In 1962, Bob Dylan first performed The Death of Emmett Till, also called The Ballad of Emmett Till. Below are two verses of the song:
It was down in Mississippi not so long ago
When a young boy from Chicago town walked through a southern door.
This most fateful tragedy you should all remember well.
The color of his skin was black and his name was Emmett Till.
If you can’t speak out against this kind of thing,
a crime that’s so unjust
Your eyes are filled with dead men’s dirt,
your mind is filled with dust
Your arms and legs they must be in shackles and chains, and
your blood it must refuse to flow.
The full lyrics can be found on the Bob Dylan website. Click here and then select “Enter Site” at bottom center of the home page. (Lyrics © 1963, 1968 by Warner Bros. Inc.; renewed 1991, 1996 by Special Rider Music.)
You can listen to a recording of Bob Dylan singing the song on the Democracy Now!’s/WBAI. The August 26 full broadcast also includes interviews with documentary filmmaker Keith Beauchamp (The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till) and Clenora Hudson-Weems, Professor of English at the University of Missouri-Columbia and author of the book Emmett Till: The Sacrificial Lamb of the Civil Rights Movement.
The song is included on the Smithsonian Institution Broadside Reunion CD, track number 203.
Bob Dylan Performs “The Ballad of the Emmett Till” from a 1962 Recording