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Family of Emmett Till and Jesse Jackson Comment on Lil Wayne’s Controversial Verse

February 15, 2013 | Posted by Jeremy Thomas

The family of Emmett Till, the African-American teen whose death in 1955 is considered an important moment in the civil rights movement, recently spoke with Billboard about Lil Wayne referring to Till’s death in a sexual lyric as has Jesse Jackson. The label has said it is an unauthorized remix and is trying to get it pulled offline; the lyric in question will be removed when the song is officially released. Check out the highlights:

Airickca Gordon-Taylor on how the lyric is hurtful: “It was a heinous murder,” . He was brutally beaten and tortured, and he was shot, wrapped in barbed wire and tossed in the Tallahatchie River. The images that we’re fortunate to have (of his open casket) that ‘Jet’ published, they demonstrate the ugliness of racism. So to compare a woman’s anatomy — the gateway of life — to the ugly face of death, it just destroyed me. And then I had to call the elders in my family and explain to them before they heard it from some another source.”

Jesse Jackson on Wayne’s response to the controversy: “Once he got the point he realized this was beyond the zone and he immediately pulled it. And he talked with both artists, who agreed.”

Jackson on Wayne: “I respect his art…We just felt they could make their point without grossly insulting people.”

Jackson on what he would like to see from the music industry: “We want artists who have considerable power to use their power to uplift and redirect. It’s not a matter of free speech, it’s also speech that matters. … These artists have culturally transforming power. Either they hurt or they help.”

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Jeremy Thomas

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