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I Stand With You, Mississippi: Lack of Emmett Till Justice Makes My Blood Boil

I have heard all kinds of things concerning Emmett Till’s case as of late. It seems that in 2022, Till has yet had the opportunity to rest in peace. 

Till’s peace has and still seems to be a long time coming. His life was violently cut short after Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam abducted him from his great-uncle Moses Wright‘s house. These white men tortured and lynched a 14-year-old child

When his body was found in the Tallahatchie River weighed down with a 75-pound cotton gin, it was brutally beaten and broken. The ring on Till’s middle finger bearing his father Louis Till’s initials “LT” was the only way his body could be identified. But his story did not end once he was interred on Sept. 6, 1955, at Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Ill., in a glass-topped casket his mother insisted on so the world could see what the racists had done to her son. Photos of Emmett Till’s mutilated body appeared in the Sept. 15, 1955, issue of Jet Magazine.  

[embedded content] Emmett Till was brutally killed in the summer of 1955. At his funeral, his mother forced the world to reckon with the brutality of American racism by having her son placed in a glass-topped casket. Courtesy TIME

In 2001, Burr Oak Cemetery came under the direction of Carolyn Towns and the cemetery promised Till-Mobley that they would build a museum, the “Emmett Till Historical Museum,” to honor Till’s legacy. The museum never happened. Due to a dispute over the identity of the body, which in 1955, provided the jury legal reason to acquit the murderers, the FBI reopened the Till case in May 2004. The Cook County Medical Examiner set up a tent at Burr Oak Cemetery to exhume his body and cemetery workers confirmed then that Till’s plot was not harmed, but Towns clearly neglected his casket. 

On June 1, 2005, Till was exhumed again for an official autopsy and to compare his DNA to a female relative on Till’s mother’s side to confirm his

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