Why People Are Talking About One of the Most Infamous Hate Crimes in U.S. History

January 27th 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

Sixty-two years after his death and graphic open-casket funeral, there's been a new shocking revelation in the Emmett Till case. 

Emmett Till

In 1955, the 14-year-old boy was kidnapped, beaten and murdered by Roy Bryant, Mose Wright, and J.W. Milam after he allegedly grabbed and whistled at Roy's wife, Carolyn Bryant, in Mississippi. The Chicago teen was beaten so badly that an inscribed ring once worn by his father was the only identifiable bit that remained of him. 

However, a new book by a Duke University professor sheds light on the decades-old murder of the teen. 

Timothy Tyson, the author of the new book "The Blood of Emmett Till," talked to Bryant in 2007, when she admitted to Tyson that she lied about what actually transpired on the day when the two crossed paths, Vanity Fair's Sheila Weller reported

At the murder trial for Till's death, Bryant testified that Till, who reportedly had a lisp, whistled at her, grabbed her, and threatened her. “That part’s not true,” she said in reference to her testimony for the Till trial to Tyson. An all-white jury found the men not guilty, but two of the men confessed to the murder in Look Magazine a year later. 

Mamie Till, Emmett's mother, ordered an open-casket funeral to show the world what happened to her son, which galvanized supporters of the civil rights movement. 

Emmett Till's casket.

The revelation caused people on Twitter to call for charges against Bryant and lament the long history of racial inequality in the criminal justice system. 

Black people are more likely to be stopped and searched although they're less likely to have illegal material on them, and minorities are more likely to be shot and killed by the police. Black and Latino Americans make up 56 percent of the incarcerated population in the U.S., while making up only 30 percent of the population, according to the Sentencing Project.

Gary Younge an editor at The Guardian wrote an opinion piece in 2012 about Till and his mother. Before he left Chicago for his fatal trip to Mississippi, Mamie apparently told her son to be submissive to white people in the South because they could hurt him. Younge said that conversation could apply today, but he doesn't feel the need to have it. 

"At least twice a week, during the 10-minute walk to and from my son's daycare in a mixed-income, racially mixed area of Chicago, we see young black men (and only them) being arrested or frisked," he wrote. "I don't have to say a thing. Nor do I have a thing to say."

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