Connect with us

Equality

Department of Justice Reopens Investigation Into Emmett Till Case

New information arises in the case that shed light on racial violence and inspired the civil rights movement.

Danielle Germain

Published

on

The federal government has reopened the case of Emmett Till, whose brutal murder has  left a heavy mark on America’s heart for the last 60 years. The Justice Department told Congress in a report submitted in March that it has reopened the investigation into Till’s death “after receiving new information.”

Emmett Till was born on July 25, 1941 in Chicago. Till was visiting relatives in Money, Mississippi, in 1955 when the young boy was accused of flirting with and whistling at Carolyn Bryant, a white woman who was a cashier at a grocery store. About four days after Till’s visit to the store, Bryant’s husband Roy and his half-brother J.W. Milam kidnapped Till, beat him nearly beat him to death, gouged out his eyes, and shot him in the head. Till’s body was found three days later, in the Tallahatchie River.


When his body was returned to Chicago, Till’s mother, Mamie Elizabeth Till-Mobley, insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket. Thousands attended Till’s funeral, rallying black support and white sympathy across the U.S.

“The open-coffin funeral held by Mamie Till, exposed the world to more than her son Emmett Till’s bloated, mutilated body,” a report found in Freedom on My Mind: A History of African Americans. “Her decision focused attention not only on U.S. racism and the barbarism of lynching but also on the limitations and vulnerabilities of American democracy.”

Till’s original casket was donated to the Smithsonian Institution and is now on display in the National Museum of African American History and Culture. The casket has its own exhibit in the museum; the casket is positioned on a high platform in a quiet sanctuary, replicating a funeral-like setting.

In September 1955, Bryant and Milam were acquitted by an all-white jury of Till’s kidnapping and murder. During an interview with Look magazine in 1956, Bryant and Milam admitted that they had killed Till. However, the two were protected by double jeopardy, a procedural defense that prevents an accused person from being tried again on the same charges. In 2004 the case was officially reopened by the United States Department of Justice. The defense team in the 1955 trial had questioned whether the body was that of Till, however in 2004, Till’s body was positively identified. After Milam and Bryant came forward, they were boycotted, threatened, attacked and humiliated by local residents. Milam died in 1980 at the age of 61, and Bryant died in 1994 at the age of 63. Before he died, Bryant didn’t express any grief or remorse for the crime he committed, stating “Emmett Till is dead. I don’t know why he just can’t stay dead.”

Early in 2017, it was reported that Carolyn Bryant Donham lied when she testified that Till touched her. He had only whistled, after leaving the store. “Nothing that boy did could ever justify what happened to him,” Donham was quoted as saying. Bryant admitted her lie to Tim Tyson, author of the book, The Blood of Emmett Till. Donham, — now in her 80s, lives in Raleigh, N.C.  Till’s accuser has made no comments about the reopening of the case.

At this time, The Justice Department declined to comment on any new evidence. The reopening of the investigation marks the first major development in the case since it was declared closed in December 2007.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting College Media Network's mission to support the next generation of journalists. For as little as $2 a month, you can help keep our site ad-free and the future of journalism alive. Go here to donate.

Danielle Germain is a Junior at The American University in Washington, D.C. Danielle is a Broadcast Journalism Major and a Political Science Minor. She aspires to be a Political Commentator or a Political Analyst. During the school year, Danielle balances 2 Jobs, an internship and serves on 4 Executive Boards, ranging from the Vice President of Programming for Caribbean Circle to the Social Media Director and Web Manager for The Blackprint — a news publication aimed towards students of color. This summer, Danielle will be joining the Macy's Inc. team as their Corporate Communications Intern. She can be reached at dg0060a@student.american.edu"

Sign up for the Morning Scoop

and wake up with us each day.

CMN Reports

National News7 hours ago

Teen Who Urged Boyfriend’s Suicide Through Text Says It Was Free Speech

Apparently, the First Amendment extends to telling your boyfriend to get back into the truck and kill himself.

by , Penn State University
Entertainment2 days ago

Stormy Daniels ‘Set up’ in Police Sting Operations

A juicy piece of the Stormy Daniels saga.

by , Senior Editor
Entertainment3 days ago

Build-A-Bear ‘Pay Your Age’ Deal Ends in Failure

Would you wait in a line for hours, for a $29.00 teddy? Many did, which ended in chaos.

by , CMN Senior Correspondent
Entrepreneurship3 days ago

Papa John’s Founder Resigns After Using Racial Slur

Papa John's is on the search for a new face.

by , U. Alabama Birmingham
Equality3 days ago

Department of Justice Reopens Investigation Into Emmett Till Case

New information arises in the case that shed light on racial violence and inspired the civil rights movement.

by , American University
Awww4 days ago

Cardi B and Offset Announce Birth of Their Daughter

Welcome to the world, Kulture Kiari Cephus.

by , American University
Education4 days ago

Groundbreaking Experiment Designs Cancer Cells Attack to Their Own Tumors

New research on genome-edited tumor cells could hold the key to successful cancer treatment.

by , University of Albany
National News4 days ago

To Showcase the Boys’ Rescue, Tham Luang Cave Will Become a Museum

An educational way of commemorating the crazy mission.

by , U. Alabama Birmingham

Top Reads