Background and Early Years:
Emmett Louis "Bobo" Till was born on July 25, 1941 and was a 14-year-old Black boy from Chicago who was brutally murdered in Money, Miss., a small town in the state's delta region. His murder has been cited as one of the key events that energized the nascent Civil Rights Movement. The primary suspects in the case of his death were acquitted, but they later admitted to committing the crime. Till's mother, Mamie, insisted on a public funeral service with an open casket to let everyone see the manner in which he had been brutally killed. He had been shot, beaten and had his eye gouged out before he was then thrown into the Tallahatchie River with a 75-pound cotton gin fan tied to his neck with barbed wire to weigh him down. His body stayed in the river for three days until it was discovered and retrieved by two fishers. Till's body rests in Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Ill. The murder case was officially reopened in May of 2004, and as a part of the investigation, the body was exhumed so an autopsy could be performed. The body was reburied by the family in the same location later in that week. Till was the son of Mamie and Louis Till. Emmett's mother was born to John and Alma Carthan in the small town of Webb, Miss. When she was 2 years old, her family moved to Illinois. Mamie raised Till on her own mostly, as she and Louis separated when Till was only a year old. Louis was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943. While serving in Italy, he was convicted of raping two women and killing a third. The Army executed him by hanging in July of 1945. Prior to Till's death; the family knew none of the details of Louis' hanging. They only knew that Louis had been killed due to "willful misco...
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...f the law." That was a brave suggestion for any Mississippi newspaper editor to make at the time as he was defending a Black, teenage boy. Too Soon To Go After Till's horribly disfigured body was found, he was placed in a pine box and nearly buried, however, Mamie wanted the body to be returned to Chicago. The Chicago funeral home had agreed to have a closed casket, but Mamie fought them on that decision threatening to open it herself, insisting she had a right to see her son. After viewing the body, she also insisted on leaving the casket open for the duration of the funeral to allow people to take photos. News photographs of Till's mutilated corpse circulated around the country, notably appearing in Jet magazine, drawing intense public reaction. Till was buried September 6 in Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Ill. The same day, Roy and Milam were indicted by a grand jury.
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