Fathers’ rights attorney and advocate Jeffery M. Leving recently presented the family of Emmett Till with the obituary of their cousin killed in 1955. The teen’s untimely death was one of the sparks that ignited the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950s and ’60s.
The obituary presentation came during a live broadcast of Chicago Counterpoint TV and was followed by an interview with Till’s cousin Ollie B. Gordon. Leving asked how Till’s mother Mamie Till Mobley might feel about an 18-year-old black teen being gunned down by police in Ferguson, Mo., and its relevance to Gordon’s nonprofit, the Mamie Till Mobley Foundation.
“If Mamie were alive to see what’s going on in Ferguson, her heart would be heavy. It’s almost 60 years later and we are still struggling,” said Gordon, Mobley’s surrogate daughter.
On Aug. 9, Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen was shot by a white police in Ferguson, Mo., touching off weeks of rioting. In August, 1955, Gordon’s 14-year-old cousin, Till, was killed in Money, Mississippi. His mother unleashed a national outcry when she displayed his mutilated body for all to see. Leving secured the newspaper obituary after Gordon shared with him that the family did not have one. “I’m honored to be able to provide this for them through my good working relationships at the Chicago Defender,’’ he said. Gordon said the shooting of Brown reinforces the need for the foundation, which she co-founded in 2009 to honor her cousin and advance efforts to shine a light on social injustices that demoralize the community. “We have to encourage young men and instill confidence so they can be effective fathers who raise successful children,’ ’she said.
Gordon co-founded the Mamie Till Mobley Foundation, which “remembers the past and educates the future” through enrichment programs and speaking engagements. A retired public school teacher, Gordon spent 17 of her 34 years working in the Correctional Education Environment at Cook County Jail.
Click here to watch the interview.