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What is: Mose Wright’s sharecroppinig home.  Money, Mississippi

Emmett Till was kidnapped from the location seen in the historic images below. It no longer exists.  The image Im sharing is about half a mile from the original location.  On the evening of August 28, 1955. He was staying at the home of his great uncle and aunt, Moses and Elizabeth Wright, who sharecropped 25 acres of cotton on the Grover Frederick Plantation. Source:https://tillapp.emmett-till.org/items/show/13

What was:  On Saturday, August 27th 1955, Mose Wright, his three sons, the three relatives from Chicago including Emmett Till and some of the neighbors went into the city of Greenwood for some fun. The boys walked the busy streets, gazed at the nightclubs and were amazed by the large crowds of the city.  They would drive back to Money, MS and by 2am all were asleep after a big night out.  Simeon Wright and Emmett shared a bed.

Suddenly there was a loud knock at the door.  Mr Bryant identified himself saying he needed to talk the boy who did all the talking.   Another man had a flashlight and a gun. They cased the house and found Emmett Till.  They made him get dressed and took him.  They told Mose Wright, who had said he was 64 years old, “if you ever know any of us here tonight, you wont live to be 65.” Mose asked them to just give Emmett a whipping and Moses’ wife offered money for any damages Emmett had caused.

Emmett was driven away into the night.

There is a warrant for Carolyn Bryant’s arrest in relation to the kidnapping. She is still alive and the warrant has never been fulfilled.

From FBI Investigation in the 2000s

Home of Mose Wright, Emmett Till’s great uncle, where Till was staying when he has abducted and murdered. Sept. 1, 1955

Domestic terrorism and militias have always been around….question is how much breath do they get and/or do we give them.

What is: The Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial, perfectly manicured lawn, gently lit “chairs”- one for each  of the 168 people, including 19 children, who were killed when domestic terrorists parked a truck bomb in the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building. Each chair has a name on it.  Small chairs for the children.

What was:  On April 19, 1995 – 27 years ago, the bombing happened at 9:02 am and killed 168 people, injured more than 680 others and destroyed one third of the building. The blast destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings, and destroyed or burned 86 cars, causing an estimated $652 million worth of damage.  Until the September 11 attacks in 2001, the Oklahoma City bombing was the deadliest terrorist attack in the history of the United States, and remains the deadliest incident of domestic terrorism in the country’s history. The official investigation, known as “OKBOMB”, saw FBI agents conduct 28,000 interviews, amass 3.5 short tons (3,200 kg) of evidence, and collect nearly one billion pieces of information. The bombers were tried and convicted in 1997.

If you ever get a chance see this memorial and then go to the museum for the exhibits and to listen to the bombing as recorded from across the street https://memorialmuseum.com/

 

What is: Tallahatchie Sheriff’s Office and Jail, Charleston, Mississippi

What was: An imposing man weighing 270 pounds, Strider was the sheriff of Tallahatchie County and a wealthy plantation owner in the heart of the cotton-growing Delta. His property could be identified from miles away by the letters S-T-R-I-D-E-R, which he insisted be painted on the roofs of sharecroppers’ shacks.  Strider was the first official to learn that a body had been discovered by a young man fishing in the Tallahatchie River.  He would also become the first person to question whether the body they found that day was a black man or even Emmett Till.

Originally Roy Bryant and half-brother JW Milan were arrested and held in Leflore County jail for kidnapping.  After an 18-member grand jury hearing held in Sumner issued indictments for kidnapping and murder on September 6, in Tallahatchie County, Milam and Bryant were moved to this jail in the Tallahatchie County seat at Charleston.

Carolyn Bryant’s “memoir” notes that one evening, she and her sister-in-law, Juanita Milam, were “smuggled” into the jail for a lovely dinner and evening with their husbands.  She also recounts an evening before the trial when Milam and Bryant showed up for a lovely extended family gathering at Leslie Milam’s plantation house (the same place where Emmett Till was tortured and murdered out in the shed).

There is another reason this jail has a strange place in the Emmett Till story.  At least two of JW Milan’s black employees were forced to be involved in Till’s kidnapping and murder. The employees were Levi “Too Tight” Collins and Henry Lee Loggins. Because Loggins and Collins were eyewitnesses to the murder they held the potential, if they could be found and convinced to testify, to fundamentally alter the legal proceedings.

Loggins and Collins, however, could not be found. According to one of the Black reporters covering the story, Jimmy Hicks, the men had been booked in this jail, in Charleston, 28 miles away from the trial, to preclude the possibility that they might be found and might testify. https://tillapp.emmett-till.org/items/show/7

What is: Sumner, MS courthouse jury seats…Go watch Till, the movie…. opening everywhere tomorrow. Trailer here.

What was: On September 23, 1955, in a five day trial held here, an all-white male jury acquitted two other white men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, of murder. The trial included missing witnesses, a sheriff proposing a conspiracy theory about whether the tortured body was really of the boy, Emmett Till, as well as lack of some key investigatory undertakings. The jury took one hour and seven minutes to reach its verdict, with one juror noting the decision could have come sooner but they were told to take some extra time to make it look good, so they went and bought some sodas. There were rumors of “reminders” and “threats” from the local white citizen council about the jury knowing its’ duty. The trial transcript and all of the evidence in the trial disappeared over the years. Years later (early 2000s) the FBI re-opened the case. They found the lost transcript.

I have a series of images related to the Emmett Till story collected here

Whoopi Goldberg on the movie. Review, Till grippingly reorients American Tragedy.

Bryants grocery store today…it sits beside a perfectly restored gas station

Where they had dug a shallow grave and hoped to bury the story

Where Moses Wright Lived and the kidnapping took place

The shed of torture

supposedly the bridge where the body was thrown away…with a gin fan hung tied. around the neck with barbed wire…as if killing and torture/lynching was not enough

Bryants Grocery

The Shed of Torture of a 14 year old boy

The shed…walk in and hear the screams of Mama…

What is: The restored Tallahatchie County Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi. The symmetry of it all…and yet the tortured curve of Justice.

What was: On September 23, 1955, after a 5 day trial for the murder of Emmett Till, Roy Bryant and J. W Milan were acquitted by an all-white all-male jury of the murder. The trial drew national and international attention, galvanizing the civil rights movement. The jury took 67 minutes to reach a decision with a juror noting it would have been shorter if they had not gone for some refreshments — simply to extend the time.

The trial included bravery as Emmett Till’s great Uncle, Mose Wright, a sharecropper, stood up and identified the two white men in court as the individuals who had kidnapped the 14 year old boy. Several other African American witnesses bravely came forward to testify and then had to be spirited out of the State after their testimony for their own safety. There were rumors of other witnesses, who could not be found and were likely threatened and hidden by “authorities” and “co-conspirators” who were never charged.

The trial also included conspiracy theories such as the body was not really the body of the dead boy.

On January 24, 1956, Look magazine published the confessions of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant. The physical evidence used in the trial disappeared, as did the transcript of the trial. In 2005 the trial transcript was recovered by the FBI.

Twisted justice.  No Justice…67 years later

Be sure to visit the Emmett Till Interpretive Center.