Remembering Emmett Till

The anniversary of the March on Washington shares a sad but significant date in history.

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Ma was also struck by the fact that Emmett had just celebrated his 14th birthday on July 25 -- a Leo just like she was, she would note -- and that their birthdays were just two weeks apart.

"I looked at him and thought, 'That could have been my little brother'," she told me.

My mother died in 2000, and both she and Emmett are buried at the historic, and now infamous, Burr Oak Cemetery. I don't go to the cemetery anymore, but for years when I did, I always visited and said a prayer at his grave, too. Without fail.

I think of Emmett Till not just as the touchstone for the modern civil rights movement but also as a son of Chicago -- as family. Somebody who could have been my uncle or my big cousin. As the nation commemorates the March on Washington August 28, I'll also be thinking of Emmett Till.

Sabrina L. Miller is a freelance writer living in Chicago.

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