3 Short Stories About Race, The Holocaust, and Abortion Make 1 Powerful Point

No I didn’t set out this morning to hit on all the hot topics in one blog post. But for different reasons these three things converged in my mind in the past few days and I think these three stories make one powerful point.


Emmett_TillAugust 28th was the anniversary of the death of Emmett Till the 14 year old African American boy who was violently murdered in 1955 by two white men while visiting family in Mississippi. Till’s crime? On a dare from his friends he spoke flirtatiously to a white woman, Carolyn Bryant. A few days later the woman’s husband, Roy Bryant, and her brother, J. W. Milam, found Till at his great uncle’s house, kidnapped him, beat him, gouged out his eye, shot him in the head, and dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River. When his body was recovered three days later, it was only identifiable by an initialed ring he wore.

His mother, Mamie Bradley, requested that he not be buried in Mississippi but instead returned to his home in Chicago where she insisted on an open casket and public funeral. She wanted everyone to see what had happened to her son thereby taking away the excuse that they didn’t know how bad things were for black people.

Postscript: Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam were tried in a segregated courthouse where they were positively identified by Till’s family. The all white jury deliberated for less than an hour before returning a verdict of not guilty. Having already been acquitted and therefore protected from double jeopardy, both men acknowledged their guilt in an interview with Look magazine.

The Holocaust

WeimarResidentsOn April 15, 1945, just 4 days after the liberation of the concentration camp at Buchenwald, the American Army escorted the German citizens living nearby through the concentration camp making them face the realities that they had long denied knowing about. It took two days for all the Germans to file through. No precautions were taken to keep them from getting the typhoid that ran rampant through the camp.

A few of the Jewish survivors still in prison garb sat at a table and waited for the German citizens so they could share with them their personal stories of the atrocities they experienced. The first news reel about the German war crimes to hit American theaters showed the Germans forced to bury some of the dead bodies.

Many Germans claimed not to know what was really happening at the camps. They said that they didn’t know what the Nazis were up to. General Eisenhower was determined to take that excuse away. Much like Emmett Till’s mother, he forced the public to see more than they wanted to see.


During the sermon on Psalm 139 this past Sunday, I thought Dave did an outstanding job talking for a few minutes about abortion. I won’t try to repeat what he said although I’d encourage you to listen to the whole sermon.

Instead I will just make the observation that the recent videos that have been released featuring Planned Parenthood employees have taken away the excuse that is often used: “We didn’t know what was really happening.”

No matter how we respond, whether it’s by making a donation or casting a vote or adopting a child or praying or supporting a crisis pregnancy center or helping a woman with an unplanned pregnancy or maybe doing nothing at all, one thing we know for sure is that when it comes to abortion no one will be able to hide behind the excuse that they didn’t know what was really happening.


  1. Well articulated, Keith – no more can it be said that “we didn’t know”!

  2. Wow. Thank you for your post. It called to mind a quote by Martin Niemoller, a German pastor during the holocaust:

    When the Nazis came for the communists,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a communist.

    When they locked up the social democrats,
    I remained silent;
    I was not a social democrat.

    When they came for the trade unionists,
    I did not speak out;
    I was not a trade unionist.

    When they came for the Jews,
    I remained silent;
    I wasn’t a Jew.

    When they came for me,
    there was no one left to speak out.
    – Martin Niemoller

  3. Amadi said:

    Thank you for your thoughts. All the above is true and eerily scary it is happening again.

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