In 2020, stories about young Black people like Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor—as well as those of adults like George Floyd—spotlit the persistent, terrifying specter of unjust violence and the precarity of Black life in the United States. Their stories roused many in our country to outrage over their murders, and to a collective consciousness about the prevalence of race-based brutality in our day-to-day lives.
But stories like these are not limited to 2020 and the few years that preceded it. They are part of a long strand—one that is entwined through the generations to the very genesis of our country itself. Telling those stories is a crucial part of justice work.
This month marks what would have been the birthday of another young Black person whose murder was woven into our history several decades ago. His name is Emmett Till.