Relative and civil rights activists remember black Chicago teenager, Emmett Till, who was murdered 60 years ago for whistling at a white woman in Mississippi.
Not only are they remembering Till, but they are also recognizing the legacy of his mother, Mamie Till Mobley, who worked endlessly with young people and encouraged them to question and challenge the injustices they see in their lives, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
A cousin of Till, Deborah Watts, expressed the importance of it all and how relevant it is in light of all the killings in the past few years especially of young black men like Trayvon Martin in Florida and Tamir Rice in Ohio. Watts was only a toddler when Till was killed.
“It was her motivation to turn his death into something positive,” Watts said Thursday in Jackson.
Till, only 14 years old at the time, was visiting relatives in the cotton country of the Mississippi Delta on Aug. 24, 1955. Witnesses reported seeing him violate the Jim Crow social code by whistling at Carolyn Bryant, who was a white woman working behind the counter at a store in Money, a very small town.
Four days after the incident, Till was kidnapped from his uncle’s home a few miles away. Then on Aug. 31, his body was recovered from the Tallahatchie River. The remains showed there was physical abuse, with severe cuts on his, as well as a bullet hole in his head. There was barbed wire wrapped around his neck and his body was weighed down with a cotton gin fan.
The funeral was an open-casket, insisted upon by his mother. Jet magazine published photos of his corpse, which then sparked outrage that roused the Civil Rights Movement.
The next month in September 1955, two white men who were charged in the slaying, were acquitted in Sumner, Mississippi by an all-white, all-male jury. The two men were J.W. Milam and his half brother Roy Bryant.