The Last Oblation Emmett Till

On this day seventy four years ago Louis and Mamie Till Mobley had a son named Emmett in Chicago, Illinois in 1941. Louis Till was a soldier who died in World War II. Mamie would have a short time with her son Emmett. At the age of five he was stricken with polio. Eventually he recovered but he had a slight stutter. Emmett was known to family and friends by his nickname "Bobo." Mamie Till was a hard working single mother determined to give her son a happy and fulfilling life.  He attended an all-black school called McCosh Elementary School not too far from his home. He grew up in a middle class black neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. In this area there were many black owned- establishments and they were successful. He resided in a different environment in comparison to his family in the Deep South.
According to his cousin Wheeler Parker he enjoyed telling jokes. He said Emmett was a kind person. In the summer of 1955 he turned fourteen. Emmett's great uncle Moses Wright came to Chicago from Money, Mississippi for a visit. He was returning home to the Deep South and planned on bringing Emmett's cousin Wheeler back home. When Emmett learned that his cousin and uncle were returning home he wanted to go with them. Initially his mother did not want him to visit the Deep South. Although she was a native she had no interest on returning home let alone allowing her only child to visit. Mammie had planned a vacation to Omaha, Nebraska. She also wanted to teach Emmett how to drive on the open road but he was not interested. The day before his departure, she gave her son Louis Till's signet ring, one of the few possessions she had from her former husband. The next day, Mammie sent her son to the train station they gave each other a kiss goodbye this would be the last time his mother saw on him alive on August 19, 1955.

Louis Till's Ring

On August 24, 1955 Emmett entered Bryant's Grocery & Meat Market to purchase refreshments after picking cotton all afternoon. He was there with his cousins. He purchased bubble gum, and some of the kids stated that he either whistled at, flirted with, or touched the hand of the store's white female clerk----- and wife the owner ---- Carolyn Bryant. Four days after, August 28, 1955 at approximately 2:30 a.m., Roy Bryant, Carolyn's husband, and his half brother J.W. Milam kidnapped Emmett from his uncle Moses Wright's home.

Roy & J.W. beat Emmett brutally, dragged him to the bank of the Tallahatchie River, shot him in the head, tied him barbed wire to large metal fan and shoved his mutilated body in the river. His body was found in the river three days later. A local man fishing found his body. The only way Moses Wright was able to identify his nephew's body was by examining the ring on his finger.

Mamie Till distraught next to her son's body in the box car.

The Aftermath & Trial
Mamie Till Mobley refused to have her son buried on Southern soil, the same soil where he was murdered. She traveled home to Chicago with body in the box car of a train. She held an open-casket funeral for five days at Roberts Temple Church of God. After the funeral she returned back to Money, Mississippi. On September 23, 1955, the panel of white jurors deliberated in sixty seven minutes and acquitted Roy Bryant & J.W. Milam of all charges In January 1956 they did admit to the crime they committed in Look Magazine for $4,000. Emmett's death served as the catalyst for the Civil Rights Movement.  Emmett's  murder was featured in major publications and gained international attention. Other countries criticized the barbaric violence America exacted upon African Americans. His mother remained an advocate for justice and fought to preserve his memory until her death in 2003. Later in life Mamie Till stated that she believed Emmett's death served as a sacrifice to spark social change. It was one way she found solace in the pain ordeal. In September 2015 Devery S. Anderson's book Emmett Till The Murder that Shocked the World and Propelled the Civil Rights Movement will be released.

Sources events

Eyes on the Prize (Documentary)
Coursework in African American Studies

Toni's Thoughts: It has been approximately sixty years since he was murdered. As the #BlackLivesMatter Movement continues to move on everyday black people are still being murdered due to racism.  I am aware some progress was made during the Civil Rights Movement but I am starting to believe most of the work the activists fought for has become moot.  In sixty years not much has changed. Sandra Bland was brutally attacked before dying a in jail cell. The Charleston 9 were slaughtered during Bible Study. At this point all I can do is pray and remain a discerning person.


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