In the previous article, you learned that George Junius Stinney, 14, was the youngest person in this country to be put on death row.
Well, 14-year-old Emmett Till’s story is quite similar to Stinney’s. In 1955, Till was kidnapped and lynched in Mississippi for allegedly whistling at a white woman.
According to NewsOne, “The circumstances surrounding Emmett’s death remain murky. His murder was supposedly sparked by Emmett making inappropriate advances toward a 21-year-old White woman, while visiting his mother’s home state in the Mississippi Delta region.”
Till and Curtis Jones went to Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market to buy sweet snacks. Jones, in his testimony, said Till bragged about attending an integrated school and dating a white girl in Chicago. That was when the boys who were with Till supposedly dared him to speak to the store owner’s wife, Carolyn Bryant.
“Several accounts have been reported of what Emmett Till actually said to the woman. Some reports say that Till wolf-whistled at Bryant, while others said he used suggestive language in a means to entice her. Carolyn Bryant later said that Till grabbed her around the waist and asked for a date,” said NewsOne.
When Rob Bryant found out about the incident, he picked up his half-brother John Milam, and another man (who was rumored to be African-American) and drove to Rev. Moses Wright’s home, “where Till was staying in the wee hours of the morning. Threatening violence to the other residents, they took Till and threw him in the back of a pick-up truck then drove off.”
These men beat Till with a pistol as they discussed others ways in which to torture him. “Rev. Wright went looking for him — but fearful of his life — neglected to call the police.”
Curtis Jones informed the police about Till’s kidnapping. His mother, Mamie, was also told about Till's abduction.
“Bryant and Milam were questioned by local police and charged with kidnapping.”
When the NAACP in Mississippi heard about Till’s abduction, Medgar Evers (NAACP state field secretary) and Amzie Moore (Bolivar County lead rep) went to search for Emmet Till.
“Three days later, Till’s body was found swollen with water and badly damaged in the Tallahatchie River. He had been shot, with evidence of a severe beating on his skin. A local Mississippi newspaper speculated that the body found was not Till because it couldn’t be identified, even though Rev. Wright identified the body and retrieved a ring that Emmett wore.”
The boy’s mother was so devastated she had an open casket funeral in Chicago. Mamie wanted the nation to see what “they” did to her son. Both blacks and whites were outraged by the boy’s murder.
Mamie spent the rest of her life fighting injustice in America.
“Although all evidence pointed to Bryant and Milam killing Emmett, a grand jury in November of that year neglected to indict the pair in the kidnapping of the boy, although they all but admitted their wrongdoing in an interview under the protection of double jeopardy.” Both Bryant and Milam died of cancer in their 60s.
Because of Till’s murder, the Civil Rights Act of 1957 was passed, “which allowed the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate in local matters.”