“Approximately 250,000 persons viewed and passed by the bier of little Emmett Till,” wrote The Defender, “All were shocked, some horrified and appalled. Many prayed, scores fainted and practically all, men, women and children wept.” In their September 15 issue, Jet magazine published an unedited photo of Till’s face as he lay in his coffin.
At a same time, the police chief officer Strider announced there were enough evidences to arrest J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant. On September 6th, while Emmett Till was buried at Chicago Cemetery, the two suspects were alleged for murder in court.
Part II: The Controversial Trial
The trial J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant started on September 19th, 1955 at Tallahatchie County Courthouse. All the newspapers sent reporters to witness from the New York Times, the Chicago Defender to The Atlanta Consitution … However, the black reporters still had to sit in a separate area with white reporters and farther from the jury.
It was rare to have a trial like this in Mississippi. Every African Americans, who were brave enough to testify, were putting themselves in danger. Black people feared of more violent actions and segregation from the white people. However, the impact of an innocent 14 years old boy killed because of racism surpassed those fears. On the other hand, the entire jury had not a single colored person even though African Americans were 65% of the population in Tillahatchie County. All of the jury members were white.
Milam and Bryant went to the court with a lot of confidence along with their wives.