Anyone who thinks America is post-race got a major wakeup call Saturday, when the memorial sign marking the spot where Emmett Till’s mutilated body was discovered back in 1955, was found riddled with bullet holes. According to those familiar with the memorial, this isn’t the first time that the Mississippi sign has been vandalized. However, it is the most brutal such incident to date.
Local station WJTV spoke to Kevin Wilson Jr., a filmmaker who was in the region scouting locations for an upcoming project. “It kind of spoke to the racial climate in this country not just in the area," he said of his discovery, adding that he was both “shocked and saddened.”
Till was just 14 years old when he was discovered dead in a stretch of the Mississippi River that runs through rural Tallahatchie County. His murderers, J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, admitted to kidnapping and torturing the Chicago teen before killing him, all because he whistled at a white woman. Though they were never convicted, their acquittal was a crucial moment in the history of the civil rights movement, as it drew national attention to the critical nature of the racial divide in the South.
There are currently eight site-markers in honor of Till in the area, all of which are routinely vandalized. “It shows that there's still people who do not want to remember or talk about Emmett Till," said Patrick Weems, a project coordinator for the Emmett Till Memorial Commission. Meanwhile, efforts to replace the sign are already underway. Click here to donate.