Emmett Till’s Memorial Damaged By Vandals Once Again

The memorial to Emmett Till is found riddled with bullet holes while his killer’s marker has been adorned with flowers.

Emmett Louis Till  was a Black youth lynched in Mississippi for allegedly courting a white woman when he was 14. Till’s death served as a powerful catalyst which marked the next stage of the Civil Rights Movement. Events related to Emmett Till‘s murder seem to continue resonating. For example, the memorial sign installed in the place where Emmett’ body was found in the Mississippi in 1955 has been repeatedly vandalized in different ways since 2007. Below you can find all the necessary information concerning the latest case of utter hooliganism.


A memorial sign marking the place where Emmett Till‘s mutilated body was discovered in a Mississippi river in 1955 is riddled with bullet holes — and has been routinely vandalized since it went up in 2007.

Till, a Black Chicago teen whose racially charged murder was a catalyst for the civil rights movement, was killed on August 28, 1955 by two white men while visiting his uncle in Money, Miss. His murderers, J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, were acquitted by an all-white jury but later confessed to kidnapping, torturing and killing the 14-year-old because he had whistled at Bryant’s wife. See more


“I didn’t intend to kill the ngger when we went and got him – just whip him and chase him back up yonder,” he told Look magazine in 1957. “But what the hell! He showed me the white gal’s picture! Bragged o’ what he’d done to her! I counted pictures o’ three white gals in his pocketbook before I burned it. What else could I do? No use lettin’ him get no bigger!”

According to Slate, the Emmett Till Memorial Commission put up eight signs commemorating the teen’s death as a way to boost tourism and raise funds for a museum dedicated to Till’s memory in 2007. A tourist who recently visited the memorial marking the place where Till’s body was found posted a photo of the plaque to his Facebook page, showing the sign blasted with bullet holes.

Unfortunately, several of the signs have been repeatedly vandalized, shot or stolen since they were installed nearly 10 years ago. For instance, Slate reports that one of the signs placed on U.S. Highway 49 was stolen in 2007 — the same year it was put up. Another one in Tallahatchie County was defaced the following year. The original plaque marking where the teen’s body was discovered was also ripped down by vandals.

“We’re not going to tolerate them tearing down anything that’s marking Emmett Till’s murder,” Board of Supervisors President Jerome G. Little told the publication. “I want to send a message: Every time they take it down, we’re going to put it back up.” See more


However, a sign marking the home of J.W. Milam (one of the men that murdered Till) has suffered little to no damage in comparison to Till’s memorial. Milam’s plaque is adorned by flowers, which community members planted around the sign following his death due to spine cancer in 1980. See more


Patrick Weems, who runs the Emmett Till Interpretive Center across the street from the courthouse, is raising money to replace the vandalized Emmett Till sign.

The Emmett Till Memory Project is a website and smartphone app that lets people visit all the significant places connected to the Till story — 51 in all.

“It’s not bricks and mortar so you can’t shoot it,” said Davis Houck, Fannie Lou Hamer professor of rhetorical studies at Florida State University, who is a part of the project team with Tell, Pablo Correa, also of Florida State and Chris Spielvogel of Penn State University.

Through the app, people can learn about the varying versions of the story, Houck said. “They can see how history gets written on the landscape.”

Hopes are to expand the app to include primary documents from the Till case, he said. “That way people can connect with the real history.” See more

Vandalism is a nasty thing but race-motivated vandalism is even worse. And the above-described events prove that there still are people who think Emmett Till deserved to die and as the local authorities are unable to influence their views or rightfully punish them we need to demand at leat to protect the memorial.

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