I honestly cried as a 9th grader the first time I heard the story of Emmitt Till’s fate. It was far more emotional and less academic at that time in my life; however, the more I think about Till’s fate and the social condition that brought about it, I am reminded that the historical often time is the emotional. I am guilty of making history sound like a self-contained entity; it receives treatment that is thought provoking yet unemotional. My interest in the discipline of history started as an emotional venue; however, with age, degrees, academic success, and more readings… it became less emotional. But, when I have to talk about Till, I am reminded all too much that the human condition was shaped by the historical… even the ugly parts such as Till’s death; Till was in the news of late due to the Burr Oak Cemetery scandal in which bodies were moved to a dump sight for more space and cash.
who was murdered at the age of 14 in Money, Mississippi, a small town in the state’s Delta region, after reportedly whistling at a white woman. The murder of Emmett Till was noted as one of the leading events that motivated the American Civil Rights Movement. The main suspects were acquitted, but later admitted to committing the crime.Till’s mother insisted on a public funeral service, with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing: Till had been beaten up and his eye had been gouged out, before he was shot through the head and thrown into the Tallahatchie River with a 70-pound cotton gin fan tied to his body with barbed wire. His body was in the river for three days before it was discovered and retrieved by two fishermen.
Till was buried in Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois. The murder case was officially reopened in May 2004, and as a part of the investigation, the body was exhumed so an autopsy could be performed. The body was reburied in a new casket, which is a usual practice in cases of body exhumation, by the family in the same location later that week. In July 2009, while his gravesite appeared undisturbed, his original casket, in which his battered body was famously displayed, was found rusting in a run-down shack on the cemetery grounds.