Emmett Louis Till was an African-American teenager who was lynched in Mississippi at the age of 14 after being falsely accused of flirting with a white woman. The brutality of his murder and the fact that his killers were acquitted drew attention to the history of violent persecution of African Americans in the United States. Till posthumously became an icon of the Civil Rights Movement, 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 proprietor of a small grocery store there. Several nights later, Bryants husband Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam went armed to Tills great-uncles house and they took him away and beat and mutilated him before fatally shooting him and sinking his body in the Tallahatchie River. Three days later, Tills body was discovered and retrieved from the river, Tills body was returned to Chicago. His mother, who had 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 Tills bloated, mutilated body and her decision focused attention not only on American racism and the barbarism of lynching but also on the limitations and vulnerabilities of American democracy. S. Intense scrutiny was brought to bear on the lack of civil rights in Mississippi. In September 1955, Bryant and Milam were acquitted by a jury of Tills kidnapping. Protected against double jeopardy, Bryant and Milam publicly admitted in an early 1956 interview with Look magazine that they had killed Till, problems identifying Till had affected the trial, possibly contributing to Bryants and Milams acquittals. In 2004 the case was reopened by the United States Department of Justice. As part of the investigation, the body was exhumed and autopsied and 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 and it is displayed in the National Museum of African American History, the trial of Bryant and Milam attracted a vast amount of press attention. Tills murder is noted as a pivotal catalyst to the phase of the Civil Rights Movement. In December 1955, the Montgomery Bus Boycott began in Alabama and lasted more than a year, 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. Events surrounding Emmett Tills life and death, according to historians, some writers have suggested that almost every story about Mississippi returns to Till, or the Delta region in which he died, in some spiritual, homing way. An Emmett Till Memorial Commission was established in the early 21st century, the Sumner County Courthouse was restored and includes the Emmett Till Interpretive Center
Till in a photograph taken by his mother on Christmas Day 1954
The remains of Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market as it appeared in 2009
Bryant's Grocery, 2013
Till's mutilated corpse on display. His mother had insisted on an open-casket funeral. Images of Till's body, printed in The Chicago Defender and Jet magazine, made international news and directed attention to the lack of rights of blacks in the U.S. South.