Oprah Winfrey just delivered a powerful statement about police killings of African Americans outside the new civil rights museum in Washington, DC.
In an interview with celebrity gossip site TMZ, the veteran television talk show host and media mogul described the Emmett Till exhibit as the most emotionally jarring part of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Winfrey credited the lynching of Till as the catalyst for the historic civil rights movement in the US, and equated the recent spate of black men killed by law enforcement officers to lynchings during the civil rights era:
“You think about what’s happening in our country today, with black men, unarmed, being shot, it’s like a new Emmett Till every week,” Winfrey told TMZ. “When that happened, the country had never seen anything like that demonstrated, and now you see it.”
Winfrey also said one of the most jaw-dropping exhibits in the new museum was a wall depicting the name of every lynching victim during the Jim Crow era. As Quartz reported earlier this year, there were more African Americans killed by police in 2015 than lynchings in 1892, which the site referred to as the worst year of Jim Crow. That year, there were 161 lynchings of black people, whereas police killed 258 African Americans in 2015. As of September 23, 2016, police have killed an estimated 214 black people this year.
This isn’t the first time Oprah Winfrey has spoken out about police violence. In 2014, she extolled the Black Lives Matter movement’s mobilization in the wake of the killings of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.
“My feeling is everything is always happening exactly as it should and on time,” Winfrey said in December 2014. “There’s no coincidence that this is happening now, but because it’s happening now, people are paying more attention.”
Zach Cartwright is an activist and author from Richmond, Virginia. He enjoys writing about politics, government, and the media. Send him an email at [email protected], and follow his work on the Public Banking Institute blog.