Here’s to the State of Mississippi – Phil Ochs

If you read my blog post about Emmett Till, you know that he was a fourteen year old boy who lived in Chicago, but came to Mississippi to visit his uncle. While in Mississippi, he talked to a woman behind the counter at a local store, and supposedly winked at her. The woman’s husband and his half brother brutally beat, shot, and threw Emmett into the river. This all happened in the 1950s, in a town called Money, Mississippi. When they found Emmett’s body, he was badly disfigured. (I’m not going to post a picture, because it’s really graphic. But you can Google it, if you want.)

The song “Here’s to the State of Mississippi” by Phil Oches makes me think of Emmett and the unfair way he was killed before his time. In Chicago, where Emmett was from, racial lines were not as drastic as they were in the deep south. One of the lyrics from the song says in Mississippi, “the devil draws no lines.” They murdered an innocent fourteen year old boy. I’d say that hatred that strong definitely doesn’t have any lines. Another lyric says “if you drag her muddy river, nameless bodies you will find.” Emmett’s body was thrown into the  Tallahatchie River. The muderers didn’t get convicted, because they were white, the judge was white, and the jury was white. The songs says the “black man stands accused the trial is always short.” This was true of the court case involving Emmett’s murder. The town “shrugged their shoulders at the murder of a man.” The sad thing is, Emmett was not yet a man. He was still a child. However, he endured things that no human should ever have to endure.

One thought on “Here’s to the State of Mississippi – Phil Ochs

  1. Thank you for this thoughtful post. It’s a really somber topic, and yet, as someone just said in a comment: we must look at the painful stuff and understand it so that we don’t let injustice happen again.

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