1955 — 14 year old Emmett Till is murdered

Emmett Louis Till, known as “Bobo” was an African American boy from Chicago, Illinois, who was murdered after reportedly whistling at a white woman named Carolyn Bryant in Money, Mississippi (a small town in the state’s Delta region).

He was 14 years old.

His assailants – white men Roy Bryant (Carolyn’s husband) and J.W. Milam – beat him and an gouged out one of his eyes, before shooting him in the head, and throwing him into the Tallahatchie River with a 70-pound cotton gin fan tied to his body with barbed wire. It was three days before his corpse was discovered and retrieved by two fishermen.

Till’s mother insisted on a public funeral service, with an open casket so as to show the world the brutality of the killing. Although the culprits were tried, they were acquitted – although years later they admitted to the murder.

Emmett Till’s murder was widely publicised, and became one of the incidents that led to the growth and importance of the American Civil Rights Movement in the Fifties and Sixties.

Referenced in:
The Death Of Emmett Till — Bob Dylan