Emmett Till’s Murder changed the world (August 28, 1955) - History Key

Emmett Till’s Murder changed the world (August 28, 1955)

Emmett Till, an African-American teenager, was only 14 years old when he was brutally murdered because he flirted with a white woman in Mississippi in 1955. The tragic story highlighted the issues of civil rights.

Emmett Till
Emmett Till © Image Source: biography.com

Why?

Till, originally from Chicago, visited his relatives in Money, Mississippi in August 1955 when he spoke and possibly flirted with Carolyn Bryant, a 21-year-old white girl who was also the co-owner of a local food market. The teenager seems to have invited her to a meeting. A few nights later, Roy, Carolyn’s husband, and J.W. Milam, Roy’s step brother, went to Till’s grandfather’s house. They grabbed Till out of the house and brutally beat him. After they threw all the punches, they shot him in the head. His body was thrown into the Tallahatchie River.  

Mamie Till, mourning after her child
Mamie Till, mourning after her child © Image Source: time.com

Impact

Mamie, Till’s mother, insisted that the funeral to be public with an open coffin. The image of the mutilated boy shocked the entire country (The coffin is now at the Smithsonian Museum). In September 1955, Bryant and Milam were acquitted of what they did, even though they admitted that they had killed him.

Mamie Till Mobley weeps at her son’s funeral in Chicago. Emmett Till was so badly beaten that his body was not recognizable. But his mother insisted on an open casket so the world could see the horrors of racism - Sept. 6, 1955
Mamie Till Mobley weeps at her son’s funeral in Chicago. Emmett Till was so badly beaten that his body was not recognizable. But his mother insisted on an open casket so the world could see the horrors of racism – Sept. 6, 1955 © Image Source: ajc.com

Mamie made a tour with the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People which she told her son’s story. The moment is considered a critical point for the civil rights movement.

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