Emmett Louis Till

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“Everyone who knew Till described him as a responsible and funny person.”



Emmett Louis Till was born on July 25th, 1941 in Chicago, Illinois. He was the only son of Mamie Till, a secretary working for the Airforce. Emmett Till lived in a “colored” middle-class neighborhood.


Emment and Mamie Till



EMMETT–2C–6PM_MAIN 1115 17 KOZ15

Mamie Till’s Voice Still Speaks To Her Son’s Legacy More than 60 years after Emmett Till’s brutal murder, his legacy continues to shape America. In 2003, Mamie Till wrote Death of Innocence, telling the story of her son’s life and his death. In 2018, a film based on Mamie’s memoir went into production, along with a movie based on a play about the impact of Emmett’s death. Jay-Z and Will Smith announced a collaboration on an HBO miniseries about Emmett, and Whoopi Goldberg was also involved in a film called Till. The attention on Emmett’s murder more than half a century later stands testament to his impact on the civil rights movement and race relations in America.

Emmett experienced the ugliness of Mississippi, that thing that everybody feared, that thing that everybody wanted to avoid.


Cousins of Emmett Till

I thought of Emmett Till and I just couldn’t go back.


—Rosa Parks, on her refusal to move to the back of the bus, launching the Montgomery bus boycott.

In” Montgomery a few months after the murder, Rosa Parks attended a rally for Till, led by Martin Luther King Jr. Soon after, she refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus to a white passenger. The incident sparked a year-long well-organized grassroots boycott of the public bus system. The boycott was designed to force the city to change its segregation policies. Parks later said when she did not get up and move to the rear of the bus, “I thought of Emmett Till and I just couldn’t go back.”

According to author Clayborne Carson, Till’s death and the widespread coverage of the students integrating Little Rock Central High School in 1957 were especially profound for younger blacks: “It was out of this festering discontent and an awareness of earlier isolated protests that the sit-ins of the 1960s were born.” After seeing pictures of Till’s mutilated body, in Louisville, Kentucky, young Cassius Clay (later famed boxer Muhammad Ali) and a friend took out their frustration by vandalizing a local railyard, causing a locomotive engine to derail.

In 1963, Sunflower County resident and sharecropper Fannie Lou Hamer was jailed and beaten for attempting to register to vote. The next year, she led a massive voter registration drive in the Delta region, and volunteers worked on Freedom Summer throughout the state. Before 1954, 265 black people were registered to vote in three Delta counties, where they were a majority of the population. At this time, blacks made up 41% of the total state population. The summer Emmett Till was killed, the number of registered voters in those three counties dropped to 90. By the end of 1955, fourteen Mississippi counties had no registered black voters. The Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964 registered 63,000 black voters in a simplified process administered by the project; they formed their own political party because they were closed out of the Democratic Regulars in Mississippi.” – Wikiwand