EMMETT LOUIS TILL (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955)

“If we Americans are to survive it will have to be because we choose and elect and defend to be first of all Americans; to present to the world one homogeneous and unbroken front, whether of white Americans or black ones or purple or blue or green. Maybe the purpose of this sorry and tragic error committed in my native Mississippi by two white adults on an afflicted Negro child is to prove to us whether or not we deserve to survive. Because if we in America have reached that point in our desperate culture when we must murder children, no matter for what reason or what color, we don’t deserve to survive, and probably won’t.

William Faulkner, a statement regarding the Emmett Till murder.

 
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Today is the birthday of Emmett Louis “Bobo” Till. If he had lived his life and not had it brutally taken from him by two racists, he would be sixty-nine years old today.
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Carolyn Bryant, the woman whose accusations started it all.

Carolyn Dunham (remarried after divorcing  Roy Bryant). She was 70-years-old at the time in this image taken in August, 2004, by a 60 Minutes video crew.
Roy Bryant (left); J.W. Milam (right).
Milam and Bryant, jubilant after their trial acquittal.
 Large Photo
In 1955 a Mississippi jury (seated in the first two rows) acquitted the two white men of murdering Emmett Till, 14. (SOURCE)
He was just a little 14-year-old child, who was vacationing in Money. MS with relatives, when he entered the store of a racist, and his life ended that week. With conflicting stories that still ciculate to this day, on August 24, 1955, Emmett went with a cousin and friends to the grocery store of Roy Bryant, where there he encountered the wife of Bryant—-Carolyn Bryant.
According to accounts, Emmett was supposed to have said to Bryant: “Hey, baby,” proceeded to come behind the counter and held her arm,and then was also supposed to have “wolf-whistled” at her. Emmett and his cousin and another friend who was with them, then left the store.
Emmett considered the matter ended. Little did Emmett know, he crossed an unforgivable boundary in the sadistic, twisted world of Southern white supremacy: a Black male—whether man or boy—was never to have any contact with a White female, no matter what shape or form that contact came in.
On August 28, 1955, in the dead of night, a pounding knock came on the door of the home of his great-uncle, Rev. Mose Wright, where Emmett was staying. Arriving at the home in a car, the intruders were Roy Bryant, husband of Carolyn Brayant, his half-brother, J.W. Milam, Bryant’s wife Carolyn Bryant, and another unidentified person in the vehicle. Bryant asked Emmett “Are you the nigger who did the talking?”, and Emmett answered, “Yeah.” They then told Emmett, “You’re coming with us.
They demanded that Emmett come with them to answer for his “crime” of reckless eyeballing and disrespect of a White woman. There was nothing Rev. Wright could do to keep the craven White men from kidnapping his nephew. At about 12:30 a.m. on Sunday, August 28, 1955, they took Emmett and drove him to a weathered shed on a plantation in neighboring Sunflower County, where there they viciously beat, mutilated, tortured, stomped, cut on, and savaged little Emmett.
After gouging out one of Emmett’s eyes, and inflicting the most horrible of atrocities upon his young, defenseless, and innocent body, they shot him in the head at point blank range. Afterwards, they with no regard you would give a dog, threw his body into the Tallahatchie River, with a 70-pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire.
His body was discovered and retrieved from the river three days later by two boys fishing. Emmett’s mother, Mrs. Mamie Till, had sent her son down to Mississippi to stay with relatives. Never did she expect her only child to meet death at the hands of White men who represented the worst of so-called “Southern Chivalry”—-chivalry that was at its most hypocrisy: the all-out, at any cost to Black human life, “protection” of White women; but, on the other hand, the abuse, rape, sexual coercion and debasement of Black women and girls, as their Southern White male “right”.
When preparing her son for his funeral, Mrs. Till decided on an open coffin with a glass lid area that would show to the world the venomous inhuman cruelties the racists committed against her son.
A telegram Emmett Till's mother, Mamie Bradley, sent to President Eisenhower that pleads for action.
National Archives and Records Administration
A telegram Emmett Till’s mother, Mamie Bradley, sent to President Eisenhower that pleads for action. SOURCE
Jet Magazine published photos of Emmet’s battered and disfigured face for a horrified world to see.
Bryant and Milam were later tried for the crime of torturing and murdering Emmett, but, they were immediately acquitted by an all-male, all-White jury. Months later, they sold their story of how they destroyed little Emmett, to William Bradford Huie, a reporter from Look Magazine, in an article entitled Wolf Whistle. Their monstrous crime shocked and angered America and the world.
Not long after, the Montgomery Bus Boycott of Montgomery, AL, began.
Milam died of cancer at the Veteran’s Hospital in Jackson, Mississippi on December 31, 1980, at the age of 61 . Bryant also died of cancer at the Baptist Hospital in Jackson on September 1, 1994, at the age of 63.

The murderers never expressed any remorse for Emmett’s death and seemed to feel that they had done no wrong. In fact, a few months before he died, Bryant complained bitterly in an interview that he had never made as much money off Emmett’s death as he deserved and that it had ruined his life.
Mrs. Till-Mobley, Emmett’s mother, outlived the two murderers by living to the age of 81 years, having passed away on January 6, 2003.
Mrs. Till-Mobley. (IMAGE SOURCE)
I wish to acknowledge and honor Emmett and the lasting legacy of his death to free America from its vicious racism and racial hatred.
Mrs. Till’s strength and determination to show the world what white supremacy racist hate had done to her son, and Emmett’s death, were the catalysts that helped sparked the modern Civil Rights Movement.
Enough was enough, and the suffering that millions of Black Americans endured was brought before the eyes of the world, with the movement that refused to allow any longer the continued destruction of Jane Crow segregation.
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TIMELINE: THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL: 1921 – 1954 http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/till/timeline/index.html

TIMELINE: THE MURDER OF EMMETT TILL: 1955 – 2003 http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/till/timeline/timeline2.html
1921-1954 | 1955-2003
1955 May 7: The Reverend George Lee, a grocery owner and NAACP field worker in Belzoni, Mississippi, is shot and killed at point blank range while driving in his car after trying to vote. A few weeks later in Brookhaven, Mississippi, Lamar Smith, another black man, is shot and killed in front of the county courthouse, in broad daylight and before witnesses, after casting his ballot. Both victims had been active in voter registration drives. No one will be arrested in connection with either murder. August 19: A day before her son is to leave for a summer stay with family in Mississippi, Mamie Till gives Emmett the ring once owned by his father, Louis Till. It is inscribed with the initials L.T.August 20: Mamie Till rushes her son Emmett to the 63rd Street station in Chicago to catch the southbound train to Money, Mississippi.August 21: Emmett Till arrives in Money, Mississippi, and goes to stay at the home of his great uncle Moses Wright.August 24: Emmett joins a group of teenagers, seven boys and one girl, to go to Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market for refreshments to cool off after a long day of picking cotton in the hot sun. Bryant’s Grocery, owned by a white couple, Roy and Carolyn Bryant, sells supplies and candy to a primarily black clientele of sharecroppers and their children. Emmett goes into the store to buy bubble gum. Some of the kids outside the store will later say they heard Emmett whistle at Carolyn Bryant.

August 28: About 2:30 a.m., Roy Bryant, Carolyn’s husband, and his half brother J. W. Milam, kidnap Emmett Till from Moses Wright’s home. They will later describe brutally beating him, taking him to the edge of the Tallahatchie River, shooting him in the head, fastening a large metal fan used for ginning cotton to his neck with barbed wire, and pushing the body into the river.
August 29: J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant are arrested on kidnapping charges in LeFlore County in connection with Till’s disappearance. They are jailed in Greenwood, Mississippi and held without bond.
August 31: Three days later, Emmett Till’s decomposed corpse is pulled from Mississippi’s Tallahatchie River. Moses Wright identifies the body from a ring with the initials L.T.
September 1: Mississippi Governor Hugh White orders local officials to “fully prosecute” Milam and Bryant in the Till case.
September 2: In Chicago, Mamie Till arrives at the Illinois Central Terminal to receive Emmett’s casket. She is surrounded by family and photographers who snap her photo collapsing in grief at the sight of the casket. The body is taken to the A. A. Rayner & Sons Funeral Home.
The Jackson [Mississippi] Daily News decries the “brutal, senseless crime” but complains that the NAACP is working “to arouse hatred and fear” by calling Till’s murder a lynching.
In Belgium, the newspaper Le Drapeau Rouge (the Red Flag), publishes a brief article entitled: “Racism in the USA: A young black is lynched in Mississippi.”
September 3: Emmett Till’s body is taken to Chicago’s Roberts Temple Church of God for viewing and funeral services. Emmett’s mother decides to have an open casket funeral. Thousands of Chicagoans wait in line to see Emmett’s brutally beaten body.
September 6: Emmett Till is buried at Burr Oak Cemetery.
The same day, a grand jury in Mississippi indicts Milam and Bryant for the kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till. They both plead innocent. They will be held in jail until the start of the trial.
September 15: Jet magazine, the nationwide black magazine owned by Chicago-based Johnson Publications, publishes photographs of Till’s mutilated corpse, shocking and outraging African Americans from coast to coast.
September 17: The black newspaper The Chicago Defender publishes photographs of Till’s corpse.
September 19: The kidnapping and murder trial of J. W. Milam and Roy Bryant opens in Sumner, Mississippi, the county seat of Tallahatchie County. Jury selection begins and, with blacks and white women banned from serving, an all-white, 12-man jury made up of nine farmers, two carpenters and one insurance agent is selected.
Mamie Till Bradley departs from Chicago’s Midway Airport to attend the trial.
September 20: Judge Curtis Swango recesses the court to allow more witnesses to be found. It is the first time in Mississippi history that local law enforcement, local NAACP leaders and black and white reporters team up to locate sharecroppers who saw Milam’s truck and overheard Emmett being beaten.
The French daily newspaper Le Monde runs an article reporting that the American public is following the Till case “with passionate attention.”
September 21: Moses Wright, Emmett Till’s great uncle, does the unthinkable — he accuses two white men in open court. While on the witness stand, he stands up and points his finger at Milam and Bryant, and accuses them of coming to his house and kidnapping Emmett.
September 23: Milam and Bryant are acquitted of murdering Emmett Till after the jury deliberates only 67 minutes. One juror tells a reporter that they wouldn’t have taken so long if they hadn’t stopped to drink pop. Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam stand before photographers, light up cigars and kiss their wives in celebration of the not guilty verdict.
Moses Wright and another poor black Mississippian who testified, Willie Reed, leave Mississippi and are smuggled to Chicago. Once there, Reed collapses and suffers a nervous breakdown.
September 26: In Belgium, two left-wing newspapers publish articles on the acquittal. Le Peuple, the daily Belgian Socialist newspaper, calls the acquittal “a judicial scandal in the United States.” Le Drapeau Rouge (the Red Flag) publishes: “Killing a black person isn’t a crime in the home of the Yankees: The white killers of young Emmett Till are acquitted!”
In France, L’Aurore newspaper publishes: “The Scandalous Acquittal in Sumner” and the daily newspaper Le Figaro adds: “The Shame of the Sumner Jury.”
September 27: The French daily newspaper Le Monde runs an article: “The Sumner Trial Marks, Perhaps, an Opening of Consciousness.”
September 28: In Germany, the newspaper Freies Volk publishes: “The Life of a Negro Isn’t Worth a Whistle.”
In France, the French Communist Party newspaper L’Humanité writes: “After the Mockery of Justice in Mississippi: Emotion in Paris.”
September 30: Milam and Bryant are released on bond. Kidnapping charges are pending.
October 15: The Memphis Commercial Appeal publishes an article reporting that Louis Till was executed by the U.S. Army in Italy in 1945 for raping two Italian women and killing a third. Mississippi Senator James O. Eastland has leaked the information to the press.
October 22: The American Jewish Committee in New York releases a report urging Congress to bolster Federal civil rights legislation in light of the Till case. Their report includes quotes from newspapers in six European countries expressing shock and outrage after the Till verdict.
November 9: Returning to Mississippi one last time, Moses Wright and Willie Reed testify before a LeFlore County grand jury in Greenwood, Mississippi. The grand jury refuses to indict Milam or Bryant for kidnapping. The two white men go free.
December 5: One hundred days after Emmett Till’s murder, Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat on a city bus, launching the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott and the civil rights movement. The boycott will last 381 days.
1956 January 24: Look magazine publishes an article written by Alabama journalist William Bradford Huie, entitled The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi. Huie has offered Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam $4,000 to tell how they killed Emmett Till. Milam speaks for the record.
1957 January 22: William Bradford Huie writes another article for Look magazine, “What’s Happened to the Emmett Till Killers?” Huie writes that “Milam does not regret the killing, though it has brought him nothing but trouble.” Blacks have stopped frequenting stores owned by the Milam and Bryant families and put them out of business. Bryant takes up welding for income, and both men are ostracized by the white community.
1959 April 25: Three days before his scheduled trial, Mack Charles Parker, a 23-year-old African American truck driver, is lynched by a hooded mob of white men in Poplarville, Mississippi. Parker had been accused of raping a pregnant white woman and was being held in a local jail. The mob takes him from his cell, beats him, takes him to a bridge, shoots and kills him, then weighs his body down with chains and dumps him in the river. Many people know the identity of the killers, but the community closes ranks and refuses to talk. Echoing the Till case, the FBI will investigate and identify at least 10 men involved, but the U.S. Department of Justice will rule there are no federal grounds to make an arrest and press charges. Two grand juries — one county and one federal — will adjourn without indictments.
1980 December: J. W. Milam dies in Mississippi of cancer.
1990 September: Roy Bryant dies in Mississippi of cancer.
2003 January 6: Mamie Till Mobley dies of heart failure, at age 81. Her death comes just two weeks before The Murder of Emmett Till is to premiere nationally on PBS.
1921-1954 | 1955-2003
The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi
By William Bradford Huie
Editors Note: In the long history of man’s inhumanity to man, racial conflict has produced some of the most horrible examples of brutality. The recent slaying of Emmett Till in Mississippi is a case in point. The editors of Look are convinced that they are presenting here, for the first time, the real story of that killing — the story no jury heard and no newspaper reader saw.
Disclosed here is the true account of the slaying in Mississippi of a Negro youth named Emmett Till.
Last September in Sumner, Miss., a petit jury found the youth’s admitted abductors not guilty of murder. In November, in Greenwood, a grand jury declined to indict them for kidnapping.
Of the murder trial, the Memphis Commercial Appeal said: “Evidence necessary for convicting on a murder charge was lacking.” But with truth absent, hypocrisy and myth have flourished. Now, hypocrisy can be exposed; myth dispelled. Here are the facts.
Carolyn Holloway Bryant is 21, five feet tall, weighs 103 pounds. An Irish girl, with black hair and black eyes, she is a small farmer’s daughter who, at 17, quit high school at Indianola, Miss., to marry a soldier, Roy Bryant, then 20, now 24. The couple have two boys, three and two; and they operate a store at a dusty crossroads called Money: post office, filling station and three stores clustered around a school and a gin, and set in the vast, lonely cotton patch that is the Mississippi Delta.
Carolyn and Roy Bryant are poor: no car, no TV. They live in the back of the store which Roy’s brothers helped set up when he got out of the 82nd Airborne in 1953. They sell “snuff-and-fatback” to Negro field hands on credit: and they earn little because, for one reason, the government has been giving the Negroes food they formerly bought.
Carolyn and Roy Bryant’s social life is visits to their families, to the Baptist church, and, whenever they can borrow a car, to a drive-in, with the kids sleeping in the back seat. They call Shane the best picture they ever saw.
For extra money, Carolyn tends store when Roy works outside — like truck driving for a brother. And he has many brothers. His mother had two husbands, 11 children. The first five — all boys — were “Milam children”; the next six — three boys, three girls — were “Bryant children.”
This is a lusty and devoted clan. They work, fight, vote and play as a family. The “half” in their fraternity is forgotten. For years, they have operated a chain of cottonfield stores, as well as trucks and mechanical cotton pickers. In relation to the Negroes, they are somewhat like white traders in portions of Africa today; and they are determined to resist the revolt of colored men against white rule.
On Wednesday evening, August 24, 1955, Roy was in Texas, on a brother’s truck. He had carted shrimp from New Orleans to San Antonio, proceeded to Brownsville. Carolyn was alone in the store. But back in the living quarters was her sister-in-law Juanita Milam, 27, with her two small sons and Carolyn’s two. The store was kept open till 9 on week nights, 11 on Saturday.
When her husband was away, Carolyn Bryant never slept in the store, never stayed there alone after dark. Moreover, in the Delta, no white woman ever travels country roads after dark unattended by a man.
This meant that during Roy’s absences — particularly since he had no car — there was family inconvenience. Each afternoon, a sister-in-law arrived to stay with Carolyn until closing time. Then, the two women, with their children, waited for a brother-in-law to convoy them to his home. Next morning, the sister-in-law drove Carolyn back.
Juanita Milam had driven from her home in Glendora. She had parked in front of the store to the left; and under the front seat of this car was Roy Bryant’s pistol, a .38 Colt automatic. Carolyn knew it was there. After 9, Juanita’s husband, J. W. Milam, would arrive in his pickup to shepherd them to his home for the night.
About 7:30 pm, eight young Negroes — seven boys and a girl — in a ’46 Ford had stopped outside. They included sons, grandsons and a nephew of Moses (Preacher) Wright, 64, a ‘cropper. They were between 13 and 19 years old. Four were natives of the Delta and others, including the nephew, Emmett (Bobo) Till, were visiting from the Chicago area.
Bobo Till was 14 years old: born on July 25, 1941. He was stocky, muscular, weighing about 160, five feet four or five. Preacher later testified: “He looked like a man.”
Bobo’s party joined a dozen other young Negroes, including two other girls, in front of the store. Bryant had built checkerboards there. Some were playing checkers, others were wrestling and “kiddin’ about girls.”
Bobo bragged about his white girl. He showed the boys a picture of a white girl in his wallet; and to their jeers of disbelief, he boasted of success with her.
“You talkin’ mighty big, Bo,” one youth said. “There’s a pretty little white woman in the store. Since you know how to handle white girls, let’s see you go in and get a date with her?”
“You ain’t chicken, are yuh, Bo?” another youth taunted him.
Bobo had to fire or fall back. He entered the store, alone, stopped at the candy case. Carolyn was behind the counter; Bobo in front. He asked for two cents’ worth of bubble gum. She handed it to him. He squeezed her hand and said: “How about a date, baby?”
She jerked away and started for Juanita Milam. At the break between counters, Bobo jumped in front of her, perhaps caught her at the waist, and said: “You needn’t be afraid o’ me, Baby. I been with white girls before.”
At this point, a cousin ran in, grabbed Bobo and began pulling him out of the store.
Carolyn now ran, not for Juanita, but out the front, and got the pistol from the Milam car.
Outside, with Bobo being ushered off by his cousins, and with Carolyn getting the gun, Bobo executed the “wolf whistle” which gave the case its name:
THE WOLF-WHISTLE MURDER: A NEGRO “CHILD” OR “BOY” WHISTLED AT HER AND THEY KILLED HIM.
That was the sum of the facts on which most newspaper readers based an opinion.
The Negroes drove away; and Carolyn, shaken, told Juanita. The two women determined to keep the incident from their “Men-folks.” They didn’t tell J. W. Milam when he came to escort them home.
By Thursday afternoon, Carolyn Bryant could see the story was getting around. She spent Thursday night at the Milams, where at 4 a.m. (Friday) Roy got back from Texas. Since he had slept little for five nights, he went to bed at the Milams’ while Carolyn returned to the store.
During Friday afternoon, Roy reached the store, and shortly thereafter a Negro told him what “the talk” was, and told him that the “Chicago boy” was “visitin’ Preacher.” Carolyn then told Roy what had happened.
Once Roy Bryant knew, in his environment, in the opinion of most white people around him, for him to have done nothing would have marked him for a coward and a fool.
On Friday night, he couldn’t do anything. He and Carolyn were alone, and he had no car. Saturday was collection day, their busy day in the store. About 10:30 Saturday night, J. W. Milam drove by. Roy took him aside.
“I want you to come over early in the morning,” he said. “I need a little transportation.”
J.W. protested: “Sunday’s the only morning I can sleep. Can’t we make it around noon?”
Roy then told him.
“I’ll be there,” he said. “Early.”
J. W. drove to another brother’s store at Minter City, where he was working. He closed that store about 12:30 a.m., drove home to Glendora. Juanita was away, visiting her folks at Greenville. J. W. had been thinking. He decided not to go to bed. He pumped the pickup — a half-ton ’55 Chevrolet — full of gas and headed for Money.
J. W. “Big Milam” is 36: six feet two, 235 pounds; an extrovert. Short boots accentuate his height; khaki trousers; red sports shirt; sun helmet. Dark-visaged; his lower lip curls when he chuckles; and though bald, his remaining hair is jet-black.
He is slavery’s plantation overseer. Today, he rents Negro-driven mechanical cotton pickers to plantation owners. Those who know him say that he can handle Negroes better than anybody in the country.
Big Milam soldiered in the Patton manner. With a ninth-grade education, he was commissioned in battle by the 75th Division. He was an expert platoon leader, expert street fighter, expert in night patrol, expert with the “grease gun,” with every device for close range killing. A German bullet tore clear through his chest; his body bears “multiple shrapnel wounds.” Of his medals, he cherishes one: combat infantryman’s badge.
Big Milam, like many soldiers, brought home his favorite gun: the .45 Colt automatic pistol.
“Best weapon the Army’s got,” he says. “Either for shootin’ or sluggin’.”
Two hours after Big Milam got the word — the instant minute he could close the store — he was looking for the Chicago Negro.
Big Milam reached Money a few minutes shy of 2 a.m., Sunday, August 28. The Bryants were asleep; the store was dark but for the all-night light. He rapped at the back door, and when Roy came, he said: “Let’s go. Let’s make that trip now.”
Roy dressed, brought a gun: this one was a .45 Colt. Both men were and remained — cold sober. Big Milam had drunk a beer at Minter City around 9; Roy had had nothing.
There was no moon as they drove to Preacher’s house: 2.8 miles east of Money.
Preacher’s house stands 50 feet right of the gravel road, with cedar and persimmon trees in the yard. Big Milam drove the pickup in under the trees. He was bareheaded, carrying a five-cell flashlight in his left hand, the .45 in the right.
Roy Bryant pounded on the door.
Preacher: “Who’s that?”
Bryant: “Mr. Bryant from Money, Preacher.”
Preacher: “All right, sir. Just a minute.”
Preacher came out of the screened-in porch.
Bryant: “Preacher, you got a boy from Chicago here?”
Preacher: “Yessir.”
Bryant: “I want to talk to him.”
Preacher: “Yessir. I’ll get him.”
Preacher led them to a back bedroom where four youths were sleeping in two beds. In one was Bobo Till and Simeon Wright, Preacher’s youngest son. Bryant had told Preacher to turn on the lights; Preacher had said they were out of order. So only the flashlight was used.
The visit was not a complete surprise. Preacher testified that he had heard of the “trouble,” that he “sho’ had” talked to his nephew about it. Bobo himself had been afraid; he had wanted to go home the day after the incident. The Negro girl in the party urged that he leave. “They’ll kill him,” she had warned. But Preacher’s wife, Elizabeth Wright, had decided that the danger was being magnified; she had urged Bobo to “finish yo’ visit.”
“I thought they might say something to him, but I didn’t think they’d kill a boy,” Preacher said.
Big Milam shined the light in Bobo’s face, said: “You the nigger who did the talking?”
“Yeah,” Bobo replied.
Milam: “Don’t say, ‘Yeah’ to me: I’ll blow your head off. Get your clothes on.”
Bobo had been sleeping in his shorts. He pulled on a shirt and trousers, then reached for his socks.
“Just the shoes,” Milam hurried him.
“I don’t wear shoes without socks,” Bobo said: and he kept the gun-bearers waiting while he put on his socks, then a pair of canvas shoes with thick crepe soles.
Preacher and his wife tried two arguments in the boy’s behalf.
“He ain’t got good sense,” Preacher begged. “He didn’t know what he was doing. Don’t take him.”
“I’ll pay you gentlemen for the damages,” Elizabeth Wright said.
“You niggers go back to sleep,” Milam replied.
They marched him into the yard, told him to get in the back of the pickup and lie down. He obeyed. They drove toward Money.
Elizabeth Wright rushed to the home of a white neighbor, who got up, looked around, but decided he could do nothing. Then, she and Preacher drove to the home of her brother, Crosby Smith, at Sumner; and Crosby Smith, on Sunday morning, went to the sheriff’s office at Greenwood.
The other young Negroes stayed at Preacher’s house until daylight, when Wheeler Parker telephoned his mother in Chicago, who in turn notified Bobo’s mother, Mamie Bradley, 33, 6427 S. St. Lawrence.
Had there been any doubt as to the identity of the “Chicago boy who done the talking,” Milam and Bryant would have stopped at the store for Carolyn to identify him. But there had been no denial. So they didn’t stop at the store. At Money, they crossed the Tallahatchie River and drove west.
Their intention was to “just whip him… and scare some sense into him.” And for this chore, Big Milam knew “the scariest place in the Delta.” He had come upon it last year hunting wild geese. Over close to Rosedale, the Big River bends around under a bluff. “Brother, she’s a 100-foot sheer drop, and she’s a 100 feet deep after you hit.”
Big Milam’s idea was to stand him up there on that bluff, “whip” him with the .45, and then shine the light on down there toward that water and make him think you’re gonna knock him in.
“Brother, if that won’t scare the Chicago ——-, hell won’t.”
Searching for this bluff, they drove close to 75 miles. Through Shellmound, Schlater, Doddsville, Ruleville, Cleveland to the intersection south of Rosedale. There they turned south on Mississippi No. 1, toward the entrance to Beulah Lake. They tried several dirt and gravel roads, drove along the levee. Finally, they gave up: in the darkness, Big Milam couldn’t find his bluff.
They drove back to Milam’s house at Glendora, and by now it was 5 a.m.. They had been driving nearly three hours, with Milam and Bryant in the cab and Bobo lying in the back.
At some point when the truck slowed down, why hadn’t Bobo jumped and run? He wasn’t tied; nobody was holding him. A partial answer is that those Chevrolet pickups have a wraparound rear window the size of a windshield. Bryant could watch him. But the real answer is the remarkable part of the story.
Bobo wasn’t afraid of them! He was tough as they were. He didn’t think they had the guts to kill him.
Milam: “We were never able to scare him. They had just filled him so full of that poison that he was hopeless.”
Back of Milam’s home is a tool house, with two rooms each about 12 feet square. They took him in there and began “whipping” him, first Milam then Bryant smashing him across the head with those .45′s. Pistol-whipping: a court-martial offense in the Army… but MP’s have been known to do it…. And Milam got information out of German prisoners this way.
But under these blows Bobo never hollered — and he kept making the perfect speeches to insure martyrdom.
Bobo: “You bastards, I’m not afraid of you. I’m as good as you are. I’ve ‘had’ white women. My grandmother was a white woman.”
Milam: “Well, what else could we do? He was hopeless. I’m no bully; I never hurt a nigger in my life. I like niggers — in their place — I know how to work ‘em. But I just decided it was time a few people got put on notice. As long as I live and can do anything about it, niggers are gonna stay in their place.
Niggers ain’t gonna vote where I live. If they did, they’d control the government. They ain’t gonna go to school with my kids. And when a nigger gets close to mentioning sex with a white woman, he’s tired o’ livin’. I’m likely to kill him. Me and my folks fought for this country, and we got some rights. I stood there in that shed and listened to that nigger throw that poison at me, and I just made up my mind. ‘Chicago boy,’ I said, ‘I’m tired of ‘em sending your kind down here to stir up trouble. Goddam you, I’m going to make an example of you — just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand.’”
So Big Milam decided to act. He needed a weight. He tried to think of where he could get an anvil. Then he remembered a gin which had installed new equipment. He had seen two men lifting a discarded fan, a metal fan three feet high and circular, used in ginning cotton.
Bobo wasn’t bleeding much. Pistol-whipping bruises more than it cuts. They ordered him back in the truck and headed west again. They passed through Doddsville, went into the Progressive Ginning Company. This gin is 3.4 miles east of Boyle: Boyle is two miles south of Cleveland. The road to this gin turns left off U.S. 61, after you cross the bayou bridge south of Boyle.
Milam: “When we got to that gin, it was daylight, and I was worried for the first time. Somebody might see us and accuse us of stealing the fan.”
Bryant and Big Milam stood aside while Bobo loaded the fan. Weight: 74 pounds. The youth still thought they were bluffing.
They drove back to Glendora, then north toward Swan Lake and crossed the “new bridge” over the Tallahatchie. At the east end of this bridge, they turned right, along a dirt road which parallels the river. After about two miles, they crossed the property of L.W. Boyce, passing near his house.
About 1.5 miles southeast of the Boyce home is a lonely spot where Big Milam has hunted squirrels. The river bank is steep. The truck stopped 30 yards from the water.
Big Milam ordered Bobo to pick up the fan.
He staggered under its weight… carried it to the river bank. They stood silently… just hating one another.
Milam: “Take off your clothes.”
Slowly, Bobo pulled off his shoes, his socks. He stood up, unbuttoned his shirt, dropped his pants, his shorts.
He stood there naked.
It was Sunday morning, a little before 7.
Milam: “You still as good as I am?”
Bobo: “Yeah.”
Milam: “You still ‘had’ white women?”
Bobo: “Yeah.”
That big .45 jumped in Big Milam’s hand. The youth turned to catch that big, expanding bullet at his right ear. He dropped.
They barb-wired the gin fan to his neck, rolled him into 20 feet of water.
For three hours that morning, there was a fire in Big Milam’s back yard: Bobo’s crepe soled shoes were hard to burn.
Seventy-two hours later — eight miles downstream — boys were fishing. They saw feet sticking out of the water. Bobo.
The majority — by no means all, but the majority — of the white people in Mississippi 1) either approve Big Milam’s action or else 2) they don’t disapprove enough to risk giving their “enemies” the satisfaction of a conviction.
 
  1.  Recollection by Joyce Ladner of conversation with Till’s mother, in the context of a Brookings Institution panel discussion on the Civil Rights Movement.
  2. ^ “Mamie Till-Mobley; Civil Rights Figure (obituary”. Washington Post. January 8, 2003. http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A25041-2003Jan7?language=printer. Retrieved 2009-05-25.
  3. “Mamie Till-Mobley” from the WGBH series, The Ten O’clock News
People & Events: Roy Bryant (1931-1994), Carolyn Bryant (1934-) and J. W. Milam (1919-1981) http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/till/peopleevents/p_defendants.html
 
File:EmmettTillStoreMoneyMS.JPG
Remains of Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market, Money, MS. (Photo: March, 2009) SOURCE
Rest in peace, Emmett.
Rest in peace.

 

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “EMMETT LOUIS TILL (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955)

  1. Tim Rider

    In my honest opinion, having studied this case objectively (and I am neither black or white), I reckon the kid deserved it.

    Now Im not saying just because he whistled at a woman.

    Im saying that because heres a 14 year old black kid, who goes into a store and harasses a married white woman in the 50’s. That may not be a crime by law – but it sure should be , as it is one of the biggest acts of stupidity I’ve ever heard in my life.

    Plus the kid did not even show remorse. The preacher tried to help him, by claiming Till had ‘no sense’ but that didn’t work

    The kid deserved it – If some little 14 yr old twerp ever wolf whistled at my wife – I would get a baseball bat and bash his puny head in.

    Emmett Till was likely mentally handicapped I believe, but he definitely got what he deserved, no question.

    • Whatistoyou?

      I have studied this too. And I have to say, I may only be 13, but that was no reason to do what they did to him. So what he wolf whistled? He’s fourteen years old, and still recovering from a disease. He didn’t deserve it what so ever. It was a joke, yes he should have been punished, like getting a whip or two. But the pictutres I have seen of this kids remains, the beaten face, no reason! I’m pretty sure that if it was your kid you would be pretty mad and saying that he or she didnt deserve it. It doesnt matter the skin color either, if a white kid had done that it wouldnt have mattered. This is just a racism case. He did not deserve it at all. You must be sick minded to think that he deserved it.

    • Anamarina

      i dont care if your not black or white, you racist b@@@@@d! how bout you have a kid, and he whistle at me and let me kill him…what if i killed you 14 year old son or nephew..??? for whistling at me! people like you kills me! he was still young for some damn ignorant white A.S.S GROWN men to kill that boy. So do me a favor and go suck on your own balls, till you choke to death..!!!! and yes IM BLACK AND CUBAN..!!!!! (you female dog), cow licking, ungrateful human being

    • kate

      emmett till did not deserve to die. it was a racial issue . it was hatred . racism still rears its ugly head, as per your comments. if you feed hate it will win. if you starve it , it will die. this from a irish puerto rican.

    • kate

      tim rider you are full of hate which equals racism. hate is the enemy here. you are dangerous. you are insecure. you are bold and impulsive. you have no discipline. no morality. no humanity. you do not belong here on earth.

    • Jackiee

      Stupid Tim Rider no one deserved to be killed no matter what they did. You are ignorant for that statement. To say that you would kill somebody is dumb.

    • God's vision

      u my friend have a very twisted way or what Morals, Values and Ethics mean!

    • Yvonne

      All witnesses, besides Mrs. Bryant, testified that Emmett said nothing to her, only wolf whistled at her in the parking lot. This child was beyond beaten. They castrated him, beat him for hours (witness said they heard him crying, not talking back like the article states), cut out his tongue, sliced off his ear and gouged out his eyes ALL before killing him. After he was shot, they sliced his head in half with an ax then they put him in the water. This is not justice, this is not even vengeance. This was pure unadulterated evil.

  2. JESUS

    @Tim Rider: you is going to hell!!!!

  3. Whatistoyou?

    Come on Tim Rider! What you got beat out by a 13 year old! Thats right! Get a life loser!

  4. Really?

    Nobody deserves to be brutaly murdered at the age of 14. He was 14. What was he gonna do to that mans wife? Flirt? Who cares!

  5. brian thames

    yea what she said they shouldn’t have killed hiim

  6. breona

    i dnt care what any body says, but to me, if roy and milam were still alive i think they should be put in an electric chair and have their eyeballs removed (by the way im 12) EVEN I CAN SEE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  7. die drei Grazien

    “The kid deserved it – If some little 14 yr old twerp ever wolf whistled at my wife – I would get a baseball bat and bash his puny head in.”

    Oh! I didn’t know that in a psychiatry it’s now allowed to use a computer Tim Rider, because that you make a comment like this can’t be explained in any other way :/

    But I think people like you think that they are better because of their skin, damn, you didn’t get it at all and I agree with everybody who calls you a racist!
    The “Drei Grazien” will make a demonstration against people like you, honey, because >you deserved it< !

  8. Die drei von der Tankstelle

    I think Tim Rider is a very poor person.
    In real life he is a victim and doesn’t get love and attention from anybody so he wants to provocate here.
    I advise for you an therapy Timi Boy, because the human is his own draft [SARTRE] so I think there will be hope for you. 🙂
    Because if you act like this you will ever get to Nirvana because the roots of evil [blindness] is in youuuuu O.O
    And Goethe also hate your behavoir because your actin is not HUMAN youre monster and havent got a “beauctiful soul” [compare classical literature].
    AND DONT FORGET: it doesnt matter how you look like :-))) im a (sexy) white girl and i loooooove my (baby) black friends ♥
    CHARACTER is the only thing that counts, from that you do not have enough.

    my advise for you darling :go to psychatrie and yes DIE DREI GRAZIEN make a demonstration muahahahha a:@

    AND: RIP EMMETT YOUR STILL IN OUR HEARTS AND YOU´LL NEVER BE FORGET, maybe your death use opening the eyes of some people. ♥♥♥

  9. YOU GOT SOME BALLS COMING UP IN HERE TALKING SMACK...

    YOU TIM RIDER, SIR, ARE THE SADDESTS PIECE OF @@@@ THAT EVER WALKED ON THE FACE OF THIS EARTH. YOU WILL BURN IN HELL FOR THAT AND I HOPE THAT DOWN THERE YOU UNDERSTAND HOW MUCH OF A RACIST @@@@@@@ @@@@@@@ YOU ARE…may god punch you in your throat^^

  10. Pingback: Read It Four Times | Chamblee54

  11. Pingback: CAROLYN BRYANT: KEY WITNESS WHO GAVE FALSE TESTIMONY AT EMMETT TILL’S MURDER TRIAL, HISTORIAN SAYS | BEAUTIFUL, ALSO, ARE THE SOULS OF MY BLACK SISTERS

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