Remembering Emmett Till’s Story on What Would Be His 80th Birthday!

Emmett Till would have turned 80 years-old today.
In the summer of 1955, Till traveled south from his home in Chicago for a visit to extended family. He was 14 years old that summer that saw the tragic end of his life. According to his mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, he was full of energy and verve. Photographs of Till before she sent him off from Chicago. Till arrived in the rural Mississippi Delta in August 1955, and stayed at the home of his great-uncle and great-aunt.
The newspaper coverage and murder trial galvanized a generation of young African Americans to join the Civil Rights Movement out of fear that such an incident could happen to friends, family, or even themselves. Many interviewees in the Civil Rights History Project remember how this case deeply affected their lives.
Two journalists, Moses Newson and Simeon Booker, were assigned to cover the murder for the Tri-State Defender and JET, respectively. Booker attended the funeral with photographer David Jackson, who took the famous image of Till in the coffin. In this joint interview, Booker explains: “JET’s circulation just took off when they ran the picture. They had to reprint, the first time they ever reprinted JET magazine. And there was a lot of interest in that case. And the entire black community was becoming aware of the need to do something about it.” The two journalists also covered the trial and were instrumental in helping to find some key witnesses. Bryant and Milam were acquitted, however, which outraged the African American community nationwide.
In August, it will be 66 years since 14-year-old Till was battered and murdered and was fished from the muddy waters of the Tallahatchie River in Mississippi. His kidnapping, torture and murder on 28 August 1955 for having whistled at a white woman was a defining moment of postwar American history. Two white men confessed to the murder: Roy Bryant, Carolyn Bryant’s husband, and his half-brother JW Milam. Both men are dead, as are all other individuals directly linked to the events leading up to the killing.
The woman, Carolyn Bryant Donham, spoke to Timothy B. Tyson, a Duke University professor — possibly the only interview she has given to a historian or journalist since shortly after the episode — who has written a book, “The Blood of Emmett Till.” In it, he wrote that she said of her long-ago allegations that Emmett grabbed her and was menacing and sexually crude toward her, “that part is not true.” The revelations were first reported  by Vanity Fair.
As Till gets remembered on social media on what would have been his 80th birthday, check out the tributes from accounts such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr‘s daughter, Bernice King, and more!