Where We’re Going, Where We Are: On Harriet Tubman, Wal-Mart and The North Star

Max S. Gordon
14 min readNov 14, 2019

by Max S. Gordon

(The piece premiered at the First Person Plural Reading Series: What Just Happened? Writers Respond to Our American Crises — 2019 Edition, Harlem, New York, November 10, 2019.)



Before you can decide where you are going, you have to know where you are. Here’s where we are:

White supremacists recently desecrated the grave of Emmett Till. You may remember Emmett Till was a black child from Chicago, a 14-year-old boy, who was visiting relatives in Mississippi in 1955 when he was accused of disrespecting a white woman in her family’s store. Her husband and brother-in-law responded by kidnapping Till, torturing and murdering him. When his body was found he had been mutilated.

His mother, Mamie Till Bradley, insisted that her son’s coffin would be left open for the world to see what had been done to her child. The men who murdered Till were acquitted by an all-white jury, and admitted to killing Till after the trial. Till became a symbol of the perversity and grotesqueness of Southern racism. There were many men and women lynched and violated in the South and North as Till was, and we will never know all their names or faces…



Max S. Gordon

Max S. Gordon is a writer and activist. His work has appeared in on-line and print magazines in the U.S. and internationally. Follow Max on twitter:@maxgordon19