Who Killed Emmett Till? Emmett Till’s Murderers Includes Documents, Photos, Music, Testimonies, Confessions, FBI Reports and More

Classic news photo of the defense attorneys taken at the trial of Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam for the murder of Emmett Till that took place in Sumner, Mississippi
in September of 1955 

I RECENTLY ran into this Famous Trials website compiled by the University of Missouri Kansas City School of Law (UMKC) that includes a complete “package” of the famous trial surrounding the murder of Emmett Till. 

It includes everything imaginable — from a thorough chronology of events to FBI documents, testimonies, confessions, and even music about this civil rights event that shook the world.


Chronology  Images  Maps  Accounts of Grocery Store Incident Accounts of Abduction Diagram of Abductors’ Path Sheriff (‘Not Till’s Body) Trial Testimony Bryant and Milam’s Confession  The FBI Report Emmett Till Murder in Song Links and Bibliography



WE KNOW some of this story by heart: On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to obey an order to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus to a white person, an action that led to a boycott of the Montgomery bus system.

News accounts of this Mississippi murder were published around the world, representing the first time the world was told the story of significant racism often leading to murder in the United States. 

BUT DID you know that Rosa Parks had in mind a murder trial that happened two months earlier in Sumner, Mississippi? Fourteen-year-old boy, Emmett Till, had been brutally murdered and his body thrown in the Tallahatchie River. Yet even though the evidence was clear that two white men killed him, an all-white jury returned a “Not Guilty” verdict after less than an hour of deliberation. 

The news of Emmett’s death and the sham of a trial caused Parks to get further involved in the cry for justice and equal rights. The “not guilty” verdict of Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam for the murder of Till shook not just the conscience of Parks, but of many people throughout the United States, and even around the world, and helped spark the modern movement for civil rights for black Americans.

I USED TO LIVE in the Mississippi Delta, very near the place where this young Chicago boy was killed. I have visited the tool shed where it happened, and this memory haunts me today. Do we pay too much attention to this crime that happened so long ago? Some ask this question today, in light of the recent killings of young black teens including Trayvon Martin. ‘

I believe the murder of Emmett is as relevant today as it was back then. Jim Crow has taken on a new face, but he has not disappeared. We must continue to fight the battle for Emmett and others killed before and after him, or nothing will ever change.

Take a look at these documents and materials for yourself, and then follow the heroic steps of Rosa Parks, and do something important to help bring change. It will honor the young man who’s light still shines in our hearts and minds. Emmett Till is not forgotten. This was his mother’s wish, that his memory live on, and we can ensure this happens.

SUSAN KLOPFER, civil rights author and speaker’

P.S. You can also read more about the Milam/Bryant trial here in an account by Douglas O. Lindner