In 1955 a 14-year-old African-American boy from Chicago named Emmett Till walked into a general store in Money, Mississippi. Six days later he was dead.
The nation was horrified to find out the truth – Emmett was lynched for interacting in some way with a white store owner’s wife named Carolyn Bryant. Roy, Carolyn’s husband, and his half brother J. W. Milam kidnapped Emmett from his great-uncle’s house, murdered him in a barn in Drew, MS, then dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River with an industrial cotton in fan around his neck.
Despite that, the body was found, the men arrested, and the nation exposed to the ugly racism of the Jim Crow South when they were acquitted, in an hour, by an all white, male jury.
They gave a confession to Look Magazine the following year, admitting what they had done. It was only then when opinions and fortunes really began to turn against them.
However, the crime, the publication of photos of Emmett’s body taken at the request of his mother Mamie Till, and the absurdity of the acquittal galvanized people into what became the Civil Rights Movement of the late 50s and early 60s.
This is a photo essay on the locations where everything happened as they look today – the store in Money, the barn in Drew, the river near Glendora and the courthouse in Sumner. I spent a month driving down into the Mississippi Delta, as the region is known, getting to know these places so you can see them too.
His story is largely unknown, despite book after book. Here is the wiki page so you can really read more about this terrible crime.
It’s 16 minutes so grab a refreshment and thank you for watching.