After LeBron James invoked Emmett Till’s name when commenting on the recent hate crime committed against his home, some critics questioned whether his statements were appropriate and accurately described the nature of the situation. But Till’s living cousin, Deborah Watts, doesn’t see anything wrong with James using her family’s name. In fact, she applauded him for his bravery in speaking about the sensitive topic.
“I don’t understand the criticism. What he did in using his platform was very, very powerful, and I really appreciate his courage,” Watts told TMZ on June 7. Watts did clarify a few points in regards to the difference between Emmett Till’s death and the crime committed against James however. “Is it lynching the way Emmett was murdered and killed? No. Was it a part of an environment that created an opportune time for people to feel like they could do it? Yes.”
While some may not have agreed with Lebron likening his recent incident of racism to that of 14-year-old Till’s – who was brutally murdered while visiting family in Mississippi in the summer of 1955 – the Cleveland Cavaliers player made some powerful points about being African American in today’s society. “Racism will always be part of the world, part of America, and hate in America, especially for African Americans, is living every day,” James stated during his post-game press conference on May 31. “No matter how much money you have, no matter how famous you are, no matter how many people admire you, being black in America is tough. We’ve got a long way to go for us as a society and for us as African Americans until we feel equal in America.”
Watch Deborah Watts’ comments to TMZ in the video below.