‘We Have a Long Way to Go:’ Descendants of First Black Americans on Race Relations

HAMPTON, Va. (Reuters) – Four hundred years after the first ship carrying enslaved Africans arrived on the coast of Virginia, the descendants of one of the first black American families say race relations in the United States still have “a long way to go.”

The Tucker family, who trace their ancestry to the 1624 census of the then British colony of Virginia, has experienced every chapter of African-American history.

From captivity on ships to slavery on plantations, to the 1861-1865 U.S. Civil War waged over legal slavery, 20th century discrimination laws and lynchings, the civil rights struggle and to the Black Lives Matter movement, racial disparities course through life and politics in the United States.

black Americans

Lakeika Davis and Kelly Preston-Davis, of Durham, North Carolina, visit the 1619 exhibit at the Hampton History Museum, commemorating the 400-year anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans on the coast of Virginia, in Hampton, Virginia, U.S., July 28, 2019. Picture taken July 28, 2019. REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy

 

“The race issues have always been here,” said Vincent Tucker, the president of the William Tucker 1624 Society who believes he is nine or 10 generations removed from William Tucker, born in Virginia in 1624 after his parents were transported from present-day Angola in 1619.

“We have a long way to go,” Tucker, 57, said.

Brenda Tucker, 77, another descendant of William who serves on the family society’s board, said she supported efforts by some Democratic lawmakers to have the federal government issue reparations to black Americans who were economically affected by slavery.

 

black Americans

Shirley Petteaway, a descendent of William Tucker whose parents were brought from Angola on the first ship carrying enslaved Africans to Virginia in 1619, pays respects to a family member buried at the Tucker family cemetery in Hampton, Virginia, U.S., July 27, 2019. REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy

“Reparations, I think, would be very appropriate because we, as hard as we worked and continue to work, we were not able to establish businesses to grow other businesses in mass, and that’s what it’s going to take to grow our economic state,” she said.

Issuing reparations to all living people who are descendents of slaves or who have suffered racial discrimination has been estimated to cost trillions of dollars. The U.S. government has never approved reparations.

black Americans

A flower lays on a grave in the Tucker family cemetery in Hampton, Virginia U.S., July 27, 2019, 400 years after William Tucker’s parents were brought from Angola on the first ship carrying enslaved Africans to Virginia in 1619. REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy

Some Democratic candidates seeking the party’s nomination to run against Republican President Donald Trump in the 2020 election support reparations for African Americans who for generations were held back by legal discrimination and general prejudice.

Trump, from his days as a New York businessman, in his 2016 election campaign and as president, has been criticized for making inflammatory statements that stoke racial tensions.

In July, Trump lashed out in Twitter posts against four minority Democratic first-term congresswomen and U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings, a black longtime civil rights activist. The statements, including saying the congresswomen should “go back” to the countries they came from, were widely viewed as racially divisive, underlining the extent to which those divisions have persisted through the centuries.

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Brenda Tucker said she believed Trump fanned racial divisions through his rhetoric.

“As far as whether or not he’s fueling racism, he’s fueling it,” she told Reuters.

Trump has repeatedly denied that racial animus drove his comments, telling reporters last week, “I am the least racist person there is anywhere in the world.”

black Americans

Verrandall Tucker and Brenda Tucker, descendants of William Tucker whose parents were brought from Angola on the first ship carrying enslaved Africans to Virginia in 1619, gather at the Tucker family cemetery in Hampton, Virginia, U.S., July 27, 2019. Picture taken July 27, 2019. REUTERS/Michael A. McCoy

Tucker spoke in front of her ancestors’ graves in a cemetery in Hampton, Virginia, less than a mile from the plantation where her ancestors were enslaved.

Some Tuckers have left Hampton over the years, but many have stayed, intent on preserving the family’s oral history.

“People can look at us and say, ‘Hey, they made it,” said Vincent Tucker. “‘They’re still making it.’”

(Reporting by Angela Moore; Writing by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Scott Malone and Grant McCool)

Barack Obama Weighs in on Mass Shootings

Former President Barack Obama’s silence during the turbulence of Donald Trump’s presidency has been almost deafening. “Obama has largely stayed silent since leaving office in 2017, opting not to endorse anyone in the Democratic primary and only occasionally weighing in to criticize Trump,” reported Reuters. Now, he has taken to social media to issue a statement on the two most recent American mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio:

From Barack Obama’s official Facebook page:

Michelle and I grieve with all the families in El Paso and Dayton who endured these latest mass shootings. Even if details are still emerging, there are a few things we already know to be true.

 

First, no other nation on Earth comes close to experiencing the frequency of mass shootings that we see in the United States. No other developed nation tolerates the levels of gun violence that we do. Every time this happens, we’re told that tougher gun laws won’t stop all murders; that they won’t stop every deranged individual from getting a weapon and shooting innocent people in public places. But the evidence shows that they can stop some killings. They can save some families from heartbreak. We are not helpless here. And until all of us stand up and insist on holding public officials accountable for changing our gun laws, these tragedies will keep happening.

 

Second, while the motivations behind these shootings may not yet be fully known, there are indications that the El Paso shooting follows a dangerous trend: troubled individuals who embrace racist ideologies and see themselves obligated to act violently to preserve white supremacy. Like the followers of ISIS and other foreign terrorist organizations, these individuals may act alone, but they’ve been radicalized by white nationalist websites that proliferate on the internet. That means that both law enforcement agencies and internet platforms need to come up with better strategies to reduce the influence of these hate groups.

 

But just as important, all of us have to send a clarion call and behave with the values of tolerance and diversity that should be the hallmark of our democracy. We should soundly reject language coming out of the mouths of any of our leaders that feeds a climate of fear and hatred or normalizes racist sentiments; leaders who demonize those who don’t look like us, or suggest that other people, including immigrants, threaten our way of life, or refer to other people as sub-human, or imply that America belongs to just one certain type of people. Such language isn’t new – it’s been at the root of most human tragedy throughout history, here in America and around the world. It is at the root of slavery and Jim Crow, the Holocaust, the genocide in Rwanda and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans. It has no place in our politics and our public life. And it’s time for the overwhelming majority of Americans of goodwill, of every race and faith and political party, to say as much – clearly and unequivocally.

On Saturday, 21-year-old Patrick Crusius fatally shot 20 people and injured 26 at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. Crusius has since been identified as an extreme right-wing white nationalist with a vendetta against immigrants.

Approximately 13 hours after that mass shooting, Dayton, Ohio, suffered its own active shooting incident. Connor Betts, a 24-year-old white male, killed nine people and injured 27 outside of a popular bar in Dayton.

Twitter Curates Virtual Food and Conversation Experience Between Harlem and Lagos, Nigeria

In addition to connecting millions of social media users each day, Twitter is bringing people around the world together for real-life conversations through #Tweetups, its first-ever global experiential activation series. The purpose of the live curated events is to connect people across the globe to talk about topics that matter to them in real-time through video interactions powered by Shared_Studios. The activations are taking place in 40 global cities—from Berlin to Brooklyn, Doha to Detroit, Lagos to London, LA to Tokyo—now until Aug. 4.

On Thursday, the social media giant held a Tweetup in Harlem, where a group of black Americans met, talked, and ate with a group of men and women in Lagos, Nigeria. The theme of the discussion centered on blackness and moving online activism into tangible action.

“It was very interactive,” said Jamira Burley, a social impact consultant and human rights activist based in New York, after the event. Burley says hearing stories from those in Lagos made her realized how much she shares their values and aspirations. “We’re all trying to not only take care of ourselves but also create a world which enables our families [and] future generations to be able to thrive and grow.”

Burley added that she loved the Senegalese lunch that was served, which included Jollof and fried rice, pepper soup, salad, grilled chicken, and fish. “I need to step my game up and eat more African food because it was so good, so tasteful,” she said. “It reminded me [of] how important it is for folks to come together around food and have honest and real conversations.”

God-is Rivera, the global director of Culture and Community at Twitter and curator of the local Harlem Tweetup, said the goal of the event was to personify the best part of Twitter: bringing people from all walks of life together.

“In the spirit of fostering meaningful, healthy conversations across distance and difference, we partnered with Shared Studios to evolve Tweetups into an activation people around the globe can participate in,” she told BLACK ENTERPRISE in a statement. “By creating these immersive spaces, we hope to strengthen global dialogue both on and off Twitter and to continue to pass the mic to people who we otherwise might never encounter.”

She added, “There’s something incredibly powerful about connecting with people over shared meals, shared interests, shared experiences and discussing what’s happening in their lives and their worlds.”

Barack Obama, Silent in Democratic Nominating Contest, Omnipresent in Debate

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former President Barack Obama was not on the Democratic presidential candidate debate stage on Wednesday night, but he was omnipresent as 2020 hopefuls struggled with attacking the legacy of their party’s most popular member.

Coming under heavy attack from more liberal, lower-polling candidates, front-runner Joe Biden frequently invoked Obama in his defense, the first black president, for whom he served as No. 2 for eight years.

Obama enjoys vast popularity not just in his party, but among all Americans, including African Americans whose backing is crucial to win the Democratic nomination to take on Republican President Donald Trump in the November 2020 election. A June poll by the think tank Pew found Obama is now considered the best president in the past 100 years.

“We’ve now had about 105 straight months of positive job growth, the longest streak in American history,” said Democratic candidate Julian Castro, who was federal housing chief in the Obama administration. “Over 80 months of that was due to President Barack Obama. Thank you, Barack Obama.”

That left some of Biden’s rivals in the Democratic primary contest struggling to find a way to criticize the former vice president and his pledge to continue and enhance Obama’s legacy, while also avoiding disparaging the former president.

Obama has largely stayed silent since leaving office in 2017, opting not to endorse anyone in the Democratic primary and only occasionally weighing in to criticize Trump.

“Everybody is talking about how terrible I am on these issues,” Biden said, referring to his record on race.

“Barack Obama knew exactly who I was. He had 10 lawyers do a background check on everything about me on civil rights and civil liberties, and he chose me, and he said it was the best decision he made. I’ll take his judgment.”

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The crowded field of about two dozen Democrats running for the nomination to challenge Trump are struggling to determine how far left their party should move, a debate that has largely centered around the future of the U.S. healthcare system.

Obama’s namesake healthcare law – Obamacare – has come under increased criticism from Democrats, including leading progressives Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, senators who are pushing for a single-payer healthcare system that would all but eliminate private insurance.

Biden delivered a complete endorsement of Obamacare — essentially calling for the addition of a public option that Obama backed when the Affordable Care Act was passed but was removed in order to generate enough support to get it approved.

“Obamacare is working,” Biden said. “The way to build this and get to it immediately is to build on Obamacare.”

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, who is in the top tier of candidates, took a swipe at the law, saying it is not stopping insurance companies from profiting.

“Senator Biden, your plan will keep and allow insurance companies to remain with status quo, doing business as usual, and that’s going to be about jacking up co-pays, jacking up deductibles,” Harris said.

At times Biden did try to distance himself from Obama. He said he advised Obama not to implement a troop surge in Iraq.

But when pressed by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on the Obama administration’s large number of deportations of undocumented immigrants, Biden refused to say how he advised the president at the time.

“I was vice president, I kept my recommendations to the president in private, unlike you, who I would expect you would say whatever was said,” Biden shot back.

Even Trump invoked the name of the former president. He wrote on Twitter during the debate that “cages for kids were built by the Obama Administration” and arguing “he had the policy of child separation,” an issue that has been a lightning rod for the current president’s administration.

U.S. Senator Cory Booker criticized Biden for his sponsorship of the 1994 crime bill, which has been blamed for leading to mass incarceration of black people.

Biden again pointed to his work in the Obama administration.

“The president of the United States, Barack Obama, went out of his way to try to change the system and he got pushed back significantly,” Biden said.

Booker was frustrated by the answer.

“First of all, Mr. Vice President, you can’t have it both ways,” Booker said. “You invoke President Obama more than anybody in this campaign.  You can’t do it when it’s convenient and then dodge it when it’s not.”

(Reporting by Ginger Gibson, editing by Soyoung Kim and Jonathan Oatis)

Trump condemns slavery in Jamestown speech amid controversy over prior incendiary remarks

JAMESTOWN, Va. (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump, under fire in Washington for verbal attacks on racial minority lawmakers, condemned American slavery on Tuesday at the 400th anniversary of the first legislative assembly in Virginia and was briefly interrupted by a protesting state legislator.

Trump gave a scripted speech at the site of the first legislative assembly in Jamestown, Virginia, after touring the Jamestownchurch and a mock 1619 village.

In his remarks, he honored the first people to form a government in what would become the United States but also recognized their importation of slaves in 1619 in the same region.

“It was the beginning of a barbaric trade of human lives,” he said. “Today in honor, we remember every sacred soul who suffered the horrors of slavery and the anguish of bondage.”

Trump‘s comments, in which he also honored African Americans’ contributions to U.S. history and quoted civil rights leader Rev. Martin Luther King Junior, followed two weeks of incendiary remarks about four Democratic women of color in the U.S. House of Representatives and an African-American lawmaker, Elijah Cummings, all of whom have been sharp critics of the president.

Trump has blasted Cummings for not doing more to improve the plight of Baltimore, a largely black city, which he said is rodent-infested. Trump has faced accusations of racism and bigotry for the remarks.

A protester interrupts U.S. President Donald Trump as he speaks at an event celebrating the 400th anniversary of the first meeting (July 30, 1619) of the Virginia state legislature in Historic Jamestowne in Williamsburg, Virginia (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

Virginia’s black state legislators had said they would boycott Trump‘s appearance after his harsh comments about the minority members of Congress. A statement from the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said it was “impossible to ignore the emblem of hate and disdain that the president represents” while he continues to “promulgate policies that harm marginalized communities and use racist and xenophobic rhetoric.”

Trump‘s address in Jamestown was interrupted briefly by Democratic Virginia Delegate Ibraheem Samirah, who shouted and held up a sign that said: “Go back to your corrupted home. Deport hate. Reunite my family and all those shattered by systemic discrimination.”

Samirah, a Palestinian American dentist, later said in a Twitter post that he had disrupted Trump‘s speech at Jamestown “because nobody’s racism and bigotry should be excused for the sake of being polite.”

“The man is unfit for office and unfit to partake in a celebration of democracy, representation and our nation’s history of immigrants,” Samirah said.

The Virginia Republican Party later released a statement accusing Samirah of being anti-Semitic.

 

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Editing by Bill Trott)

New York state decriminalizes pot, stops short of Cuomo’s legalization call

NEW YORK (Reuters) – New York state on Monday decriminalized recreational marijuana use, meaning possession of small amounts of the drug will be punished with fines rather than jail time, a step short of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s goal of legalizing pot.

Cuomo said the measure would also allow a mechanism for clearing the records of people who had been criminally convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana.

Eleven U.S. states plus the District of Columbia have fully legalized recreational marijuana use since Colorado first did so in 2014, according to the Marijuana Policy Project lobbying group. Another 15 states including New York have decriminalized it.

“By providing individuals who have suffered the consequences of an unfair marijuana conviction with a path to have their records expunged and by reducing draconian penalties, we are taking a critical step forward in addressing a broken and discriminatory criminal justice process,” said Cuomo.

Over 360,000 people were arrested for possession of marijuana in the state of New York from 2008 to 2017, according to data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Democratic governor said in December that legalizing recreational marijuana use was one of his top legislative priorities for 2019, a reverse from his position on the issue during his previous two terms. He argued that revenue from taxing the drug could help address a number of needs, including New York City’s troubled subway system, which is desperately in need of major repairs and upgrades. A state report at the time estimated the legal market for marijuana at between $1.7 billion and $3.5 billion annually.

New York lawmakers’ efforts to legalize marijuana collapsed in June amid disagreement among Democrats on how to regulate the industry, prompting the introduction of the decriminalization bill.

The failure to legalize marijuana fully highlights a split among New York Democrats, who control both of the state‘s legislative chambers after capturing the state senate in November’s elections.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. During the administration of former President Barack Obama, the U.S. government largely permitted states to determine how to handle the issue on their own, but the Justice Department under President Donald Trump has allowed prosecutors to enforce federal law even in states where marijuana is legal.

(Reporting by Matthew Lavietes; Editing by Scott Malone, David Gregorio, and Dan Grebler)

What To Look For When Hiring Moving Companies

Hiring the right movers in Oklahoma City and surrounding areas can be tough and overwhelming. This is because of lack of time, experience and also because of the fact that there are so many of them out there. You may be confused as to where and when to start looking for the right moving companies. Unless you do your research and choose the right professionals, it is quite possible that your entire moving experience could be bad and even nightmarish in some cases. You must take lessons from those who have moved their personal belongings. Many of them have put their thoughts on paper and it is available on the internet and other places. Based on their inputs, we can come out with a broad checklist of the various points to be kept in mind while hiring these professionals. We are happy to share a few of them so that the customers can take an informed and knowledgeable decision.

 Know The Type Of Mover You Need To Hire

 Before you get into the actual job of finding the right moving and packing company in Edmond, be sure about your requirements. The type of belongings that you have will determine the type of moving company that you should be on the lookout for. You must have a clear understanding between intrastate and interstate movers. This will impact the pricing and also the kind of documentation and other formalities that need to be gone through.

 Research And Then Decide

 Hurrying through the process of hiring the right moving company is not advised. You will certainly make mistakes and end up choosing the wrong professionals. It would be advisable to check at least 10 packers and movers and have a close look at their reputation, goodwill, history, experience and expertise, and other such things. You also must decide whether you will do the packing or hand it over to these professionals. Though you might save some money by packing things on your own, it would be better to get it done by professionals. They will do a much better job of it and your time will not be blocked and you can concentrate on other important things.

 Stay Away From Rogue Movers

 You must try and stay away from movers who are suspicious and perhaps even dubious. There are some tell-tale signs of rogue movers and you must learn to find out their motives. For example, you could have movers who offer unbelievably low rates. While being competitive is one thing, offering ridiculously low rates is something you must be careful about. Further, you also could come across movers who ask for an initial deposit before starting their work. This again is a clear sign that something is amiss and it would be advisable to stay away from such moving companies.

 They Must Offer No-Strings-Attached Quote

 Quality moving companies never insist on any payments for offering quotes. Hence, you must be sure that you get in touch only with those movers who are ready to offer no-strings-attached offers and quotes. Yes, Professional Norman Movers offer only a few days validity as far as these quotes are concerned and this is very much fine.

Black Founder Creates Meditation App for People of Color

Julio Rivera found a deep-seated need to connect to the wellness space. As an Afro-Latino, he found a practice that worked for him at the New York Insight Meditation Center. When that was taken away due to an intensive schedule, he felt extremely isolated which caused a sudden onset of anxiety that he wasn’t sure how to cope with.

After a thorough search, he discovered there wasn’t a platform out there that specifically met his needs. Rivera took his knowledge and background as a software engineer and created Liberate Meditation. It’s a meditation app for people of color built to provide empowerment and support.

The site states that it’s dedicated to empowering the black, indigenous, and people of color communities on their journey to find inner peace. Folks can sign up for free to access from instructors of color on their path through guided meditations and talks.

“We want to help empower people, not only to meditate but to show them that there’s something you can do about your suffering,” said Rivera in a statement. “We can help each other get free and be liberated.”

The platform showcases content that is specific to the black community. Topics range from dealing with microaggressions to cultivating loving-kindness for difficult people. There are specific chats from unique authors like Jan Willis who hosts dharma talks addressing the intersection of Buddhism and racism.

Meditation App for People of Color

(Image: Liberate Meditation)

Users can select time frames for their practices that range from five to 20 minutes. They are then asked to rate their experience through the platform. “We continuously see how touched people are,” said Rivera. “A few people have mentioned in their ratings that they cried during their meditation and were able to release pent up emotions. To me, that makes all the challenges and sacrifices that come with building a business worth it. I want folks of color all over the world to know that they are not alone.”

Currently, Liberate Meditation is available for both Apple and Android.

Beyoncé’s Stylist Ty Hunter Shares How He Has Had Longevity In The Game

Ty Hunter is one of the most humble and fashionable souls in the game. Although many associate him with being the two-decades-long stylist for Beyoncé, he is also a motivational speaker, soon-to-be author, a loving father and son, and just all-around awesome human being.

I had many ‘aha moments’ during my recent podcast interview with Hunter and identified four key pillars that have assisted with his massive success and longevity in the game.

 

1. Shake Things Up in a Major Way

We know by now that we must be OK with the idea of getting uncomfortable in order to succeed. Ty Hunter teaches us that positive change usually comes as a result of shaking things up in a major way. He shook up his life and left his medical field career behind in Austin, Texas, and headed to Houston. In Houston, he worked at a clothing store by the name of Booyaka where he did window dressings and displays and later worked at Guess and Bebe. During this time, he met and began building relationships with “Ms. Tina” (Beyoncé’s mom, Tina Lawson) and “the girls” (Destiny’s Child) who often came into the stores.

After Destiny’s Child’s Independent Women dropped, Tina Knowles told him she will get him out of that store one day. While he didn’t quite believe her at the time, three weeks later she called him on his day off from work and was given the opportunity to work on the Survivor music video. “The rest, as they say, is history,” Hunter recalls.

2. Step Out on Faith with Confidence

Ty Hunter is a go-getter who was never intimidated by big names. Because of this, he often confidently steps out on faith.

“I always knew that I wanted more and I wanted something different from the norm. I’ve always just stepped out on faith. I just feel like once you have a vision or a dream, you just gotta go for it… I don’t believe in being one of those people [who say] ‘I wish I coulda,’ shoulda.’ I try to keep those out of my vocabulary. I just go for it…People tend to get in a room and feel like they don’t belong. I belong in any room God puts me in,” Hunter affirms.

3. Roll with The Punches

Hunter has had his moments of despair and openly shares his struggles with depression. He makes it clear, however, that he refuses to stay there for too long.

“It’s OK to have a down time and depression. You can have that moment where you order pizza, have ice-cream in the bed, and are crying. You’re supposed to, we’re human,” he said.

When going through a tough time, however, he writes himself a message to ‘snap out of it’ and posts it on his bathroom mirror as a reminder that he has given himself the time needed and it’s time to roll with the punches and get back up.

“It’s OK to have a bad day but make sure you put an expiration on that bad day,” he urges.

Another thing that he finds works well for him and his friends during sad moments is to call a photographer friend for a photoshoot. He simply picks out clothes, prepares them on a rack, and heads out to shoot.

He believes that you can have everything in the world you think you want, but until you learn to live with and love yourself, none of those things will be enough. You must know who you are and what you enjoy doing, then make sure you go out and do those things. 

4. Remain Humble

Some may call Ty Hunter “lucky,” but he attributes his blessings to simply being a good person. He has not allowed his success to change his caring nature, “You’ve got to be good to people…you get what you put out.”

He shared that you could be the richest person, you still must look at the next man as your brother. “You cannot feel that you are superior to anybody because you’re not. There’s a higher power.”

He believes that once you put good out and treat everybody as equals and with respect, good comes your way, “The maid, the housekeeper, the front desk—treat everybody the same. Let them know ‘I see you’ and ‘you’re not invisible’, then good things will happen to you. That’s how I was blessed. And that’s how I’ve had longevity in this game,” he shared. 

What Ty Hunter Is Up To At The Moment

Ty Hunter has quite the résumé and is still adding to his massive list of accomplishments. He is currently working on a book and is very passionate about motivating people to live their best lives. He has helped so many struggling with tough times through his uplifting Instagram posts @TyTryOne and through motivational speaking.

To hear more from Ty Hunter, check out a recent interview I did with him for my Freedom Slay Podcast.


Black Enterprise Contributors Network 

 

White University of Mississippi Students Pose With Guns in Front of Emmett Till Memorial

A shocking image surfaced on Instagram: Three white University of Mississippi students posing with guns next to a memorial sign dedicated to the black teenager, Emmett Till, who was murdered in 1955.

According to The New York Times, two of the students in the photo have been identified as Ben Leclere and John Lowe. All three are members of the fraternity Kappa Alpha.

In the photo, one of the students holds a shotgun. Another brandishes an AK-47. The memorial sign is bullet-ridden. According to ProPublica, which first reported on the photo—it isn’t clear if the students shot the sign.

Emmett Till

Emmett Till (Wikimedia)

NYT reports that the students have been suspended by their fraternity. “The photo is inappropriate, insensitive, and unacceptable,” and “does not represent our chapter,” stated the Kappa Alpha fraternity chapter.

However, the fraternity is known for prior racist activities. As per ProPublica, “The fraternity, which honors Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee as its “spiritual founder” on its website, has a history of racial controversy, including an incident in which students wore blackface at a Kappa Alpha sponsored Halloween party at the University of Virginia in 2002.”

The photo has since been turned over to the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. The students have not been suspended from the university. A spokesperson from the university told The New York Times that while the photo was “offensive,” the students did not violate the school’s code of conduct.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice said it was reopening the murder case of Till 63 years after the 14-year-old was brutally murdered for allegedly whistling at a white woman in Mississippi. Federal officials announced that it launched an investigation into the case based on “new information” received about Till’s kidnapping, torture, and murder.

News that the DOJ was reopening Till’s case was first reported by the Associated Press after the Justice Department sent a report to Congress in March under the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016, a bill authorized by President Barack Obama granting feds the ability to investigate unsolved civil rights murders committed before 1970.

New revelations about Till’s death were published in the 2017 book The Blood of Emmett Till by historian Timothy B. Tyson.

Till was a native of Chicago visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi, when he was accused of making sexual advances toward Carolyn Donham, 21, at a grocery store. Her then-husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother J.W. Milam were charged with killing Till but were acquitted by an all-white jury. Bryant and Milam later admitted to a reporter the next year that they beat and shot the teen before dumping his body in the Tallahatchie River. They were not retried due to double jeopardy laws.

—Additional reporting by Selena Hill