If you are not aware, this year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the murder of Emmett Till, an African American Chicago youth with all the spunk and sass of my character Andreu. His mother, too, warned her son that while certain behaviors may go over in Chicago, they are a big taboo in 1955 Mississippi. Apparently Emmett forgot his mother's admonishments and allegedly flirted with a white woman. That woman, upon who Grazide Roche is based, informed her husband who, along with his brother-in-law, kidnapped and brutally murdered Emmett Till.
I had to think: Emmett's mother had the black press on her side. She insisted her boy's grotesquely battered face be shown to all the world. What everyone saw in Emmett's distorted, unrecognizable visage were the sins of a nation, that the racial and ethnic divide would, if unchecked and unaddressed, explode into violent outrage. It is said, Emmett's death marked the beginning of the modern civil rights movement in the South. Obviously, in my story, this is not the case.
Anis, on the other hand, had no Jet magazine to take photos, no civil rights leaders to turn to, no chance of ever calling for a national outcry. There was no one addressing the conditions the Romany faced all throughout Europe and, subsequently, the Americas. What Andreu, in the end, referred to when he says tears will always be shed was the ongoing plight of his people. His own story may have had a happy ending, but he could see there would be no happy days for the Romany. I thought on this while outlining the final three chapters. I had planned for Andreu to die, killed by a brutal lynching, and his mother would call for justice but never get it. After some soul-searching, I felt to let the kid live, give his assailants and accuser their comeuppance, and leave the ending open for a possible sequel.
If you do not know the whole story on Emmett Till, and the impact of his murder, I have several links below. Most are up to date, a few are fairly dated and lack the latest information regarding the case. You can also do a Google search on Emmett Till as there are many more sites than what I've linked here.
American Experience: The Murder of Emmett Till
PBS site on the Till case. The program is available on home video.
Wikipedia's Till entry
The Murder of Emmett Till
Early essay on the case and its impact.
A song about Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
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