1955, Emmett was accused of whistling at at a white woman and as a result of white rage,  brutally murdered by the woman’s husband and and his brother, Roy and J.W. Bryant.

emmet till abc

This image released by ABC shows Cedric Joe as Emmett Till, left, and Adrienne Warren as Mamie Till-Mobley in “Women of the Movement.” (Matt Sayles. ABC via AP)

The famous words of a courageous woman

The series highlights Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Till,  and her  heroism in the name of love and justice for her son and start in activism. Because authorities tried to cover the murder up and there was a chance his killers could go free, Mamie fought for his body to be shipped back to Chicago where she held an open casket funeral for people to witness the evil of the south.

In the time Mrs. Till awaited the start of trial, she gave several public speeches–one in which she said the infamous line, “What happens to any of us, anywhere in the world, had better be the business of all of us.”

Pause, let that sink in and ask yourself if you’re living up to Mrs. Till’s word. And this reflection isn’t just for Black people–it’s also for people that call themselves allies.

Now, if you hesitate to answer that question, the answer is probably no. So ask yourself next, “What can I be doing to live up to this call to action?”

This is where it gets tricky because many of us think that activism is limited to standing on the frontlines of some massive public protest with media presence, but that’s not true. The truth of the matter is, everyone has a voice and the ability to advocate in their preferred lane because all of them are gridlocked with injustice, inequality and inequity.

Emmett Till (left); Mamie Till-Mobley (Right)

Emmett Till (left); Mamie Till-Mobley (Right). “Women of the Movement” has brought new life to their tragic story.

Elevate your voice for the voiceless

Right now there are elected officials in office who have no interest in representing the greater good of all the people. Some of them are even perpetuating voting disenfranchisement through restricting access through gerrymandering and pushing legislation that targets historically marginalized communities. Make it your business to vote and remove those people from office.

There are Black, Brown, poor and special needs students sitting in schools and suffering from biased policies and practices, resource inequities and staff that doesn’t care about the quality of their education. Make it your business to run for school board, participate in school councils and local governance. Make it your business to advocate for their genius and potential.

And last but not least, there are Emmett Tills being murdered in the streets by police and others that are dying slow deaths due to homelessness, incarceration, lack of access to healthcare, mental health services and other societal deficits because they’ve been discarded. Elevate your voice for the voiceless.

In that same public address, right before she dropped that simple but profound word, Mamie Till admitted that she wasn’t an activist until she had to become an activist. Don’t wait until injustice touches you to become a “person of the movement” because, as Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” And with that fact in heart and mind, make injustice your business in 2022 and beyond.

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