Our Mission: A Legacy of Hope
“We cannot afford the luxury of self pity. Our top priority now is to get on with the building process. My personal peace has come through helping boys and girls reach beyond the ordinary and strive for the extraordinary. We must teach our children to weather the hurricanes of life, pick up the pieces, and rebuild. We must impress upon our children that even when troubles rise to seven-point -one on the life’s Richter scale, they must be anchored so deeply that, though they sway, they will not topple”
November 5, 1989
Dedication of the Civil Rights Memorial
Southern Poverty Law Center HQ, Montgomery, Alabama
The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation sets out to foster a Legacy of Hope in the nation. We have the power and strength inside all of us to eliminate hate and provide justice and peace. With your help and support, The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation will be able to:
- Educate and spread the knowledge of non-violent justice and how it effectively eliminates hatred, racism, and violence
- Present a unique theme for good living: HOPE begets H.O.P.E. “Historical Opportunities for Positive Endings resulting in Hatred Overpowered Peace Everywhere.” The past is a key element in protecting our future
- Provide educational endowment/scholarships, to be awarded to high school seniors with encouragement to 14 year olds (Emmett’s age at the time of his murder) to pursue higher education. An economic barrier should be no obstacle for a college or post high school education
- Encourage and create a spirit of legacy building and passing the intergenerational knowledge, experience, history and sense of purpose to leaders of the future
Background: Emmett Till Legacy Foundation (ETLF)
- The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation was initially inspired by the Chicago based Emmett Till Foundation (ETF). This organization was established by Alma Spearman (Emmett Till’s grandmother) and led by the mother of Emmett Till, Mamie Till Mobley until her death in 2003. The organization is now led by Bertha Thomas, (IL)
- In 1996, Emmett Till’s mother approached her cousin, Deborah Watts and charged her with helping to keep Emmett’s memory alive, expand her reach and make a greater impact in the lives of youth and others across the country.
- The charge was accepted by Deborah, with the support of close family members. They promised to not allow Emmett’s death to be in vain. They vowed to continue telling his story and create a legacy of hope by providing one of the greatest forms of freedom to youth across this country…..an education.
- In 1998, with the support a non profit fiscal agent in Minnesota, Deborah and Teri Watts began awarding scholarships in memory of Emmett Till to high school students during an annual high school graduation celebration called “The Journey”.
- The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation (ETLF) a 501c3 non profit organization was established by founders Charles Reese and Deborah Watts in 2005 in Stone Mountain, Georgia. With the assistance of other family members this organization moved aggressively towards creating a new kind of justice, by providing youth, women and disenfranchised families, an opportunity at life that Emmett never had a chance to pursue.
- ETLF is a national organization with 1 Executive Director and 9 board of Directors. Deborah Watts — Executive Director and President, MN, Ollie B Gordon — Director, IL, Charles Reese — Director, Treasurer, GA, Betty Reese Brown — Director, TN, Toni Joyner— Director, GA, Tia Robbins — Director, FL, Roxie Hardeman — Director, CA, Juanita Delgado — Director, MI, Teri Watts — Director, MN, Amberly Carter — Director, IL.
- Educate and teach others how to seek justice, eliminate hatred and racism nonviolently.
- Use lessons from our past history to create a peace and H.O.P.E. filled future for generations to come. (HOPE begets H. O. P. E. Historical Opportunities for PositiveEndings results in H.O.P.E. “Hatred Overpowered?(means) Peace Everywhere.
- Provide educational endowment/scholarships to high school seniors who are pursuing higher education (post high school at a college or university). The intent is to remove the financial barriers for those students who have a need and open the “doors of opportunity” for the awardees to achieve the “American Dream".
- Encourage and create a spirit of legacy building. Provide an ongoing platform to pass the baton (intergenerational knowledge, experience, history and sense of purpose) to future leaders.