By Original photograph taken by Mamie Till Bradley, digital version taken from questionable source but verified by User:Moni3 to be Till per image inserts in Till-Mobley, Mamie; Benson, Christopher (2003). The Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime That Changed America, Random House. ISBN 1400061172 and Whitfield, Stephen (1991). A Death in the Delta: The story of Emmett Till, JHU Press. ISBN 080184326X,, Fair use, Link
Emmett Till was born on July 25, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. His parents were Mamie Carthan Til-Mobley and Louis Till. Emmett’s short life was brutally taken from him on August 28, 1955 when at only 14 years of age he was lynched, beaten, mutilated, and shot in the head before being tied to a cotton gin fan and having his body sink in the Mississippi Tallahatchie River.
An all white Male Mississippi jury took a little over an hour before finding White Mississippians Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam not guilty of Till’s heinous murder. It was said that the deliberation would not have taken even an hour had it not been for a soda break they took while meeting. Bryant’s wife, Carolyn was a proprietor of a small store, she said that Till made inappropriate suggestions to her while in the store. The validity of these claims remain in dispute. Many who knew Emmett said that this was totally out of his character and denied the truth of the accusations. In a 1955 interview with Look magazine, both men admitted to the murder of Till without fear of retrial due to Double Jeopardy protection
Till had been staying with his uncle, Mose Wright during a summer vacation near Money, Mississippi. The murder received national and international attention mainly due to the courageous tenacity of his mother Mamie Till. She reached out to the The Chicago Defender and to Jet and Ebony magazines along with other press that brought attention nationally to the code of the Jim Crow South that had taken her son’s life because he may have spoken to a white women. She brought his body back to Chicago for an open casket Wake and Funeral for thousands to see the unimaginable torture that her son had endured. Till’s funeral was held at Chicago’s historic Roberts Temple of God in Christ. It is estimated that fifty thousand people viewed his body. The Chicago viewing and the photo of his body that was printed in Jet Magazine awakened much of the nation to the racist cruelty that was impacted upon Till and others in Mississippi and other parts of the deep south.
Jet Magazine’s headline said “Negro Boy Was Killed for ‘Wolf Whistle,” Emmett Till’s murder was an impetus for much of the positive Civil Rights Movement in America. Without the courage of a hurting mother “Mamie Till”, much of the world would have continued to show a blind eye to the bigotry and racist evil of the deep south.