Focused on Mississippi: Emmett Till

Focused on Mississippi

GLENDORA, Miss. (WJTV) – There is a tin building in Glendora, Mississippi– that’s up in Tallahatchie County. It used to be a cotton gin. It is a museum, now. It’s official name is the Emmett Till Historic Intrepid Center.

Inside is displayed the story of how 14 year-old Emmett Till came to Mississippi the summer of 1955 to stay with relatives and was accused of whistling at a white woman at Bryant’s Grocery in Money, Mississippi.

That night, Roy Bryant and his brother-in-law, J.W. Milam, kidnapped Emmett from his great uncle’s house and tortured and killed him. They tied a cotton gin fan blade to his body and dumped him in the Tallahatchie river not far from this building. The body was discovered and Bryant and Milam were put in trial for his murder and an all white jury acquitted them. Later, they admitted to a national magazine that they killed Emmett.

Now, none of this would have ever been noticed much outside of Tallahatchie and LeFlore Counties back in 1955- had it not been for Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, insisting that her son have an open casket funeral back home in Chicago so all in attendance could see what they did to him back in Mississippi. A photograph of his mutilated body was circulated nationally.

This building in Glendora once housed the cotton gin where the fan blade came from that was tied to Emmett Till’s body to weight him down in the Tallahatchie river. Bryan’s store in Money has long since turned to ruins. And the courthouse in Sumner where the two men were acquitted is now the Emmett Till Interpretive Center.

The Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago still stands where Emmetts body was shown to the world. It is a national landmark no matter the status given it by the National Park System. Because this nation was forced to  look at its own face at that church when it looked into the mutilated face of Emmett Till.  

The Emmett Till Intrepid Center is open Tuesday through Saturday at 10 a.m.

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