Laquan McDonald and Emmett Till: The REAL Lesson

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A columnist in Chicago recently compared Laquan McDonald to Emmett Till (“Like Emmett Till's before him, Laquan McDonald's death is forcing change,” Mary Schmich, Chicago Tribune). Her point seemed to be that whatever happens in the trial, “there will be changes made.” This is wrong—very wrong. It turns the lessons of the death of Emmett Till upside down.

Yes, some changes were definitely made after the murder of Emmett Till—for millions and millions of people, especially though not only Black people, this outrage burst the dam. People had had enough and they fought for years, went to prison, and shed rivers of blood to make those changes. Some forms of segregation were eliminated, open lynch-mob terror was toned down, and there were other important concessions as well. Hundreds of millions worldwide were influenced and inspired, and tens of millions changed their thinking in fundamental ways.

But, even though this movement took on a revolutionary thrust in the 1960s, we did not make revolution. The capitalist-imperialist system that killed Emmett Till is still here. The white supremacy that is stitched into it with a thousand threads is still here. Segregation in many ways is worse than ever—even if it is “illegal.” Today the killers wear blue instead of white when they do their murders and cook up their cover-ups. Sixty-four years after Emmett Till was lynched and his murderers acquitted, the murders still go on; the murderers still walk free. And now they are preparing to acquit another.

Unless we want to be fighting the same system 64 years from now, unless we want to be defending yet another Black youth who has been unjustly cut down by a system that never gave him or her a chance, we need to be preparing right now to rise up in righteous mass resistance against this system if they free Laquan’s killer, and we need to do this as part of politically preparing for revolution.Yes, Laquan’s death can be part of jolting people awake to the horrors—but only on the basis of fierce struggle that signals to everyone that this will not and cannot be tolerated.

As a crucial and fundamental part of this, we need to be getting into BA—Bob Avakian, the leader of the revolution—and the science and strategy he’s brought forward to defeat and dismantle this system and bring forward a radically new society on the way to real emancipation from all forms of oppression. In this way and only in this way we can have real hope, on a scientific foundation, that these kinds of outrages will NOT happen again and future generations will shake their heads in horror and pity that such things ever did happen.

Bob Avakian: "Emmett Till and Jim Crow: Black people lived under a death sentence"

An excerpt from REVOLUTION: Why It's Necessary, Why It's Possible, What It's All About. Watch the whole talk at


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