Reflecting on an Injustice: Emmett Till, 59 years later.


It was before dawn 59 years ago today when a boy, rousted out the bed he shared with his cousins, was kidnapped from his uncle’s home by gun point, and forced into the back of a truck; never to be seen alive again by those who loved him. The child’s body surfaced three days later and his mother arranged for an open casket funeral, so that the world would be confronted by the brutality her son faced. The boy’s great uncle identified the two men who kidnapped and killed his nephew in open court. The jury deliberated for 67 minutes before acquitting the men of murder. The County grand jury refused to indict the men for kidnapping and they went free. The following year, the two men are paid $4000 to recount, for a magazine, the details of brutally beating the boy. The killers detail with pride, trucking the boy to the edge of a local River, shooting him in the head, fastening a large metal fan used for ginning cotton to his neck with barbed wire, and pushing his lifeless body into the murky depths.

Emmett Till was 14 years old. He wasn’t the first, or the last child to meet a violent death because of his complexion. Take the time to check out a few reflections on his life in addition to the climate of the time period. Then pause for a moment for self-reflection. Ask yourself; how much ground have we gained towards unlearning racism and better yet, how much further must we strive to eradicate it?


A general timeline of events leading up to and following Till’s death

Open the pages of the January 1956 Look magazine to read the killers’ confession.

The Face of Emmett Till (a powerful journal entry I found while researching today’s history)

Teachers tools for classroom discussion about Till and the civil rights movement

A photo of Demetrius Oliver’s “Till”; a haunting piece of work that illustrates Till’s continued impact on society.

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