Emmett Louis Till


On another note, an eyewitness, Willie Reed testified at trial that he saw four whites and three Blacks riding in the truck that entered the Milam property and presumably carried Emmett Till. Reed also testified that he later heard whipping and hollering sounds coming from the barn. After the trial, several men – including both Whites and Blacks – admitted to friends or relatives that they were with Milam and Bryant on the night Till was kidnapped and murdered. None have been prosecuted.

Mose Wright's home.

Mose Wright’s home.

According to Mrs. Till’s request, the dead body was moved back to Chicago on September 2nd.

Original Caption: Sinking to knees, Mrs. Mamie Bradley weeps as the body of her slain son, Emmett Louis Till, 14, arrives at Chicago Rail Station. The youth was found dead in a Mississippi creek with a bullet hole behind the ear. Being sought in connection with the slaying is Mrs. Roy Bryant, at whom the youth is supposed to have whistled a “wolf call”. Held also is storekeeper Roy Bryant and his half-brother, J.W. Milam. With the bereaved woman are left to right, Bishop Louis J. Ford; Gene Mabley; and Bishop Isiak Roberts, of St. Paul’s Church of Christ and God.

For the first time seeing her son’s injured face, Ms. Mamie passed out.

The viewing

The viewing

After recovering from the shock, she insisted to open the casket during the funeral for the world to see how brutal and unfair the tragedy was.


Emment Till's mother (Mamie Till) by his open casket

Emmett Till’s mother (Mamie Till) by his open casket

Mamie’s famous quote had a powerful impact not only on hundreds of thousands of people at the funeral but also on the civil rights movement soon after: “I wanted the world to see what they did to my baby.” It was a simple answer many years after Till’s death from his mother to Joyce Ladner’s question: “Why did you not have the undertaker do some cosmetic work on his face?”. Joyce is an African American civil rights activist, author, and sociologist who was also born in Mississippi in 1943.

Source: Bettmann / Getty

“Approximately 250,000 persons viewed and passed by the bier of little Emmett Till,” wrote The Chicago Defender

Source: Bettmann / Getty

The Defender’s coverage of Emmett Till’s funeral included a full page of photos.
Chicago Defender


Mourners pass the casket of 14-year-old Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941)