Photo of Emmett Till, 13-years-old, on Christmas Day, 1954. Photograph taken by Mamie Till Bradley.

Emmett Till Face Open Casket, Age at Death, Mother, Movie, Killers, Accuser

Emmett Till Biography

Emmett Till full name, Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was a 14-year-old African American who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 for allegedly offending a white woman in her family’s grocery store.

The brutality of his murder, as well as the fact that his killers were acquitted, drew attention to the United States’ long history of violent persecution of African Americans. Till became a symbol of the civil rights movement after his death.

Till was born and raised in the city of Chicago, Illinois. He was visiting relatives near Money, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta region, during his summer vacation in August 1955.

He spoke with Carolyn Bryant, the white, married proprietor of a small grocery store in the area, who is 21 years old.

Although what happened in the store is debatable, Till has been accused of flirting with or whistling at Bryant. Till’s interaction with Bryant, perhaps unwittingly, violated the Jim Crow-era South’s unwritten code of behavior for a black male interacting with a white female.

Several nights after the store incident, Bryant’s husband, Roy, and his half-brother J.W. Milam, both armed, went to Till’s great-house uncle’s and kidnapped Emmett.

They kidnapped him, mutilated him, shot him in the head, and threw his body into the Tallahatchie River. Till’s body was discovered and recovered from the river three days later.

Till’s body was returned to Chicago, where his mother insisted on an open casket funeral service at Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ.

It was later revealed that “Mamie Till Bradley’s open-coffin funeral revealed more than her son Emmett Till’s bloated, mutilated body to the world.

Her decision drew attention not only to racism in the United States and the barbarism of lynching, but also to the limitations and vulnerabilities of American democracy “.

Tens of thousands of people attended his funeral or viewed his open casket, and images of his mutilated body were published in black-oriented magazines and newspapers across the country, galvanizing popular black support and white sympathy.

The lack of black civil rights in Mississippi drew intense scrutiny, with newspapers across the country condemning the state. Although local newspapers and law enforcement officials initially condemned the violence against Till and demanded justice, in response to national criticism, they defended Mississippians, temporarily siding with the killers.

Bryant and Milam were found not guilty of Till’s murder by an all-white jury in September 1955. Protected from double jeopardy, the two men publicly admitted to killing Till in a 1956 interview with Look magazine.

Till’s assassination was viewed as a catalyst for the next stage of the civil rights movement. The Montgomery bus boycott began in Alabama in December 1955 and lasted more than a year, eventually leading to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that segregated buses were unconstitutional.

Historians believe that the events surrounding Emmett Till’s life and death continue to reverberate. In the early twenty-first century, an Emmett Till Memorial Commission was formed.

The Emmett Till Interpretive Center is housed in the restored Sumner County Courthouse. In the Mississippi Delta, 51 sites have been designated as memorials to Till.

Emmett Till Age at Death

Emmett Till was 14 years of age at the time of his untimely death, he was born in 1941 in Chicago, Illinois, United States.

Emmett Till Age 2022

How old would Emmett Till be today? Till would have been 81 years of age as of 2022.

Emmett Till Mother and Father – Parents and Early Life

Till was born in New York City, the son of Mamie Carthan (1921–2003) and Louis Till (1922–1945). Mamie, Emmett’s mother, was born in Webb, Mississippi, a small Delta town.

The Delta region encompasses a large, multi-county area of northwestern Mississippi in the Yazoo and Mississippi river watersheds.

Carthan’s family relocated to Argo, Illinois, when she was two years old, as part of the Great Migration of rural black families from the South to the North to escape violence, a lack of opportunity, and unequal legal treatment.

Carthan’s mother’s home was frequently used as a way station by other recent migrants while they were trying to find jobs and housing in Argo, which was dubbed “Little Mississippi.”

Till was born in New York City, the son of Mamie Carthan (1921–2003) and Louis Till (1922–1945). Mamie, Emmett’s mother, was born in Webb, Mississippi, a small Delta town.

The Delta region encompasses a large, multi-county area of northwestern Mississippi in the Yazoo and Mississippi river watersheds.

Carthan’s family relocated to Argo, Illinois, when she was two years old, as part of the Great Migration of rural black families from the South to the North to escape violence, a lack of opportunity, and unequal legal treatment.

Carthan’s mother’s home was frequently used as a way station by other recent migrants while they were trying to find jobs and housing in Argo, which was dubbed “Little Mississippi.”

Mamie raised Emmett primarily with her mother; she and Louis Till divorced in 1942 after she discovered he had been unfaithful.

Louis later abused her, choking her until she passed out, to which she retaliated by throwing scalding water at him. Louis Till was forced by a judge in 1943 to choose between jail and enlisting in the United States Army for violating court orders to stay away from Mamie.

He was executed in 1945, just weeks before his son’s fourth birthday, for the murder of an Italian woman and the rape of two others.

Emmett contracted polio when he was six years old, leaving him with a persistent stutter. Mamie and Emmett relocated to Detroit in 1951, where she met and married “Pink” Bradley.

Emmett preferred to live in Chicago, so he moved back to live with his grandmother; his mother and stepfather joined him later that year. After their marriage ended in divorce in 1952, “Pink” Bradley returned to Detroit alone.

Mamie Till Bradley and Emmett lived together in a busy Chicago South Side neighborhood, near distant relatives. For a higher salary, she began working as a civilian clerk for the United States Air Force.

She remembered Emmett being hardworking enough to assist with household chores, despite his tendency to become distracted.

His mother recalled that he was unaware of his own limitations at times. Following the couple’s divorce, Bradley paid Mamie a visit and began threatening her.

Emmett, then eleven years old, told Bradley that if the man did not leave, he would kill him with a butcher knife. Emmett, on the other hand, was usually content.

He and his cousins and friends played pranks on each other (Emmett once took advantage of an extended car ride when his friend fell asleep and placed the friend’s underwear on his head), and they also played pickup baseball games in their spare time. He was well-dressed and was frequently the center of attention among his peers.

Emmett Till Death

On August 21, 1955, Till arrived in Money, Mississippi. On August 24, he and cousin Curtis Jones skipped church where his great-uncle Mose Wright was preaching and went to Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market to buy candy with some local boys. The teenagers were sharecroppers’ children who had been picking cotton all day.

The market was owned by a white couple, 24-year-old Roy Bryant and his 21-year-old wife Carolyn, and primarily served the local sharecropper population. Carolyn was alone in the store’s front that day, while her sister-in-law was in the back, watching children. Jones left Till with the other boys while he went across the street to play checkers.

The facts of what happened in the store are still being debated. According to Jones, the other boys reported that Till had a photograph of an integrated class at the Chicago school he attended, and Till boasted to the boys that the white children in the picture were his friends.

He said she was his girlfriend by pointing to a white girl in the picture or referring to a picture of a white girl that came with his new wallet. According to Jones, one or more of the local boys then dared Till to approach Bryant.

However, Till’s cousin Simeon Wright, who was also present at the time, disputed Jones’ version of what happened on that day in a book published in 2009.

Till did not have a photo of a white girl in his wallet, according to Wright, and no one dared him to flirt with Bryant. In a 2015 interview, Wright stated: “We didn’t dare him to go to the store – that’s what the white people said.

They claimed he had photos of his white girlfriend. There were no photographs. They never said anything to me. They never asked me a question.” According to the FBI report, “[Curtis] Jones recanted his 1955 statements prior to his death and apologized to Mamie Till-Mobley.”

Till may have wolf-whistled at Bryant, according to some accounts, including comments from some of the kids standing outside the store. Till’s cousin, Simeon Wright, who was with him at the store, stated that Till whistled at Bryant, adding, “I think [Emmett] wanted to get a laugh out of us or something.” Wright stated that he became alarmed immediately after hearing the whistle. “Well, it scared the hell out of us,” Wright recalled. “You know, we were almost stunned. We couldn’t wait to get out of there because we’d never heard of anything like it before.

Whistling at a white woman by a black boy? Is it in Mississippi? No, according to Wright, “the Ku Klux Klan and night riders were part of our daily lives.” Following his disappearance, a newspaper account stated that Till whistled occasionally to help with his stuttering. His speech was occasionally slurred; his mother stated that he had particular difficulty pronouncing “b” sounds, and he may have whistled to overcome difficulties in asking for bubble gum. She claimed that she taught Till how to whistle softly to himself before pronouncing his words to help with his articulation.

Bryant testified during the murder trial that Till grabbed her hand while she was stocking candy and said, “How about a date, baby?” She claimed that after she managed to free herself from his clutches, the young man followed her to the cash register, grabbed her waist, and asked, “What’s the matter, baby, can’t you take it?” Till said, “You don’t have to be afraid of me, baby,” used “one ‘unprintable’ word,” and said, “I’ve been with white women before.” Bryant said she freed herself, and Till said, “You don’t have to be afraid of me, baby.” Bryant also claimed that one of Till’s associates entered the store, grabbed him by the arm, and told him to leave.

Bryant admitted to historian Timothy Tyson in a 2008 interview that her testimony during the trial that Till had made verbal and physical advances was false. Bryant testified that Till grabbed her waist and yelled obscenities at her, but later told Tyson, “that part’s not true.” The rest of what happened, the 72-year-old said, she couldn’t recall. “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” Tyson quotes Bryant as saying. However, Tyson’s tape recordings of the interviews with Bryant do not include Bryant saying those things. Furthermore, Marsha Bryant, the woman who was with Bryant during the interviews, claims that Bryant never told Tyson that.

Decades later, Till’s cousin Simeon Wright also questioned Carolyn Bryant’s testimony at the trial. Wright claims he entered the store “less than a minute” after Till was left alone inside with Bryant, and he witnessed no inappropriate behavior or overheard “any lecherous conversation.” Till “paid for his items and we left the store together,” Wright said. The FBI noted in their 2006 investigation of the cold case that a second anonymous source who was confirmed to have been in the store at the same time as Till and his cousin supported Wright’s account.

According to author Devery Anderson, in an interview with the defense’s attorneys, Bryant told a version of the initial encounter that included Till grabbing her hand and asking her out on a date, but not Till approaching her and grabbing her waist, mentioning past relationships with white women, or being dragged out of the store by another boy. Anderson goes on to say that many of the comments made by those involved prior to Till’s kidnapping indicate that it was his remarks to Bryant that enraged his kidnappers, not any alleged physical harassment.

For example, witness Mose Wright stated that the kidnappers only mentioned “talk” at the store, and Sheriff George Smith only mentioned the arrested killers accusing Till of “ugly remarks.” Anderson believes that when all of the evidence is considered together, it suggests that the more extreme details of Bryant’s story were invented after the fact as part of the defense’s legal strategy.

In any case, after Wright and Till had left the store, Bryant went outside to retrieve a pistol from beneath a car seat. When the teenagers saw her doing this, they immediately left. Till whistled while Bryant was walking to her car, it was admitted.

However, it is debatable whether Till whistled at Bryant or at a checkers game taking place across the street.

One of the other boys dashed across the street to inform Curtis Jones of what had occurred in the store. When the older man with whom Jones was playing checkers overheard the story, he advised the boys to leave immediately because he was afraid of violence.

Bryant told others about what happened at the store, and the story quickly spread. Jones and Till refused to tell his great-uncle Mose Wright for fear of getting in trouble. Till stated that he wished to return to Chicago. Carolyn’s husband, Roy Bryant, was on a long haul hauling shrimp to Texas, and he didn’t return home until August 27.

Bryant directed Washington to seize the boy, place him in the back of a pickup truck, and transport him to be identified by a Carolyn’s companion who had witnessed the incident with Till. Friends and parents vouched for the boy in Bryant’s store, and Carolyn’s companion denied that the boy seized by Bryant and Washington was the one who had accosted her. Bryant discovered that the boy involved in the incident was from Chicago and was staying with Mose Wright. Several witnesses overheard Bryant and his 36-year-old half-brother, John William “J. W.” Milam, talking about removing Till from his home.

Bryant and Milam drove to Mose Wright’s house in the early morning hours of August 28, 1955, between 2 and 3:30 a.m. Milam carried a pistol and a flashlight. He inquired as to whether Wright had three Chicago boys in the house. Till shared a bed with another cousin in the small two-bedroom cabin, which sleeps eight people. Milam requested that Wright take them to “the nigger who did the talking.” Till’s great-aunt offered the men money, but Milam declined as he rushed Emmett to get dressed. Till was from up north, and he didn’t know any better, according to Mose Wright. Milam is said to have then asked Wright, “How old are you, preacher?” to which Wright replied, “64.”

Milam threatened Wright that if he told anyone, he wouldn’t live to be 65. Till was marched out to the truck by the men. Wright claimed he overheard them asking someone in the car if this was the boy and hearing a “yes” response. When asked if the voice was male or female, Wright replied, “it seemed like it was a lighter voice than a man’s.” Bryant and Milam admitted to the murder in a 1956 interview with Look magazine, saying they would have brought Till by the store to have Carolyn identify him, but they did not because Till admitted to being the one who had talked to her.

Till was tied to the back of a green pickup truck as they drove toward Money, Mississippi. They took Till back to Bryant’s Groceries, according to some witnesses, and recruited two black men. The men then drove to Drew to a barn. They allegedly pistol-whipped him on the way and knocked him unconscious. Willie Reed, who was 18 at the time, noticed the truck passing by. Reed remembered seeing two white men in the front and “two black males” in the back. Some speculate that the two black men worked for Milam and were forced to assist in the beating, though they later denied their presence.

Willie Reed claimed that he heard the beating and crying from the barn while walking home. He told a neighbor, and the two of them walked back up the road to a water well near the barn, where Milam approached them. Milam inquired if they had heard anything. Reed replied, “No.” Others who were passing by the shed heard yelling. A nearby neighbor also noticed “Too Tight” (Leroy Collins) washing blood off the truck and Till’s boot at the back of the barn. Milam explained that he had killed a deer and that the boot was his.

Some say Till was shot and thrown over the Black Bayou Bridge in Glendora, Mississippi, near the Tallahatchie River.

The group allegedly returned to Roy Bryant’s home in Money and burned Emmett’s clothes.

Bryant and Milam stated in an interview with William Bradford Huie published in Look magazine in 1956 that they planned to beat Till and throw him off an embankment into the river to scare him. They told Huie that while they were beating Till, he called them scumbags, declared himself to be as good as them, and claimed to have had sexual encounters with white women.

They loaded Till into the back of their truck, drove to a cotton gin to take a 70-pound (32 kg) fan—the only time they admitted to being concerned, fearing that by this time in the early morning they would be spotted and accused of stealing—and drove for several miles along the river looking for a place to dump Till. They shot him by the river and used the fan to weigh his body.

Mose Wright sat on his front porch for twenty minutes, waiting for Till. He did not return to his bed. He and another man went into Money, got some gas, and drove around looking for Till. They were unsuccessful and returned home by 8:00 a.m.

Curtis Jones called the Leflore County sheriff and his mother in Chicago after learning from Wright that he would not call the police because he feared for his life. She called Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till Bradley, distraught. Wright and his wife Elizabeth drove to Sumner, where the sheriff was contacted by Elizabeth’s brother.

George Smith, the sheriff of Leflore County, questioned Bryant and Milam. They admitted taking the boy from his great-yard, uncle’s but claimed to have released him the next night in front of Bryant’s store. Bryant and Milam were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping.

When word got out that Till was missing, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACPMississippi )’s state field secretary, Medgar Evers, and Amzie Moore, the head of the Bolivar County chapter, got involved. They disguised themselves as cotton pickers and entered the cotton fields in search of any information that could lead them to Till.

Till’s swollen and disfigured body was discovered by two boys fishing in the Tallahatchie River three days after his kidnapping and murder.

His head had been severely mutilated, he had been shot above the right ear, an eye had been dislodged from its socket, he had been beaten on the back and hips, and his body had been weighted by a fan blade fastened around his neck with barbed wire.

He was naked except for a silver ring with the initials “L. T.” and “May 25, 1943” carved on it. Due to trauma and being submerged in water, his face was unrecognizable. Mose Wright was summoned to the river in order to identify Till. Till’s silver ring was removed, returned to Wright, and then turned over to the district attorney as evidence.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You cannot copy content of this page