A memorial has been rededicated to Emmett Till just outside of Glendora, Miss. The new marker was dedicated to the slain 14-year-old Black teen from Chicago this past Saturday. His tragic and brutal murder jumpstarted the civil rights movement more than six decades ago.
In 1955, Till was visiting family in the small Mississippi town when he was accused of whistling at Carolyn Bryant Donham, the white daughter of a plantation owner, while visiting a store. He was kidnapped from his uncle’s home, beaten and then shot in the head. His mutilated body was found in the Tallahatchie River.
There had been three previous markers remembering Till. The first was erected in 2008 in the small Mississippi town. It was thrown into a river. The second was riddled with bullets and vandalized and was later taken down by the Emmett Till Memorial Commission in 2016. A third replacement met the same fate. Additionally, three racist members of Kappa Alpha from the University of Mississippi took pictures holding shotguns in front of the historical marker. Ben LeClere, John Lowe, and a third fraternity brother were suspended from Kappa Alpha after a ProPublica investigative report.
The new marker weighs 500 pounds, is made of steel and is encased in bulletproof glass. The rededication was attended by Till’s family members, including his cousin who was with him on that fateful summer night.
The Till Memorial is meant to serve as a reminder of a painful and murderous past in the South. The bulletproof glass is to protect this memorial from any more vandalization.
“I think we just have to be resilient and know there are folks out there that don’t want to know this history or want to erase the history. We are just going to be resilient in continuing to put them back up and be truthful in making make sure that Emmett didn’t die in vain,” Patrick Weems, executive director of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission, said in an interview with CBS News.
Till’s murder is still under investigation. Two white men, Donham’s then-husband Roy Bryant and his half-brother J.W. Milam, confessed to the murders in a magazine interview after a jury, consisting of all white men, acquitted them of murder. Double jeopardy prevented the two from being retried. Donham eventually divorced Bryant. She admitted that she lied about the events which led to the two men killing Till in an interview with Duke University scholar Timothy Tyson in 2008, which he wrote about in his book “The Blood of Emmett Till,” published in 2017.
Till’s family never received justice and a majority-Black grand jury declined to indict Donham in 2007, according to the Clarion-Ledger.