28th August 1955 the Lynching of Emmett Till

At about 2.30 am on 28th August 1955, a fourteen-year-old boy named Emmett Till was kidnapped at gunpoint from his great-uncle’s house in Money, Mississippi. His kidnappers then drove to a disused plantation shed in neighboring Sunflower County, where they brutally beat the teenager, gouging out one eye. A witness heard Till’s screams for hours until his tormenters finally shot him in the head with a .45-caliber pistol. They then tied a seventy-five-pound cotton gin fan around his neck with barbed wire in an unsuccessful attempt to weigh down Till’s body before they dumped him into the Tallahatchie River. A white teenage boy discovered the tortured, swollen, and decomposing body three days later. The fourteen-year-old had been so badly beaten and mutilated that he could only be identified by his father’s ring that he wore. This brutal murder of a teenager – and the antecedent and subsequent events – would be instrumental in launching the civil rights movement.

Emmett Louis “Bobo” Till was from Chicago and had been raised by his mother, his parents having separated in 1942. On August 20th, Till’s mother, Mamie Till Bradley, who worked in the Chicago branch of the Air Force Procurement Office, sent Emmett and his cousin, Curtis Jones, to Mississippi on vacation to stay with their uncle, Moses Wright. Mamie warned her impulsive son about the difference between segregation in the North and South, and advised him not to speak to white people.

In 1955, only fifty-five residents lived in Money, Mississippi, a cotton gin town with a gas station and three stores. On the evening of August 24th, Till and several of his cousins drove to Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market, a small shop owned by Roy and Carolyn Bryant that served the local poor black sharecroppers. Till had boasted to his cousins about life in the North, and claimed to have a white girlfriend. When the Mississippi youths dared Till to go into the grocery store and flirt with Carolyn Bryant, an attractive twenty-one-year-old mother of two, Till took the dare. Carolyn Bryant would later testify that Till said, “Bye baby,” “What’s the matter baby? Can’t you take it?” “You needn’t be afraid of me,” and “I’ve been with white women before”; other witnesses say that Till merely “wolf whistled” as he was leaving the store. Whatever the truth, his actions were clearly shocking; Till was warned by an old man playing checkers outside the store to leave the area immediately. When Carolyn Bryant came outside to get a gun from her brother-in-law’s car, Till and his cousins fled the scene.

News of the northern teenager’s impudence quickly spread throughout the black community. Till, realising the seriousness of his actions, wanted to go back to Chicago but the Wright family reasoned that if he stayed away from Bryant’s store he would be safe. Three days later, however, Carolyn Bryant’s husband, Roy, who had been in Texas on a trucking job, returned home and discovered what had happened in his absence.

In the early hours of the morning of 28th August, Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam drove to Wright’s cabin and demanded to see the boy from Chicago. Wright and his wife, Elizabeth, offered to pay money for any offense caused and pleaded with the two men for mercy. Bryant and Milam ignored the pleas and ordered Till into the back of their pickup truck. After warning Wright not to cause any trouble, they then drove off to mete out their revenge.

Sheriff George Smith was informed the next morning that Till was missing. The sheriff questioned Milam and Bryant, who both admitted abducting the adolescent, but insisted that they had released him unharmed that same night. They were arrested and charged with kidnapping, which was then changed to murder when the body was found.

After her murdered son was returned to her in Chicago, in her grief and rage, Mamie Till Bradley made the decision to “let the people see what they have done to my boy,” and displayed the savagely brutalised and disfigured body in an open casket – resulting in national attention to the crime and its underlying grotesqueries. During the four days of the viewing at the Rainer Funeral Home in Chicago, thousands of northerners saw Till’s body and could no longer ignore the truth and horror of lynching. A horrific photograph of Till was published in the national press – but while it inflamed northerners, it also served to rally southerners. Until the publication of the photograph, sympathy in the south for the defendants had been non-existent and no lawyers would take the case. But as soon as Till’s murder became a national event, five prominent Mississippi attorneys suddenly came forward to defend Bryant and Milam.

The trial lasted only five days; jury deliberations took just sixty-seven minutes – one juror said they took a break to stretch the time to over an hour – and, on September 23rd 1955, an all-white, all-male jury of twelve acquitted Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, who celebrated their whitewashed freedom on the courtroom steps. In a 1956 article for Look magazine, J.W. Milam admitted that he and his half-brother had killed Till.

The hasty acquittal and miscarriage of justice outraged people throughout the United States and Europe. Protest rallies and lectures were staged worldwide, drawing attention to the plight of black Americans. Most significantly, future civil rights activists and leaders cite the Till murder as their consciousness-raising moment. In the wake of the tragedy, the civil rights movement would begin to mobilise.

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73 Responses to 28th August 1955 – the Lynching of Emmett Till

  1. Patrick says:

    I do not understand how white people could do this to a 14 year old black boy. And the pictures of Emmit Till are, to be truthful, disgusting. How could somebody do this to another human being. Only imagine if back then the whites were being treated badly by the blacks. People who were involved in this and are still alive should be put and death roll or better yet they should get what Emmit got. Emmit’s mother died without any peace or knowings. But she kn ew what really happened, and i feel so bad for her, that she had to die with nop peace and knowings of what happened to her 14 year old boy. A 14 year old kid………Its sad that alot of whites treated balck people like slaves and property. Blacks are people, just like whites. I still feel that there was not enough justice done!

    • princess says:

      i feel so bad about what happend to emmet till and some one should have stoped them those who heard him screaming for hours should be hirting after hearing him then seeing his body, they know they could have done something to help him.R.i.P emmet till FOR DYEING FOR NO REASON AT ALL.he didnt even know what he did was wrong.

      • Jamie Lynn says:

        that’s sad , now i have to write a narrative story on him for my class….

        • justin says:

          same here

          • BEN TEN TEN says:

            Well, I’ve written, and dedicating a song to him called “come reparate me”. A series of songs about reparation that white america will not want to hear.

        • no your class written work will be a step in the right direction in making people awear and to became aware is to have the pawer to make a change for the future of people…with all peoples hate in the world lets hope ….humanity survives and becomes a major point in showing how wrong this all was and to make a change in the right direction to except people of all racers and colour as equal….

    • that was only hate what they did just like TREYVON MARTIN so sad

      • Luis D. Rey says:

        Deja-vue,
        What are you talking about, Trayvon Martin had a record of a TRUANT to say the least !!
        G. Zimmerman just happened to be defending himself and Martin thought he had the upper hand !!
        This self defense act by Zimmerman has no comparison with what happened to E. Louis “Bobo” Till,
        GO BACK TO SLEEP, YOU ARE A RACIST, just like Barry Soetoro, a.k.a. Barack Hussein Obama !!

        • shep says:

          You sick white supremacist bastard! How many times have you fucked your mother. Piss on you for your comments. They are representative of most if not all white assholes of today.

          • Anonymous says:

            No please , not all , it’s appalling , shameful

          • Sam orento says:

            What happened to Till should not have happened, but his mother warned him. What black with any sense would have flirted with a whute woman un Mississippi back then. People need to act responsiblly in the presence of danger. Had he listened to his mother Emmet Till would probably be alive today or more likely have been killed by one of his own. Be that as it may it was a horroable thing to have happened cleary by your statement all or nearly all blacks are just as predjudiced as whites. You complain about the relatively few blacks who are killed by police, yet you murder your own without a concern, You should really be more concerned about why blacks have a national murder rate 10t imes, yes ten times that than whites. Your teenage gurls have babies like no tomorrow so rhey can collect welfare and not have to work. Schools are free but relatively few actually graduate. That might explain the abhorant grammar.

    • destiny palmer says:

      i feel you i just want to cry

    • truwords says:

      this isn’t a white vs black thing, far more gruesome things have been done by color on color or white on white, this is just the savageness of humanity, it will never stop

    • Anonymous says:

      theses days they just dont care

    • kierra dye says:

      nothing no justice !!!!!!!

    • Joyce Pollard says:

      I was eleven years old when Emmitt Till was beaten so bad. Just a child not realizing that the South was so different were being white gives them permission to play GOD. The white man has kill more people then any other humans why would I say that well,look at the history?
      They lay claim to a place that already had people living there not only did these white people take there land but did evil to keep the land.
      Lies and greed had taking over the more the white man see he just had to own it and nothing was going to stop them yes the killing went on.

    • the normal white guy says:

      back in those day the black people werent even people. to the whites the blacks were animals trying to go for the woman.. so since the wife told her husband that emmett till “wolf whistled” at her they didnt care if he was a 14 year old boy that was human. the only thing they cared about was the fact that he whistled at a white woman and that he was black

    • A Realist says:

      It’s said that there were blacks involved too. And Emmett Till was rather tall for 14–big as a grown man. His father was a rapist and had been executed for that crime.

      So please get the facts straight.

    • THIS IS HORRIBLE I WISH I WAS BORN BACK THEN, BECAUSE I WOULD GIVE THEM RACIST PEOPLE A PEACE OF MY MIND, AND THEM BITCHES OUT THERE THAT ARE STILL RACIST KISS MY BLACK ASS BITCH

  2. julie says:

    Has every one forgotten what Martin Luther King taught us it does not matter what color we ar the united states is a melting pot of many cultures why can’t we try to get along and love our neighbors. I am disgusted by this ihope that some day someone is held responsible this is not a way to die its cruelty at its worst and I am ashamed of this person. DON’T YOU HAVE A SOUL.

    • the normal white guy says:

      martin luther king didnt start rebelling against racism or lynching until ten year later… so during this time there was little to no rebelion… therefore no one has forgotten him they just didnt know him yet or what he was going to do.

  3. carol hernadez says:

    woww! i cant believe they did that to thiss 14 year old boy i mean come on thats totally out of line i feel very bad. how could they have done this & if a witness heard a scream why couldnt they called the police that instint. Reading this makes me sad that who could white people be so rasicm back then we are all people we are ALL the same.

    • ian balog says:

      i completely agree with the part about calling the police…

      • Arif Chowdhury says:

        I think phones didn’t exist then

        • ozzie says:

          youre dumb of course phones existed duh!!!]:<

        • Aboalshok says:

          . HOWEVER, Woman B claimed she had never said ahynnitg to A about my wife spreading the rumors and that she was simply concerned about her. She was sorry, apologized, but understood if my wife didn’t trust her as a friend. My wife was hurt, but choose to forgive woman B and move on and attempt to repair things with woman A.The next morning, woman B went to A and told her what my wife had done to her. Woman A was concerned about the accuracy of the information she was getting from B. Woman A asked her again if she was sure that what she had said at the party was true, including the party about my wife telling many different people and maliciously attempting to start the rumors. B said this was all true again, and that my wife was really upset with A and wanted to bring her down with what she said.A week later, my wife tried to talk to woman A to apologize for what was said. Woman A would not even look at my wife. She said she was done with her as a friend. She explained that woman B had come back to her to tell her she had been talking about her AGAIN, and she reiterated about the fact she had been spreading the rumors maliciously and my wife wanted to hurt woman A. None of this was true. Woman A called my wife a slew of fowl language in front of me, in front of dozens of her close friends and in front of many of my wife’s friends. She stated that she was lying because woman B had said these things to her twice, and that she wouldn’t lie.My wife is woman A’s boss. Woman A is letting this effect her work. Woman A has cut off all communication with my wife outside of work. Woman B is now completely avoiding my wife entirely as well as woman B’s husband, who is a close friend of mine.My wife forgave them both for what happened. Several weeks has passed. I have a hard time forgiving these people and wanted them to ever be back at our home. They were both very good friends of my wife’s and now she feels alone and isolated because her two best friends destroyed their friendship. I even lost a close friend. The collateral damage goes very deep, since these were mutual friends of almost everyone we know.My wife wants me to move on, but I have such a hard time with that. My wife was trying to do the biblically accurate thing to hold a fellow sister in christ accountable and her other sister in christ; who was not a new christian, but a strong one, threw it in her face. She broke her trust not once, but twice.I just think she doesn’t need to be friends with these people if this is how they treat their relationships. I don’t feel comfortable having them around my home if this is what they choose to do.What do you think?

        • the normal white guy says:

          lol your right they dint have phones

  4. kidus says:

    carol it wouldnt matter if the they called the police he was black and in the south. i just cant believe someone would do this to another person its very sick and the five people who did it got away too.

  5. i cant believe that someone ANYONE would do a thing so cruel. i dont care if he was black, he was FOURTEEN! he didnt even get to be at least 18 an adult. thats so sad omg i just. no words can really describe how this makes me feel. and what the heck she said he said all that stuff! he barely whiseled! and why those wgite men have to do that? they cant get a women of there own, there so jealous he had gust to even whislte, there so icky!

  6. THATS WRONG I HAD TO TYPE A REPORT ON THIS AND I ALMOST CRIDE AFTER SEEING SUMTHING LIKE THIS

  7. glenda castro says:

    how can a person do this what have we all become god made this world to have love and peace not cruelty or hate he made us all the same it doesn’t matter what color we are we are ALL the same..how can some do this to another he was a human being he didn’t even get to live his life to discover what life is. i am so disgusted of this i am Hispanic and i see many white people put us down but to imagine that some one can do this and just go on with their life’s like if nothing happened is just disgusting and cruel..what is they something like this to a white person people would go crazy but just his black they didn’t do nothing go forgive for what this people did and go forgive all the racism have people forgotten what Martin Luther king thought us…

  8. MIA says:

    I THINK THAT THE PEOPLE WHO DID THIS TO emmit SHOULD BE TORTURED TIL THEY DIE HE DID’T DESERVE THIS I WISH THAT I WAS THERE THAT DAY SO I COULD’VE MADE THINGS DIFFERENT.

  9. Juli says:

    I’m in a freshman in high school. disgusted by our countries history. we just finished reading “To Kill A Mockingbird”. the themes of it are strongly represented in this case. ex.) racism, innosence, brutality, and courage. the fact that this poor kid didnt even get a trial for the god-awful thing done to him makes me wonder. it didnt matter if you lived in the south and were black though because according to whites “blacks were born to die”. and besides, finding a black not guilty was unheard of in most southern towns because there was a prejudice jury, prosecutor and judge. maybe even lawyer too. so it doesnt surprise me that this poor 14 year old boy was treated the way he was and not given a fair outcome. i hope all of this world understands this event the way most of us do so history doesnt repeat itself.

    • lauren says:

      Juli, your statement was more then true. your so very intelligent and the fact that your around the same age as this boy and yet you comprehend such a cruel manner is outstanding. you would probably be an amazing speaker about this story to towns that are still segregated till this very day. maybe you could express the manner in such a way that actually makes them listen.

  10. tonio says:

    i think that this was very wrong for emmet till to have to go through this as a 14 year old boy ……its just nerve wrecking to have to read this about somebody…..

  11. shatice says:

    why would those people do tha to a 14 yearold boy.even though he whislted at her .i woul have let that stuff go

  12. lauren says:

    this story is truly heart breaking. tears come to my eyes everytime i think of Emmet Till. that poor young boy did nothing to deserve such a cruel/disturbing punishment. his mother and family are in my prayers, and forever will his story live on through out history. those men should be brutally tortured the same way Emmet Till was! fair is fair, what comes around goes around. i hope there burning in hell. Emmet Till i know your living a beautiful after life in heaven<3

  13. Ron says:

    Personally from his death I have to say malcolm x’s point of fighting back should have been done in response because first he was a child if it was a problem they should have went to the parents but u also have to take in consideration like the little rock 9

  14. hoku says:

    this is one of the best examples of injustice and inequality.those kind of people deserve to die.it’s hard for a mother to see her son pass away ahead of her at a very young age.and it’s really annoying that they are bragging about it as if saying they rule the world.thick-faced bastards,they always think they are god that they could take away someone’s life whenever they want to.they are actually coward ‘coz all they could take care of is a weak child;someone they know that can’t fight back.
    how i wish it also happened to carolyn’s children so that she’ll know how it feels
    to see your child inside a box decomposing and tortured just like what emmet’s mom felt.
    it’s sad to think that an innocent child lost his chance to bring out the best in him and wasn’t able to see what will he become just because of a childish,single WHISTLE…

  15. sosad says:

    this is so sad this was on because he whistled at a white women u all should be thank ful for martin luther king and ppl who changed wat wouldnve been today be greatfull

  16. Relly says:

    i just read about this in class today. i didn’t really know the whole story but i’ve seen the picture before & its sick. how can u even beat a human being , anything , soooo bad that it looks like a monster ?! its just cruel & un heard of. everyone is same just different colors. jeez, i hope those men got what they deserved. i’m sure GOD made sure of it.

  17. GTgurls says:

    OMG ! we are learning about Emitt Till right now and honestly it breaks our hearts… how can someone be SO cruel to a 14 years old boy. i mean it really should’nt have gone that far. even locking him up would of been better than taking him completely away from his loved ones (not that he should of been locked up) btw were 12

  18. Anonymous says:

    i feel bad but i found out from a teacher that he had a speech problem. and ( just to let yall no im black) if his mom told him not 2 do anything stupid y did he have to take the bet and risk his life. but if the person heard him ( i bet he didnt even know he was black) scream why didnt he call the police. they didnt have 2 go to a harsh punsihment like killing they could have just asked for a harsh whippin from the parents( that means they should let the legal guardians handle what 2 do. well thats how i feel on the matter. i feel like i could picture this in my mind.

  19. Random says:

    I was raised in the South. I’m about the same age as that boy was. Racism is a part of the way I grew up. Not directly, my family was strongly against racism. But society treated and still treats them as unequal. I have african american friends, but I also have the pre-conceptions about african americans in general. What these people did to Emitt Till was simply ignorance and the effects of bad parenting(they were raised to treat blacks that way). Doing what they did “for God”, is disgusting; as well as a reminder as to the terrible effects of racism.

    • E.T says:

      Random, your point is well taken by me-I appreciate your honestly. Emmett did not do any of the stuff that he was accused of then. He was lied on and the truth has not all come out as of yet. There is thing called vengeance is Mine says the Lord. It is not over yet!

  20. Emily says:

    Wow! My 14th bday is in 13 days and i cant imagine this happening to a kid my age.
    I’m white and i think this was so wrong and terrible, i also live in the north and its true, theres barely any racism here. I mean it was stupid of him to whistle because his mom warned him and he took the bet anyway. But he didnt deserve to die, and also being that he was so brutally attacked. I saw some pics and i was disgusted. Its amazing how people can do that to a kid.

  21. thats so wrong i mean he did it for a dare there is no reason for them to have killed him. he was only 14! this is terrible i mean honestly white people back then were terrible.

  22. priness27 says:

    R.I.P Emmet Till you did not a dame thing wrong

  23. Aayanah H says:

    I wanna cry so bad we saw a video of this in school and i saw his face and i was like omg why why why why would this even be an opition this isnt revenge this is rage and hatred and just plan cruel its not me its curel brutal amd in humaine this is not something you do to a human being at 14 ARE YOU SERIOUS YOU GOT REVEGE ON A 14 YEAR OLD FOR WHISTLING AT YOUR WIFE JEALOUS MUCH THAT WAS JUST HORRIBLE I HAD TO PUT MY HEAD DOWN FOR THAT ONE OMG they deserved what they got but because they were white they got off easy uuugh RASIST!!!!!!!!

  24. ebony says:

    shamed to say that this crap still goes on this very day only now blacks have a stronger backbone and can do something about it. I can’t say i would have called the police because they wouldn’t have did a damn thing just like they don’t do anything today. white man kills a black human being and he gets probation. Black man kills white human being and gets life in prison or lethal injection… Racism is a crying shame. Everything happens for a reason. People from our past have to go through hings in order for us to be as free as we are today. We still have a ways to go but we are overcoming this thing called RACISM!!!

  25. julia says:

    i feel disgusted. although times are changing now a days you see white women with an african man and vice versa. but their are still races people out here but what can you do??? besides live your life

  26. Osvaldo Torres says:

    I read that story in my school Clark middle school and I saw the back and it said that there was three white men and 1 white women and that 2 men got caught and the3 men and the women were never found and also that a teenager named RC was in it cause he said that him and some friends were going to do some trouble to some Nigro kid that night and the next day when Emmett was gone that RC was to

  27. themedialiesto says:

    it’s really hard to move on from racism when you learn about things like this and you see it’s scars everywhere. sometimes i ask God why, he doesn’t punish these people for their crimes. i know he is mercuful but he is also just. is this justice? that white people should do crime after crime against humanity and not be punished? we can only hope they are burning in hell, otherwise there is no justice.

  28. quanto says:

    i think this was a big tragedy for blacks every were

  29. frankinsence says:

    True dat stories like dis makes one wonder how God sat and watched mans inhumanity to man. The most painful aspect is dat those two murdered went scot free! Racism agains blacks was sooo prominent that justice dint even have shame. I wonder why thos 2were not judged even if theu died. Kai! Dis life tho, history wit lives lost that put some of us in dis free era, wonder what I wuldve done if I was born then. Who knows if emmet wulda still been alive till today! God take control of mankind! I just rembred dis story, I feel realy sad for poor emet, his mum and blacks in missisipi then and america as a whole

  30. Kimmy says:

    This is really sad… and I have to do an essay on it..

  31. to me things ,are the same,white people ,are just affraid now ,its covered up more now,but still some of the same s—,still happens

  32. Meya D says:

    I think this Emmett Till story was very sad and disturbing. I mean, come on now, a 14 year old, REALLY YALL! He didn’t know any better he was young. Kids always joke around. They just took things to serious. I mean I know everybody has to die some day, BUT THAT BOY DIDN’T DESERVE TO DIE THAT WAY.

    PEOPLE NEED TO GROW UP!!!

  33. pete says:

    horrible, whats more horrible is that they got away with it. those two bastards die without spending a minute in a jail. there is still a few folks alive that were part of this lynching why the goverment is not going after them?

  34. Lamontize O'Bryn says:

    This is a case of race a sheet classic case where we the people thought that we would provail but seeing as though the justice system was not built to protect or defend the black Americans of America, we can only hold on for the best outcome. Take for instance in the shooting death of the young Treyvon Martin whose death went unpunished, the man who shot him whether his race was Hispanic or white, the justice system that we as black Americans help voted these people in did not defend young Mr Martin who was only walking home with a pack of skittles and a green tea when he was shot by a neighborhood watch volunteer armed with a nine millimeter pistol. It just goes to show that there was no justice in 1955 and there still isn’t any justice for us today. We have to unite to prevent this from happening again.

  35. Muscles says:

    Emmit Till will forever be a symbol of what true racism is about. His murder ignited the civil rights movement and embarrassed the USA all over the world. From the birth of film-making and even during the 50s when the TV was invented, America always tried to display an apple pie image to the rest of the world on film. The brutal punishments, Slavery, racism, and discrimination of black people were never acknowledged in films at that time. Emmit Till’s brutal death picture changed the perception of America’s apple pie image. When i grew up watching TV, i always thought the Cowboys were the good guys and the Indians were the bad guys. After researching American history, its quite obvious who the bad guys were.

  36. OpEnEyez says:

    That is just uncalled for what they did to Emmet, I think if black people would of had the same mentality they have today that wouldn’t of happen… There is so much hate and evil in this world that it just doesn’t make any sense.. As for the guy who said that Zimmerman was defending his self, Sooo Trayvon didn’t have the right to defend hisself. Who wants a grown man following him home late at night that’s a kid worst nightmare i have a 17 year old son and i know he would snapp out if some Man was following him home at night… Some people can’t see the bigger picture they just see a black young man and begin to judge, and God is the only judge… R.I.P EMMET TILL..

    • * nods * i totally agree with this! what kind of crazy person in there right mind could even think about doing this!? it makes me think that if we were like this today what our population would be compared to now.

  37. Its reall dont make sense what people still doing in the world

  38. this is very sad, i’m doing a Social Studies Project due Thursday and it was About Money MS in the Civil Rights Movement, this is a very good Report they have done about him. he does seem to look older in this picture but someone said that he was bloated from the water.

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