“I would like to take a moment to acknowledge your hurt, as well as the letter you sent to me via your attorneys,” Wayne wrote.
Relatives of Emmett Till, who was brutally beaten in 1955 for allegedly whistling at a White woman, released a video earlier this month expressing their concerns about Wayne’s lyrics. In the song, he used the tragic assault to colorfully describe how he’d engage in sexual intercourse with a woman.
According to the Till family, his words “illuminated the need for more awareness about our cultural and historical foundation… His lyrical indiscretion revived Emmett’s spirit, simply to murder him again by trivializing the importance of those who sacrificed, struggled and died for our inequality.”
Wayne clarified that he did appreciate the struggles of those who suffered during the Civil Rights Movement.
“I have tremendous respect for those who paved the way for the liberty and opportunities that African-Americans currently enjoy,” wrote Wayne.
As a result of their offense, the family suggested a boycott of Wayne’s upcoming tour and one of his biggest endorsers.
“I will not use or reference Emmett Till or the Till family in my music, especially in an inappropriate manner,” he wrote. “I will not be performing the lyrics that contain that reference live and have removed them from the catalog.
“We support all efforts of mobilization. We support the boycotts the bans by the radio stations to pull the music,” said Airickca Gordon-Taylor, who is identified as Emmett’s cousin. “We support blocking and banning the endorsements. I’ve maintained from February, don’t do the Dew. His biggest endorsement is through Pepsi’s Mountain Dew. Stop buying it. Stop lining his pockets.”
Though the letter stopped short of an actual, “I’m sorry,” he seemingly tried to appease the family members and ease their minds about continued use of the lyrics.
It remains to be seen whether the family is satisfied with sentiments expressed in his letter.
“People are outraged because they feel that he should apologize to our family. I believe that’s the least of what we deserve, and I think that it’s important that our children see that you take a stance to right this wrong,” Airickca said.
Is Wayne’s apology enough or too much? Should the Till family be satisfied with his letter? Why or why not? Leave your comments below.
Till’s relatives are also concerned about the misogyny of it all. Watch.