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57 years ago today in America - do YOU know this story?

Posted by on Aug. 28, 2012 at 9:27 PM
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Teen Emmett Till Victim Of Kidnapping, Brutal Murder On This Day In 1955

Emmett Till StoryStanding as one of the most-heinous, race-motivated crimes in America's history, the kidnapping and savage lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till (pictured) in Mississippi still stirs embers of anger in the minds of many who have endured racism and injustice. Considered a transformative moment in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, Till's death shocked a nation and still resonates deeply in the minds of Mississippians and others abroad.

SEE ALSO: Remembering The Houston Race Riot Of 1917

The circumstances surrounding Emmett's death remain murky. His murder was supposedly sparked by Emmett making inappropriate advances toward a 21-year-old White woman, while visiting his mother's home state in the Mississippi Delta region. Till and Curtis Jones went to buy sweet treats from a local market, Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market. Later, testimony from Jones stated that Till, a Chicago resident, bragged to him and other teens about his integrated school and a supposed White girlfriend. The moment supposedly prompted the boys to dare Emmett to speak to Carolyn Bryant, wife of store owner 24-year-old Roy Bryant.

Several accounts have been reported of what Emmett Till actually said to the woman. Some reports say that Till wolf-whistled at Bryant, while others said he used suggestive language in a means to entice her. Carolyn Bryant later said that Till grabbed her around the waist and asked for a date and said that he used "unprintable" words as well.

Either way, word got back to Rob Bryant and he employed a Black friend to seize a young boy walking down the street - only to have his wife say that they had the wrong person. After discovering how to find their target, Roy Bryant, half-brother John Milam, and another man (who was rumored to be African-American) drove to Rev. Moses Wright's home, where Till was staying in the wee hours of the morning. Threatening violence to the other residents, they took Till and threw him in the back of a pick-up truck then drove off.

Emmet Till Story

They reportedly drove to a barn nearby and pistol whipped the boy while they continued to beat him as the men debated on what to do with him next. Rev. Wright went looking for him - but fearful of his life - neglected to call the police. Curtis Jones got word back to the police, and Emmett's mother, Mamie (pictured), was alerted that her son went missing. Bryant and Milam were questioned by local police and charged with kidnapping.

The news reached Mississippi NAACP state field secretary Medgar Evers and Bolivar County lead rep Amzie Moore, who both disguised themselves and entered the cotton fields of the region in order to find clues about Till's abduction.

Three days later, Till's body was found swollen with water and badly damaged in the Tallahatchie River. He had been shot, with evidence of a severe beating on his skin. A local Mississippi newspaper speculated that the body found was not Till because it couldn't be identified, even though Rev. Wright identified the body and retrieved a ring that Emmett wore. Amazingly enough, then-Mississippi Governor Hugh L. White was angered by the murder and sent notice to the NAACP that a full investigation was to take place.

Watch Emmett's tragic story here:

Emmet Till StoryFor Emmett's mother, the painful process of burying her child also became a nationwide event as she demanded her son's body be returned to Chicago with an open casket funeral (pictured above) to mark the brutality of the murder. Photos of the funeral appeared in the Chicago Defender and Jet magazine, inspiring protests and strong reactions from citizens both Black and White who found the crime to be extreme.

Although all evidence pointed to Bryant and Milam killing Emmett, a grand jury in November of that year neglected to indict the pair in the kidnapping of the boy, although they all but admitted their wrongdoing in an interview under the protection of double jeopardy.

Till's murder helped push along the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which allowed the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate in local matters.

While Bryant and Milam felt justified in their actions, they both died of cancer in their 60s. Holding steadfast to their racist pride, the pair would be haunted by the death of Emmett Till in every instance and never found peace again.

The kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till remains as one of Black America's most-sorrowful moments but also a galvanizing one as well. Even as many relive the incident each time they're exposed to it, there is some comfort that Emmett Till's mother fought to the end to fight such injustice across the country and that the legacy of eliminating hate crime still lives on to this day

by on Aug. 28, 2012 at 9:27 PM
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by Emerald Member on Aug. 28, 2012 at 10:03 PM


by Gina on Aug. 28, 2012 at 10:06 PM
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We learned about this in Modern American History (maybe it was was a while ago) in High School and we talked extensively about it and other killings of that time.

by Ruby Member on Aug. 28, 2012 at 10:07 PM
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Horriffic story.  I had heard it before, but not with this kind of detail.  We should never forget.  Thanks for the post.

by on Aug. 28, 2012 at 10:07 PM
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I do know this story. Now, as a mother of boys, this story breaks my heart even more. I cannot imagine the pain and hate she must have endured...
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by Gold Member on Aug. 28, 2012 at 10:08 PM
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I have never heard of this story...that poor child :(
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by on Aug. 28, 2012 at 10:08 PM
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This is just horrific :(
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by Member on Aug. 28, 2012 at 10:11 PM
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I am from and now live in Mississippi and this is a well known story here.

by on Aug. 28, 2012 at 10:28 PM
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Wow. I have never seen the crime scene photos.  I can't imagine what kind of horror a few horrible men meted out to that child.  We need to remember these incidents lest we repeat them.

by Bronze Member on Aug. 30, 2012 at 3:10 AM

I knew about it, but not in this much detail.  TFS

by Mahinaarangi on Aug. 30, 2012 at 6:30 AM
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sad sad sad.  Damn the injustice and having to accept it was just horrible

That poor mother.  I remember this on a documentary I saw years ago....I thought she was an incredibly strong woman.  Its a damn shame those men lived to 60...more than enough time to pass on their hatred to their kids and grandkids. 

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