About 60 years ago a fourteen year old boy from Chicago was brutally murdered by two white men in Money, Mississippi. Emmett grew up in the thriving, middle class, black neighborhood on Chicago’s south side where racism wasn’t as prominent as it was in Mississippi. His mother agreed to let him stay with uncle Moses Wright in Money, Mississippi, where racism and white power was very prominent. Before being sent away to Mississippi, Emmett was warned of how different life was in the South and he was even taught how to act and how to address white people. Although he was taught to be cautious of white people it wasn’t enough to save his life. On December 24, 1955, Emmett Till and his cousins walked into a grocery store to purchase candy. Emmett, while walking out, supposedly wolf whistled at the white cashier, Carolyn Bryant. Emmett’s actions at the Bryant store was told across the town and Emmett and his cousins were terrified of what would happen in retaliation for his actions. The allegations of Emmet talking and being friendly to a white woman shook the white community. Once Emmett’s family found out what had happened, they urged him to return home to Chicago. Three days later Carolyn’s husband, Roy Bryant, and his half brother, J.W Milam, arrived at Moses Wright’s home at 2:30 in the morning. Moses reluctantly let the men in because he feared that he and the rest of his family would be in harm’s way. Emmett was dragged from his bed and put into the back of the truck. As night turned into dawn, Emmett’s family realized that they weren’t going to see Emmett ever again. Days laters Emmett’s body was found in the Tallahatchie River, bound with barbed wire to a 70 pound cotton jet fan. The funeral home wanted to bury Emmett immediately because they didn’t want to have any backlash from the state of Mississippi given the conditions of Emmett’s body. Emmett was brutally beaten. His face was almost unrecognizable which showed how much violence he was subjected to. Due to Emmett’s mothers request, his body was returned to Chicago. The body was returned to Chicago so Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till, could see her son’s body. The funeral director in Chicago also did not want to hold an open casket funeral due to the conditions of the boys body. By deciding to hold an open casket funeral, Mamie showcased to the world the harsh reality of racism in America. The funeral was widely publicized and the world and political leaders saw the racism that had overtaken the United States. Thousands of people showed up to Emmett’s funeral and Mamie’s decision to hold an open casket funeral forced American to deal with its racist problems. Images of Emmett’s body were widely circulated which spread the awareness of the horrors of segregation, racial violence and lynching.
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