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Maxine Beck: Remembering the sad saga of Emmett Till

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Maxine Beck

Hello all.

Whenever I think of all the evil that has been committed in the name of racism, I think of the murder of Emmett Till — a child. During a documentary on Alabama Public Television, Mamie Till told of the last time she saw her son, Emmett.

He was boarding a train at the 63rd Street Station in Chicago for a trip to visit with relatives in Mississippi. He stopped, took off his watch and told his mother to take the watch because where he was going the watch would not be needed. In return, she gave Till his late father's ring (which would later be used by a relative in Mississippi to identify his body).

Till grew up in a working class family and had attended a segregated school. But nothing could have prepared him for the level of racism in the South.

When Mrs. Till saw her son again, he was unrecognizable.

According to the APT documentary, Till and friends went to Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market in Money, Miss., on Aug. 28, 1955. Till was accused of whistling and making offensive remarks to Carolyn Bryant, wife of store owner Roy Bryant.

Later that night Bryant and J.W Milam went to Till's great uncle Moses Wright's home and dragged Till to the banks of the Tallahatchie River, made him disrobe, beat and shot him in his head, gouged out his eyes, and then placed a cotton gin-metal fan with barbed wire around his neck before throwing his defaced body in the river.

All residents of Money knew who and why Till had been murdered. (The documentary listed the killing as a lynching.

Mrs. Till and her family were notified of Emmett being abducted from his uncle's home and that Till's whereabouts were unknown.

Mrs. Till and the majority of Chicago waited and anticipated the worst.

Days later, a fisherman found Till's bloated, smelly and unrecognizable body.

Emmett's body was placed in a homemade coffin/box, nailed shut and shipped to Chicago to his mother.

Mrs. Till denied the mortician's advice and had the coffin/box pried open.

The smell was reported as unbelievable as was the condition of Till's body.

Mrs. Till said she could not identify her son by his facial features. Therefore, she examined the body from toe to head (there was a gunshot wound from one side of his head through to the other side) and determined that the bloated, smelly, and severely-beaten body was that of her 14 year old son, Emmett Till.

Mrs. Till requested that Emmett's casket remain open for five days because she wanted the world to see what had happened to her son.

More than 100,000 people filed past Till's casket.

The NAACP was notified, and Medgar Evers, first state field secretary of the Mississippi NAACP, accompanied Mrs. Till and others to Money, Miss., for the make-shift trial.

As I previously stated, everyone in Money knew who lynched Till and supposedly why.

And to nobody's surprise, Bryant and Milam were found not guilty because, as stated in court, the body in question could not be identified as Emmett Till and that there were reports that the real Emmett Till was living in Detroit, Mich., with his grandfather and that the trial was the results of the NAACP trying to start trouble.

After the verdict, Evers and other activists still continued to investigate the Till case.

Medgar Evers was shot in the head and died on June 12, 1963, in Mississippi.

Evers, born in Mississippi, was a husband, father, veteran (fought the Nazis in Normandy), and a graduate of Alcorn State University.

Evers was buried in Arlington National Cemetery with full honors.

Myrlie Evers, Medgar's widow, was quoted during the Trump administration as saying to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "What we are seeing at this point from the top leadership in this nation, I'll put it this way; it is sickening."

Timothy Tyson, author of "The Blood of Emmett Till" wrote that Carolyn Bryant admitted to him that she had lied about Till making advances toward her and that nothing Till did justified his murder/lynching.

How about that!

Dr. Martin L. King called the lynching the worst and most inhumane he had seen during his lifetime.

Aug. 28 is the date of Emmett Till's death, of Dr. King's "I have a Dream" speech and President Barack Obama's nomination acceptance speech.

One hundred days after the Till murder, Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus.

Mrs. Parks incident, on the heels of the Till's lynching, incited the American Civil Rights Movement.

Emmett Till's casket is on display at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

To this date, I still cringe when I read about the murder/lynching of the Tills' only child.

What drives such hatred?

Now, on behalf of the NAACP, the courts in the Till lynching/case had the wrong concept of the NAACP (as so many still prefer to do).

The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) was founded Feb. 12, 1909, in New York City by Black and white activists in response to the ongoing violence and mistreatment against African-Americans around the U.S.

W.E.B Dubois, Ida Bell Wells Barnett, Mary White Ovington and other activists founded the NAACP after the 1908 Springfield, Ill., riot.

The NAACP pledges to "promote equality of rights and eradicate caste or race prejudices among citizens of the U.S.; to advance the interest of colored citizens; to secure for them impartial suffrage; and to increase their opportunities for securing justice in the courts, education and employment."

The first branch of the Alabama NAACP was founded by William Pickens and other staff and faculty at Talladega College in 1913.

As part of Black History Month, the Alabama NAACP is presenting the "COVID-19 Vaccine Information Session" on Feb. 18 from 6-7 p.m. Central.

Counties included in this session are: Autauga, Bibb, Chambers, Chilton, Clay, Coosa, Dallas, Elmore, Green, Hale, Lee, Macon, Perry, Pickens, Russell, Shelby, Sumpter, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, and Talladega.

Please register in advance for the meeting at https//rb.gylqe7aua.

After you have registered, you will receive a confirmation email containing information on how to join the meeting.

Your questions will be answered by experts in the medical field.

For additional info, please call 1.256.444.1300 or 1.256.426.6406

Be Nice To Each Other and "Stay Safe."

Maxine Beck is a contributing columnist for The Daily Home. She writes about the African-American community in and around Talladega.

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