Emmett Louis "Bobo" Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African-American boy who was murdered in Mississippi after it was said that he flirted with a white woman. Till was from Chicago, Illinois. He went to see his relatives in the Mississippi Delta area when he spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant. She was the married owner of a small grocery store. Several nights later, Bryant's husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam, went to Till's great-uncle's house. They took Till to a barn. It is believed that they beat him and removed one of his eyes. They then shot him in the head and put his body in the Tallahatchie River. His body was found in the river three days later.
Till's body was returned to Chicago. His mother wanted on a public funeral service with an open casket. She wanted this to show the world how her son had been killed. Tens of thousands of people went to his funeral or saw his casket. Images of his body were published in black magazines and newspapers. This caused support from both black and white people in the United States. At first, local newspapers and law enforcement officials spoke against the violence and asked for justice. They soon began dealing with national criticism by defending the people of Mississippi. This led to support for the people said to be the killers. The trial had a large amount of press attention. Bryant and Milam were acquitted of Till's murder. They were not charged with his kidnapping. Months later, when they could not be tried again because of double jeopardy, they said they killed him in a magazine interview. Till's murder an important event leading to the African-American Civil Rights Movement.
Problems proving that the body was Till affected the trial. This was a part of the reason for Bryant's and Milam's acquittals. The case was reopened by the United States Department of Justice in 2004. An autopsy of the body was done. It was proven to be Till's body. He was reburied in a new casket. His old casket was given to the Smithsonian Institution.
References[change | edit source]
- Huie, William Bradford (January 1956). The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi, Look Magazine. Retrieved February 2012.