Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African-American teenager who was lynched in Mississippi at the age of 14 after reportedly flirting with a white woman. The brutality of his murder and the fact that his killers were acquitted drew attention to the long history of violent persecution of African Americans in the United States. Till posthumously became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement.
Till was from Argo, Illinois. near Chicago, and was visiting relatives in Money, a small town in the Mississippi Delta region. He spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, the married proprietor of a small grocery store there. Several nights later, Bryant's husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam went to Till's great-uncle's house and abducted the boy. They took him away and beat and mutilated him before shooting him and sinking his body in the Tallahatchie River. Three days later, Till's body was discovered and retrieved from the river.
Till's body was returned to Chicago. His mother, who had mostly raised him, insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing. "The open-coffin funeral held by Mamie Till Bradley exposed the world to more than her son Emmett Till's bloated, mutilated body. Her decision focused attention not only on American racism and the barbarism of lynching but also on the limitations and vulnerabilities of American democracy". Tens of thousands attended his funeral or viewed his casket, and images of his mutilated body were published in black-oriented magazines and newspapers, rallying popular black support and white sympathy across the U.S. Intense scrutiny was brought to bear on the condition of black civil rights in Mississippi, with newspapers around the country critical of the state. Although initially local newspapers and law enforcement officials decried the violence against Till and called for justice, they soon began responding to national criticism by defending Mississippians, which eventually transformed into support for the killers.
In September 1955, Bryant and Milam were acquitted by an all-white jury of Till's kidnapping and murder. Protected against double jeopardy, Bryant and Milam publicly admitted in an interview with Look magazine that they killed Till. Problems identifying Till affected the trial, contributing to Bryant's and Milam's acquittals. In 2004 the case was officially reopened by the United States Department of Justice. As part of the investigation, the body was exhumed and autopsied resulting in a positive identification as Till. He was reburied in a new casket, which is the standard practice in cases of body exhumation. His original casket was donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
The trial of Bryant and Milam attracted a vast amount of press attention. Till's murder is noted as a pivotal catalyst to the next phase of the Civil Rights Movement. Events surrounding Emmett Till's life and death, according to historians, continue to resonate. Some writers have suggested that almost every story about Mississippi returns to Till, or the region in which he died, in "some spiritual, homing way."
In a 2008 interview, first made public in 2017, Carolyn Bryant disclosed that she had fabricated her testimony that Till had made verbal or physical advances towards her....LESS
Sumner's county courthouse was the site of the 1955 murder trial of two white men, J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, accused in the lynching death of Emmett Till that year in adjoining Leflore County. from Sumner, Mississippi
The town of Sumner in Tallahatchie County served as the venue for the trial as the body had been found there. from Emmett Till
Wright and his wife also drove to Sumner, where Elizabeth Wright's brother contacted the sheriff. from Emmett Till
Sumner is a town in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. The population was 407 at the 2000 census. Sumner is one of the two county seats of Tallahatchie County and is located on the west side of the county and the Tallahatchie River, which runs through the county north-south. The other county seat is Charleston, located east of the river.