Saturday, February 4

14 Year old Boy KILLED for whistling at a white woman : The story of Emmett Till

Emmett Till was a 14 year old boy who was lynched in 1955. He was accused for whistling at a white woman at a local store, which led him being abducted by the wife’s husband and his friend, where he was tortured, mutilated, hung up in a barn and finally shot to death.

Emmett Till

Till was born and raised in Chicago. During summer vacation in August 1955, he was visiting relatives in Mississippi. He spoke to 21-year-old Carolyn Bryant, a white married proprietor of a small store there. Although what happened at the store is a matter of dispute, Till was accused of flirting with Bryant.

During the murder trial, Bryant said that Till grabbed her hand and said, “How about a date, baby?” She said that after she freed herself, he followed her to the cash register, grabbed her waist and said, “What’s the matter baby, can’t you take it? You needn’t be afraid of me, baby, I’ve been with white women before.”


According to historian Timothy Tyson, Bryant admitted to him in a 2008 interview that her testimony during the trial that Till had made verbal and physical advances was false.

She said that Till hadn’t made verbal or physical advances. Bryant quotes “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him.”

Till’s mom at his deathbed

Till’s interaction with Bryant, apparently violated the unwritten code of behavior for a black male interacting with a white female in the Jim Crow-era South.

Bryant’s husband and his brother, armed with guns, went to Till’s great-uncle’s house and took Emmett. They beat and mutilated him, before shooting him in the head and throwing him into the river.

Till’s body was returned to Chicago where his mother insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket. (Above).

In September 1955, an all-white jury found Bryant and Milam not guilty of Till’s murder. Protected against double jeopardy, the two men publicly admitted in a 1956 interview that they had killed Till.

After they admitted to the murder, their support base eroded in Mississippi. Many of their former friends and supporters, including those who had contributed to their defense funds, cut them off. Their shop was boycotted and closed. Banks refused to grant them loans, and they had to relocate.

What the murderer was quoted saying years after!

In an interview in 1956, J. W. Milam (Murdered) was quoted saying

Well, what else could we do? He was hopeless. I’m no bully; I never hurt a nigger in my life. I like niggers—in their place—I know how to work ’em. But I just decided it was time a few people got put on notice.

As long as I live and can do anything about it, niggers are gonna stay in their place. Niggers ain’t gonna vote where I live. If they did, they’d control the government. They ain’t gonna go to school with my kids. And when a nigger gets close to mentioning sex with a white woman, he’s tired o’ livin’. I’m likely to kill him.

Me and my folks fought for this country, and we got some rights. I stood there in that shed and listened to that nigger throw that poison at me, and I just made up my mind. ‘Chicago boy,’ I said, ‘I’m tired of ’em sending your kind down here to stir up trouble. Goddam you, I’m going to make an example of you—just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand.’

Years later, after his business closed down and he went bankrupt, he said: “This new generation is different and I don’t want to worry about a bullet some dark night.”

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