One of the more touching stories during the civil rights movement, was the brutal murder of Emmett Till. Being one of many highly disturbing tragedies during the era, Till’s case was especially significant because it served as an accurate reflection of race relations in America during the 1960s. Millions of people have heard of Emmett Till, but very few actually get the opportunity to stand in the mist of history.
The physical journey to the funeral home where his body was sent, to the courthouse where his killers were tried then set free, to the exact grocery store where he allegedly whistled at Carolyn Bryant, and standing where his mutilated body was found was an experience like no other. As we stood at the various sites, Jerome Little, president of the Tallahatchie Board of Supervisors, and Robert E. Huddleston, the first and current African American State Representative of Mississippi, thoroughly guided us through the sites involved in the Till story. The tour was created by the Emmett Till Memorial Commission of Mississippi in 2007.
Prior to our arrival to Mississippi, I had my reservations. Not only is it the home of the Emmett Till murder, but of the murders of CORE voting rights activists Andrew Goodman, Michael Schwerner, and James Chaney, as well as its high involvement with the Ku Klux Klan. As we drove into Mississippi, a strange mixture of nervousness and being antsy came over me. Scenery full of thousands of barren trees due to the chilly, winter weather, single-lane dirt roads, and dilapidated buildings provoked my attempt to imagine living there 40 years ago. And therein lies the issue: I couldn’t. It was impossible for me to fathom living in such a secluded yet spaced out place, especially being born and raised in the lively and overcrowded city of San Francisco, CA.
Mississippi has an eerie feel. One who’s trees scream injustice, who’s roads are worn from weary feet and who’s wind cries for the souls lost during it once dark and gloomy past. If these walls could talk? More like if this land could talk. Ashe’.
Peace and Blessings,
Angela A. Hughes