Emmett Till

In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was beaten, shot in the head, and thrown in a river with an old cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. What was the reason for this violence? 

Allegedly he whistled at the white wife of a grocery store owner after he left the grocery store. The two white men who were accused of his murder were found not guilty by an all-white trial after an hour’s deliberation, but brazenly admitted to the murder in excruciating detail for Look Magazine. This was no surprise to the jury, who later said they all (except one) only voted “not guilty” because they believed the death penalty too harsh for killing a black boy. In 2007, Emmett’s accuser admitted she lied about her accusation. She was never arrested and died of natural causes in 2023.

When Emmett’s body was recovered, his mother wanted the world to know the full, horrific effects of lynching. She opened his casket and his funeral to the public, and an estimated 50,000 people came to pay respects. 








Death of Innocence: The Story of the Hate Crime that Changed America – written by Emmett’s mother


Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act passed in March 2022