August 28 marked the 50th anniversary of the lynching of Emmett Till in Mississippi. This 14-year-old Chicago youth was abducted, beaten, tortured and shot in the head by racists for “whistling” at a white woman. The courageous decision of Till’s mother to order his mutilated body displayed in an open casket touched off a worldwide outcry against lynching. It ignited the civil rights revolution.

While the two white men arrested for the crime have died, a dozen or more accomplices are still alive. Not a single Klan terrorist has been convicted for Till’s murder.

Meanwhile, Edgar Ray Killen, convicted of masterminding the 1963 murder of the three civil rights martyrs Chaney, Goodman and Schwerner, is today free on $600,000 bond, once more proving that racism continues to disfigure our nation.

President George W. Bush covertly promotes this deeply entrenched, systemic racism. Take just two examples.

A recent report by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics that white law enforcement officers are far more likely to use force against Black and Latino motorists than against whites. Lawrence Greenfield, who headed the bureau, was ordered by his supervisor, Tracy Henke, to delete a paragraph describing this racist profiling from a press release announcing the report. Greenfield refused. He was fired. Henke was nominated for a senior position in the Department of Homeland Security. What is this, if not rewarding a bureaucrat for a blatant cover-up of racism?

Bunnatine Greenhouse, a top U.S. Army official assigned to oversee Pentagon contracts, was demoted Aug. 27. She had blown the whistle on billions of dollars in corrupt no-bid contracts doled out to Halliburton, a corporation once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

Greenhouse once told a congressional hearing that the contracts awarded to Halliburton were “the most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career.” Her demotion fits in with the Bush administration’s determined cover-up of its record of corrupt, crony ties with military corporations. Greenhouse is African American.

Fifty years after Emmett Till’s lynching, the fight against racism remains crucial to social progress.

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