CUNY Student Starts Petition to Cancel School Production of Emmett Till Opera Written by White Woman

The play was written by Clare Coss (pictured) — as the play explores themes of social justice, white silence, and racial inequality, according to its synopsis.

A petition to cancel a CUNY school production of an opera about Emmett Till written by a white woman was gaining steam Saturday.

More than 11,000 people had signed the appeal to close the curtains on “Emmett Till, A New American Opera” at John Jay College’s Gerald W. Lynch Theatre next week, agreeing with a student who said the show was about the librettist Clare Coss’ “white guilt.”

Emmett Till was 14 when he was lynched for allegedly flirting with a white woman in Mississippi in 1955. His brutal murder became a rallying cry in the civil rights movement.

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The play, written by Coss and composed by Mary D. Watkins, who is black, “explores themes of social justice, the flaws within the justice system, white silence and allyship, racial inequality and the complexities of the human experience,” according to its synopsis.

Petition author Mya Bishop alleged the opera frames the tragedy through the eyes of a “fictional progressive white woman,” a teacher in the production.

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SOURCE: New York Post, Jesse O’Neill

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