Taraji P. Henson has finally broken her silence to defend her former Empire castmate Jussie Smollett after he was sentenced last week to 150 days in jail.

Jusseie x Emmett

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Taraji Breaks Her Silence

Actress Taraji P. Henson has finally broken her silence about the trial of her TV son, Jussie Smollett. Henson posted on Instagram with an attached image with the hashtag #FREEJUSSIE. She said, “I am not here to debate you on his innocence but we can all agree that the punishment does not fit the crime.” 

She even went as far as comparing the situation to the horrific attack on Emmett Till, saying “Emmett Till was brutally beat and murdered because of a lie and none of the people involved spent one day in jail, even after Carolyn Bryant admitted that her claims were false.”

Carolyn Bryant is the Mississippi white woman who accused 14-year-old Emmett Till of making a pass at her in 1955.  Carolyn’s husband later kidnapped and lynched Till but was never convicted of either crime by the all-white jury in the Jim Crow South. Bryant later recanted part of her accusation to author Timothy Tyson in a 2008 interview.  

Jussie Smollet was sentenced on March 10 to 5 months in prison for lying about being attacked during a hate crime in 2019. 

The comparison to Till comes at an interesting time as President Joe Biden is expected to sign the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act which both Congress and the Senate passed last week. The passage of the bill would make lynching based upon race a federal hate crime with a minimum prison sentence of 30 years. The bill has gone through over 200 attempts to pass over a 100-year time span. The Till family is still seeking justice even though the Justice Department headed by Merrick Garland put an end to the case in December.

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The Anti-Lynching Bill

Emmett Till, a teenager who was murdered to uphold white supremacy, sparked the civil rights movement. An anti-lynching bill in his name is awaiting signature by President Joe Biden and an opera interpretation of the story is heading to a stage in NYC.

Jussie Smollett will get 5 months in prison for lying about a hate crime in 2019. Though Smollett still claims he is innocent, his sentencing was originally met with public silence from the fallen star’s colleagues and even his own sister.