So much crazy occurred this past weekend that it was sorta glossed over that it was the 60th anniversary (August 28th) of a young black teen's death. Maybe folks have Dead Black Teen fatigue but this death was a huge blip on the Civil Rights Movement's radar culminating in Rosa Parks' brave stand a few years later. 14 year-old Emmett Till, who hailed from Chicago, went to visit family in Mississippi one summer and returned home dead. Story goes he whistled at a white woman. She reported her fear at his action. Next thing you know the kid's being dragged out of the house in the middle of the night. He's brutally tortured, lynched and then tossed in a river. For whistling at a chick who believed that he wanted to rape her. Whoa, lady! Fantasize much?
In any event, there was a bogus trial after the alleged perpetrators were rounded up. They got off. End of that tale. But no. Emmett's mother, Mamie, kept the story front and center. She had an open casket at his funeral. A picture was taken of his mutilated, swollen body and was seen around the globe. Justice. Did he or his family ever get justice? Well, the grand jury declined to indict, even though the men involved stated they'd kidnapped Till. Pesky technicalities.
Anyhoo, Mamie had the last laugh, if you wanna call it that. She never wanted her son to be a symbol. She just wanted him to be remembered. She would have preferred he'd lived. Mrs. Till tirelessly crusaded for her son's rights until her death in 2003.
Read about the significance Emmett Till's casket has to the Smithsonian below.