By Xela Wooten
Down below, beyond the broken pieces of slave ships, beyond the walls listing only numbers of those whose bodies were tossed into the sea, is the Emmett Till Exhibit.
It was quite horrible to see.
The gold casket was located in the lower level of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.
It was pretty emotional to me, but somehow I felt like we were connected and that I knew him. Till was about my age when he was brutally beaten to death.
Dr. Yolanda Pierce told the delegation that the family donated Till’s casket to the museum. Even after I left the museum, the image of that casket stuck with me. I had known about Emmett Till’s death, but it seemed as though this time it really hit home, especially after I watched “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till.”
Pierce, curator and director of the Center for the Study of African American Religious Life, led the museum tour, which concluded with this summer’s Transatlantic Roundtable on Religion and Race pre-conference.
I attended the Baltimore Immersion Tour, which was part of this pre-conference.
The roundtable was founded in 2010 to bring together international scholars, religious leaders and community activists.
This was my first time attending the Transatlantic Roundtable. My father, Jamye Wooten of Kinetics and Baltimore United for Change, led the tour.
The theme was “What Rises Out of Uprisings: Baltimore Uprising and African Diaspora Connections.”
TRRR first met at Gilmore Homes, Sandtown-Winchester. Dominqiue Stevens of Friend of a Friend and founder of the Tubman House, spoke to the group.
We also heard from Tawanda Jones of West Coalition (Baltimore United for Change). Jones is the sister of Tyrone West, a man who died after a struggle with Baltimore police officers in 2013. Witnesses say West died because he couldn’t breathe and not because of a heart condition, according to The Baltimore Sun.
We then moved on to the Rev. Dr. Heber Brown III and the Pleasant Hope Baptist Church. We met with Eric Jackson of the Black Yield Institute. During the visit, we got a close up of Brown’s Oritas Cross Freedom School garden.
The Freedom School is an African-centered youth educational program that focuses on teaching African history and culture, as well as life skills to equip and push the next generation forward.
I hope to attend the TRRR next year if they are hosting it in the USA. I enjoyed meeting people from around the world who were a part of the delegation.
This was an amazing experience and will stick with me forever.