The crime remains one of the most horrific reminders of the Deep South as it used to be: In 1955, in the tiny Mississippi town of Sumner, two white men abducted, beat, and shot a 14-year-old young man who did nothing more than allegedly whistle at a white woman he saw walking down the street.
And now, sixty years later, the state of Mississippi has honored the memory of Emmett Till with a museum, which opened Saturday. The museum’s dedication was scheduled to coincide with the reopening of the?Tallahatchie County Courthouse, the very same courthouse where the two men accused of killing young Emmett Till were set free by an all-white jury. The men,?J.W. Milan and Roy Bryant, later told “Look” magazine they had indeed committed the murder.
Emmett Till’s cousin,?Wheeler Parker, spoke at Saturday’s museum opening:
“When history is recorded, these people are going to be remembered.?Emmett Till still speaks ? loud and clear.?
For many years, according to African-American residents of this small town, most people wanted to simply pretend the death of Till never really happened.?John Wilchie, co-chairman of the Emmett Till Memorial Commission remarked:
?For a long time, the people in Tallahatchie County were afraid to even talk about it.”
But in 2007, the city began to face it’s ugly past and even issued a formal apology in which it said:
?We are profoundly sorry for what was done in this community to your loved one,? the apology said. ?We the citizens of Tallahatchie County acknowledge the horrific nature of this crime. Its legacy has haunted our community. We need to understand the system that encouraged these events and others like them to occur so that we can ensure that it never happens again.?
And to that I believe all of us can say a sad and soulful “Amen.”