The kidnapping and murder of teenager Emmett Till still resonates today, particularly in light of other young African-Americans who’ve had their lives senselessly taken. On Jan. 24, 1956, a confession by J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, Till’s murderers’, was published by Look magazine in an article titled “The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi.” They were reportedly paid $4,000 for their story.
And shocking it was. In the article, Milam claimed to “like n****rs — in their place.” That place did not include the right to vote, control government, attend school with white children or allow Black men to have sex with white women.
In the summer of 1955, Till traveled from Chicago to Mississippi to spend time with cousins. He was just 14 years old when Milam and Bryant killed him for allegedly flirting with a white grocery store cashier.
“‘Chicago boy,’ I said, ‘I’m tired of ’em sending your kind down here to stir up trouble. God**m you, I’m going to make an example of you — just so everybody can know how me and my folks stand,'” Milam told the publication.
Milam and Bryant pleaded not guilty to the crime. And because Blacks were not allowed to serve on juries, there was never any real hope that the pair would be convicted. The tragedy helped spark the nation’s civil rights movement.
In 2004, the Department of Justice reopened the case, but ultimately decided to not pursue the matter.
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