The Murder of Emmett Till

Film. Produced and directed by Stanley Nelson. 2003. 60 min.
Documentary on the murder of teenager Emmett Till and the actions of Mamie Till Bradley which helped launch the modern Civil Rights Movement.

Themes: Civil Rights Movements

murderofemmetttillEmmett Louis “Bobo” Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African American boy from Chicago, Ill., who was murdered at the age of 14 after reportedly whistling at a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, at a small grocery store in Money, Miss., where Emmett and his cousins had bought some candy. Bryant was the wife of the store owner, Roy Bryant.

The main suspects, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, were acquitted by a jury of twelve white men, but later admitted they were responsible for the beating, torture, and murder of the black fourteen-year old and wanted to “make an example out of him.”

Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, insisted on a public funeral service, with an open casket with the intent of showing the world the brutality of the killing: Till had been beaten and an eye gouged out, before he was shot through the head and thrown into the Tallahatchie River with a 70-pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was discovered and retrieved from the river three days later by two boys fishing.

Due to Mamie Till Mobley’s brave fight to have an open casket and the subsequent media coverage, the murder of Emmett Till was one of the leading events that motivated the modern Civil Rights Movement. [Description adapted from Wikipedia.]


The Murder of Emmett Till website offers a timeline, background reading, remembrances, and more.