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The community of Greenwood, Mississippi will unveil a large Emmett Till statue just miles from a Confederate monument on Friday, symbolizing both the renewed attention and lack of justice the 14-year old’s 1955 lynching has received.
The insistence of Till’s mother, Mamie Till, to hold an open casket revealed the ugly truth of racial terrorism in the US and became a launching point for the Civil Rights Movement.
Despite a recent film release dramatizing the horrific event, prosecutors on both the state and federal level have to this day refused to arrest the white woman who first accused Till of whistling at her, leading to his kidnapping, torture, killing and mutilation.
Greenwood’s 9 foot bronze statue at Rail Spike Park memorializes Till in slacks, a dress shirt and tie with his hand on the brim of his hat, according to the Associated Press. It will stand a short drive from an elaborate Confederate monument that sits outside the Leflore County Courthouse.
“Mississippi is willing to do everything except provide justice to our family,” Joshua Harris-Till, a cousin of Emmett and candidate for U.S. Congress in Oklahoma, told The Black Wall Street Times.
Emmett Till statue
The unveiling of the statue coincides with the release of “Till,” a movie focusing Till-Mobley’s trauma over losing her son and her leadership as a civil rights activist. She will have her own statue in Chicago, with an Oct. 28 groundbreaking set for a Plaza outside Argo Community High School.
After years of pushing for the statue, Democratic state Sen. David Jordan secured $150,000 to approve the project in Greenwood, which is 70% Black.
The Rev. Wheeler Parker Jr., the last living witness to his cousin Till’s kidnapping in 1955, was unable to travel was unable to travel from Illinois to attend the Friday unveiling, but told the AP “We just thank God someone is keeping his name out there.”
“Till” film highlights lack of justice for 1955 lynching
Emmett Till and Parker traveled from Chicago to the segregated South to visit relatives in Mississippi. It was on Aug. 24 in 1955 when the cousins traveled to the store, Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market. While there, Till was accused of whistling at Carolyn Bryant, the shopkeeper.
Four days later, white men kidnapped Till from his uncle’s house, shot him, tortured him, and weighted his body down with a cotton gin before dumping him in the river. Like the thousands of other racial terror lynchings throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, no one has ever been convicted for Till’s murder.
Because a statue is better than justice smh I have a feeling the family would rather have justice for the lynching of Emmett Till. The statue is for the state & law makers et al to feel better plain & simple. Justice is what’s needed… b/we won’t see Justice for this child.
— cara downey (@cara_downey) October 21, 2022
“I’m so glad that the movie is coming out at the same time so people can see just a glimpse of the racism and injustice that we’re still having to combat in this country,” Harris-Till told The Black Wall Street Times.