The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday November 27th

Story of Emmett Till's murder comes to UNC



Time: Friday, 7 p.m.

Location: Sonja Haynes Stone Center

More info:

In 1955, a 14-year-old teenager was brutally murdered. Sixty years later, his story is coming to the Sonja Haynes Stone Center.

Tonight at 7 p.m., Campus Y is putting on a free performance of the one-man play “Dar He: The Story of Emmett Till,” written by and starring UNC MFA graduate Mike Wiley. 

The show shares the true story of Emmett Till, a young boy who was in the Mississippi Delta in the racially tense 1950s. After being accused of flirting with or whistling at a white woman, he was abducted, beaten, shot in the face and thrown into the river with his eyes gouged out and a 70-pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. The men accused of killing him were acquitted and never faced any consequences.

Campus Y, the Black Student Movement and Carolina Women’s Center worked together to bring this show to campus as part of MLK Celebration Week. The show was originally scheduled for Jan. 24, the last day of MLK Celebration Week, but was rescheduled due to snow.

Following the show, playwright Mike Wiley will lead a discussion during a reception with refreshments.

Megan Stanley, a member representing the Black Student Movement, said she hopes this show will spark discussions on campus about the discrimination African Americans still face today.  

“There is very much a criminogenic gaze upon those people,” Stanley said. “Allegedly whistling at a white woman in a black body is what caused (Emmett Till’s) death, and even today black bodies really aren’t valued as much.”

Princess Onuorah, a Campus Y first-year member at large, said she thinks it’s important for people everywhere to hear about this story because many young people of color are murdered while their killers do not face consequences.

“We can’t just sit and watch things like this keep on repeating themselves, because this is to show people that history is very much intertwined with what’s happening today," she said. "The script hasn’t changed.” 

Onuorah and Wiley both compared Trayvon Martin’s killing to Emmett Till’s killing because their killers were never convicted. 

Kyra Rubin, another FMAL, said Campus Y is covering the cost of Wiley’s appearance using a fund set aside for MLK Celebration Week. Stanley said they wanted to make the event free so that anyone interested would be able to attend.

“This is one of the messages that we really want to be as easily accessible to students as possible,” Rubin said.

First-year Psalms White said she is interested in seeing the show. She remembers hearing the story from her mother when she was 12 and took it upon herself to research his story. She saw the picture of how mutilated Till was and had nightmares for months.

She said the injustice Till faced is still relevant today.

“Even though the evidence weighed in his favor, he didn’t find justice and you can kind of see that correlation even though not to that same scale, but in a lot of the current events that are happening today with police brutality and African Americans being killed,” White said.

She also stressed the importance of students attending the performance.

“I feel like you can’t even really understand the entirety of the civil rights movement without understanding the impact that event made.”


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