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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

What is: a vacant lot, where Dr. TRM Howard lived, Mound Bayou, Mississippi.

What was: Mound Bayou is 42 miles away from Sumner, MS where the Emmett Till trial occurred. However, it is an essential place in civil rights history for numerous reasons, but among them was that Mound Bayou and Dr. Howard’s house in particular, provided protection for witnesses, a home base for the black press, and a refuge for Till’s mother Mamie Till-Bradley. Without Mound Bayou and Dr Howard we would likely still not know what happened to Emmett Till.

Dr. Theodore Roosevelt Mason Howard was a legendary Mississippi activist and his charismatic style meant that threats on his life were common. In the years before Till was murdered, Howard already had a $1,000 price tag on his life. He traveled with armed bodyguards, and his home featured twenty-four-hour-a-day armed protection.  You get a sense of his home in #Tillthemovie

The sheer security of the Howard home explains why so many African Americans stayed with him when they came to Mississippi for the Till trial. It is why Till’s mother Mamie Till-Bradley, Michigan Congressman Charles C. Diggs, and other African Americans used the Howard home as their base camp.  Howard provided the motorcade that protected Mamie Till when she attended the trial.  Local stories tell of Mamie being wrapped up in a carpet on the floor of a car, as the body guards drove the 40 miles to court.

It was Howard’s home where on Sunday, September 18, 1955, around midnight when a young black plantation worker named Frank Young arrived claiming he had direct evidence linking J. W. Milam, Roy Bryant, and four others to the murder. He also broke the then-shocking news that Till had been killed in Sunflower County. He told Howard that, at approximately 6 am on August 28, Till had been conveyed via a pickup truck with four white people in the front and three African Americans in the back (including Till) to the seed barn on the Milam Plantation operated by J. W. Milam’s brother Leslie.

Young also Howard that witnesses heard desperate screams emanating from that seed barn; that they saw J. W. Milam emerge from the barn for a drink of water; that the screams gradually faded; and that a body was taken from the barn, covered with a tarpaulin, and placed in the back of a truck. He further assured Howard that this entire story could be verified by five Black witnesses: himself, Willie Reed, Add Reed, Walter Billingsley, and Amanda Bradley.

Several years later, Dr. Howard himself would be smuggled out of Mississippi to avoid a planned KKK hiton him.

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…