/  03.15.2022

Emmett Till’s cousin has responded after Taraji P. Henson referenced the 14-year-old’s brutal 1955 lynching in regard to Jussie Smollett’s recent sentencing. 

As reported by REVOLT, Henson called for Smollett’s freedom on Monday (March 14) after her former “Empire” castmate was sentenced to 150 days in Cook County Jail and 30 months of probation for filing false police reports about being the victim of a hate crime.

On social media, Henson pointed to Smollett’s sentence and noted that the men who violently murdered Till never faced any legal repercussions for their crime.

Emmett Till was brutally beat and ultimately murdered because of a lie and none of the people involved with his demise spent one day in jail, even after Carolyn Bryant admitted that her claims were false,” she wrote. “No one was hurt or killed during Jussie’s ordeal. He has already lost everything, EVERYTHING!”

On Tuesday (March 15), Till’s cousin Deborah Watts, who co-founded the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, said she appreciates Henson bringing Till’s case into the conversation.

“… I do truly appreciate Taraji P. Henson sharing her passion and support for him (Smollett). I mean, anyone in that situation I think would love encouragement and support from their friends,” she told TMZ. “But I also appreciate Ms. Henson connecting in and mentioning Emmett Till’s murder, his lynching, because it is unsolved and we are still fighting for justice after 67 years. His mother fought for justice, opening that casket up for the world to see.”

Watts said she couldn’t comment on Henson’s comparison between the two cases, but did agree that Black people often face harsher penalties in the American criminal justice system.

“I know that, historically, Back and brown bodies have been punished more severely than others in our country and so I’m not weighing in on Jussie’s case at this point, but I do think it’s unfortunate that we face more harsher punishment than others,” she said. “… And unfortunately in Emmett Till’s case the perpetrators were held, they were acquitted of his murder, they sold their stories to Look Magazine for about $4,000 and there are others who were responsible for his death as well who were never brought to justice… Carolyn Bryant Donham, who is still alive, has never faced her responsibility.”

“So, I can’t argue on how people are comparing [the two cases], but I know that Emmett’s been on the mind and I appreciate Ms. Henson for mentioning Emmett Till, bringing his name to the forefront,” Watts continued. “It is appropriate. It is important. It is relevant to what’s happening today to many others.”

As reported by REVOLT, Smollett was also ordered to pay $120,000 in restitution as well as a $25,000 fine. He is currently being held in a psychiatric ward following some mix-ups with his legal paperwork.

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