Remembering Emmett Till
Emmett Till was a 14-year-old boy from Chicago who traveled to Mississippi in August of 1955 to visit relatives. He was accused of flirting with the white married daughter of a grocery store owner. A few days after the alleged incident, Till was abducted, tortured, lynched and thrown in the Tallahatchie River. It was possible to identify Till’s body only because of an initial ring he wore on one finger.
At first, some wanted to bury the teenager quickly. His mother, however, demanded that her only son’s body be returned to Chicago. Then she made the difficult and courageous decision to hold a public funeral with an open casket. Both of the men accused of Till’s murder were acquitted by a jury that deliberated for less than an hour. Apparently, their lawyer had proven his case that the body could not be identified definitively as that of Till.
Years later, the white daughter of the grocery store owner recanted her testimony. You can learn much more about this horrific incident online or in several books published more recently.
Eight years to the day after Till’s murder, another landmark event occurred. It was on 28 August 1963 that the March on Washington took protesters to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Where are we now? This is a question that each must ponder.
Rebecca L. Sherrick, PhD