Students repair civil rights memorial with handwriting

Let’s hit the “kids today, eh?” collection.

Two dozen high school students, traveling the country learning about civil rights, stopped at the Emmett Till memorial in Money, Miss., last week only to find it vandalized. Again.

Till was kidnapped and lynched in 1955 after “offending” a white woman in a grocery store. His killers were acquitted and his mother held an open casket funeral to show the world what can happen to a black person in America.

The students who arrived at the memorial are affiliated with Cultural Leadership, a St. Louis based organization that trains the next generation of civil rights leaders.

“All of us were really quiet, staring, wondering what can we do,” Camille Denton, 17, one of the students, tells the Washington Post.

The damage made it appear that “people were trying to get rid of a history that people need to know,” said Josh Hagene, 17.

What would future leaders do?


They “repaired” the sign with handwritten notes.

“For me it was kind of like a moment of realizing that I didn’t have to just walk away,” Denton told the Post. “We all could have gotten on the bus and kept going to our next destination instead of actually fighting back.”

After they fought back, they got on the bus and headed for Little Rock.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation said it’ll fix the memorial as soon as possible.

  • AL287

    You can’t rewrite history although we have been trying mightily over the last year to do just that (removal of Confederate monuments in New Orleans and others).

    The importance of the post is to remind us to prevent history from repeating itself.

    These latest acts of vandalism seem to suggest some of us would rather live in the past.

    • Our history is our history. It can’t be rewritten. We can only change what we consider what history is worth honoring. Looking at you, Mr. Calhoun.

      • MikeB

        Saw this quote the other day, hits home a bit too much

        “We learn from history that we do not learn from history.”
        ― Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

    • BJ

      Removal of confederate monuments didn’t rewrite history, most of those monuments tried to do just that by being erected in the first place.

      I suggest anyone that thinks otherwise read Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s speech on the removal of the last 4 confederate monuments in New Orleans, it does a pretty good job of covering the history of the monuments and what that ‘history’ was really about. The Atlantic has it in full I think –

    • lindblomeagles

      Everybody that has written is right. History can’t be rewritten. And yes, a lot of people have been trying to rewrite history lately, including the legacy of the nation’s first African American President (you folks know exactly who you are). And yes, as BJ mentioned, Confederate leaders on and off the battlefield were monumented (I made this word up) to honor “slavery,” not to tell history. The truth is the South will always be linked to Jim Crow, lynching, and African Slavery because they fought for these things everyway they could from 1618 (the day African slaves first arrived) to 1965. And Mississippians placed themselves ON THE FRONT LINES OF THAT FIGHT when it seceded first from the Union in 1860, when three civil rights’ workers mysteriously disappeared in the 1960s, when it opposed school integration forcing President Kennedy to send in the National Guard, and when Emmitt Till was murdered. Tough to honor 346 years of cruelty (167 years for the State of Mississippi, 1817 – 1965), and even tougher still to rewrite that history.

  • Jack

    I highly recommend the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, NC. They do an excellent job of discussing the past and current state in the U.S. It’s a guided tour. I think I learned more from other tour participants who recounted how it was to grow up African American in the South. It was important for this Caucasian to hear their experiences.

    Kudos also to my NC colleague who told us about growing up in a mixed race household and how he is viewed by the various communities. It was truly a humbling experience.