The Power of History: Turning Tragedy into Triumph
Dec 09, 2020 12:00 PM
Deborah Watts, Emmett Till Legacy Foundation
The Power of History: Turning Tragedy into Triumph

Deborah Watts is the co-founder and board president of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation (ETLF) and the Emmett Till Institute for Learning and Leadership (E-TILL). Founded in 2005, ETLF is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to preserving the memory and legacy of Deborah Watt's cousin, Emmett Louis Till. After spending 22 years in Corporate America, Ms. Watts became the CEO of Watts-Five Enterprises, an international marketing, management and business consulting organization. As the successful author of 101 Ways to Know You're "Black" in Corporate America, she provides a voice to the voiceless by exposing racism and discrimination experienced by people of color in corporate America. Ms. Watts serves as a guest speaker and facilitator conducting seminars and workshops to spark dialogue in corporate settings about the value of diversity/inclusion and the importance of creating healthy multicultural workplaces and relationships. Ms. Watts is a recipient of US President Obama's Lifetime Achievement Award. She was made Entrepreneur of the Year by the National Black MBA Association's Twin Cities Chapter. The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation was nominated and selected to participate as a Change Maker at the 2016 White House Summit on the United State of Women. Among so many prestigious awards for racial justice and women's leadership, Ms. Watts received the Women's Leadership Coalitions' Inspiration Award; the Martin Luther King Scholarship Association Award by Seton Hall University; the 2018 Frank Morris Racial Justice Civil and Human Rights Award by the Cold Case Justice Initiative at Syracuse University College of Law; and the 2019 Justice Award from Chad Cooper Company for her dedication to finding justice for Emmett and other victims of racially-motivated murders. Ms. Watts has held numerous organizational board positions including the St. Paul Urban League, and was a charter member and former president of the Minneapolis-University Rotary Club where she helped to create a Pathogen Free Blood supply initiative and Computer Literacy program at the College of Algoa Bay both in South Africa. She has served on the Women's Leadership Coalition and the St. Paul NAACP Communications Committee.

The murder of Emmett Till in August of 1955 became one of the pivotal moments of the American Civil Rights Movement because of the tireless efforts of his mother Mamie Till Mobley. Emmett, who was from Chicago, was visiting his relatives in Money, Mississippi, when he was kidnapped, tortured and murdered for whistling at a white woman. For the first time there was visible proof of the horrors of the racism and terror that many Blacks were experiencing in the South. The Emmett Till case today has led to new investigations into dozens of unsolved murders from the early days of the fight against segregation. In this presentation, you will learn that there is an undying interest in Emmett Till from people all over the world, including Emmett Till's family and the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation (ETLF) who still want answers today. You will learn how the ETLF, established in 2005 by co-founder and Till Family member Deborah Watts, commemorates the memory of Emmett's murder and dedicates its ongoing efforts to turning an ugly part of American History into a positive, inspired and empowered future for youth, women, men and families of the movement in America and across the world. 

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