Ala.ni is bringing renewed attention to the case of Emmett Till.
The up-and-coming singer-songwriter released a new song over the weekend titled ‘Lament For Emmett Till.’ The song finds Ala.ni reciting the poem by journalist and activist Claudia Jones that Jones wrote in 1955, along with a gentle, strained instrumentation. That strained approach is used to help heighten the pain exhibited in the poem.
Ala.ni talked about the song’s creation in a recent interview.
“Six years ago, I was studying the works and activism of Ms. Claudia Jones and came across a poem that she had written for Emmett Till in December 1955,” she said. “This poetry moved me to write a song. I then went to the studio to record a demo version of the ‘Lament for Emmett Till’ and I could only sing it once. It was too painful to sing again. The version released is the first take, the one and only recording. The studio tape was lost. Six years later, I have no choice but to sing it, shout it, scream it.”
Till was murdered Aug. 28, 1955 after being wrongfully accused of of having made sexual advances toward a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, at a Mississippi grocery store. The men accused of his murder — Bryant’s husband Roy and his half brother J.W. Milam — were acquitted of the crime, but later confessed to the crime in a paid magazine interview in which they admitted they knew they could not be retried in the case. Bryant herself admitted in a 2007 interview wit historian Timothy Tyson that she had fabricated at least part of her story, noting that Till had never grabbed her by the waist and used obscenities against her.
More than 10,000 people attended Till’s funeral.
Till’s death inspired civil rights figures, such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks, who stated following her incident on a bus that led to her arrest, “I thought about Emmett Till, and I couldn’t go back [to the back of the bus]).”
Now in partner with the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, Ala.ni is working to pressure the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to release the findings of its recent re-investigation of Till’s case through the use of a petition that is available to sign here.
“The FBI are due to release the findings from their re-investigation of the murder case any time soon and, what with Carolyn Bryant still being alive, we think there is no better time than now for her to stand guilty as charged for her lies told and her role in the capture, beating, lynching and murder of Emmett Till,” said Ala.ni of the push. “The ‘Emmett Till Anti-lynching Act’ can not be properly addressed with a correct, conscious outcome in congress if the name of the person after which the act is called has not been served any justice. Nothing. No apology. No compensation. It is a mockery.”
The Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act (H.R. 35) aims to criminalize lynching, making lynching a federal crime. It was introduced into Congress Jan. 3 and passed the House of Representatives on Feb. 26 in a vote of 410-4 before its filing in the Senate Feb. 27. It has remained in the Senate without any action taken since that time, according to the Congress’ official tracker in the provided link.
An article published June 5 in the New York Times states passage of the bill is being held up by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). According to the article, Paul argued the bill’s wording was too ambiguous. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) spoke out against Paul’s comments, the article states. The senators’ comments are noted in the article in the provided link.
All proceeds raised through the sale of Ala.ni’s new song will go to benefit the Emmett Till legacy Foundation. Her song is just the latest to address Till’s murder. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Emmylou Harris, Janelle Monae, and Hypnotic Brass Ensemble have all crafted songs about the case.
Ala.ni’s latest recording ACCA in January. The album is her sophomore LP.
More information on Ala.ni’s new single is available online along with all of Ala.ni’s latest news at:
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