Accused of hissing the owner of the grocery store
August 1955. Emmett Till is 14 years old. The African-American teenager who lives in Chicago with his mother, must stay for the summer at his grand-uncle Moses, in Money, Mississippi. A racist, segregationist state, where black lynchings were not isolated cases.
On August 24, after harvesting cotton in the fields, Emmett and friends went to a grocery store to buy drinks. Carolyne Bryant Donham, the white owner of the store will later say, that the teenager had whistled, caught by the waist and dredged vulgarly.
Tortured to death
A few days later, Carolyne's husband Bryant Donham and his half-brother land at night at the teenager's uncle's for a punitive expedition. Emmett is kidnapped, beaten, maimed, tortured. His eyes are torn, his face torn. He is still breathing when the two men throw him into a nearby river, where his body will be discovered several days later.
Emmett Till becomes a symbol …
Emmett Till's unrecognizable face, left open at the sight of those present at her funeral at the request of her mother, Mamie Till, is seen by thousands of people who have come to greet her body. Photographed and published in the press, it is then presented to countries as a symbol of the violence of racist America.
… and the perpetrators are acquitted
The day of the funeral, a Mississippi court must judge the case. Carolyn Bryant Donham, then 21, reiterates her allegations against the African-American teenager. Both perpetrators are acquitted.
A few months later, knowing that the lawsuits against them could not be relaunched, they will recognize their involvement in an interview with the magazine look and paid $ 3,000.
Nothing that this boy could have done could have justified what happened to him.
Carolyn Bryant Donham
Carolyne Bryant Donham gave an interview to historian Tymothy B. Tyson, a professor at Duke University in 2007. The only one she ever granted after the case. His words are revealed in the book "The Blood of Emmett Till", to be released in early February, ten years after this interview.
It was the American magazine Vanity Fair that first reported his remarks. Aged 72 years in the interview with the historian, she said she no longer remember in detail the visit of young teenagers at the grocery store. But admitted that Emmett Till had never dredged it.
"Nothing that this boy could have done could have justified what happened to him", she added, adding to feeling "sorry".
These revelations caused a stir in the United States, several decades after the teenager's death. A petition has emerged to ask the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People to sue the former grocer. On social networks, the hashtag Emmett Till is particularly used in recent days.
The white woman who accused emmet till whistled at her and then said she was not telling the truth. Should be in prison.
– Biarah Marie ✨ (@teebeenblazin_) January 31, 2017
The death of Emmett Till was a milestone in the advent of the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, one of whose most famous figures is Reverend Martin Luther King. Many artists, from Bob Dylan to Kanye West and jazz singer Melody Gardot, have denounced the boy's fate in music.
The poet Aimé Césaire paid tribute to him with a poem in his collection Fittings published in 1960.
Your eyes were a sea conch or sparkling battle
From your blood of fifteen
They had never been old
Or rather on them weighed
More than all skyscrapers, five centuries of torturers
From witch burners, five centuries of bad gin of big cigars
Bighties full of bibles rancies
Five centuries of bitter mouth of sins of rombières
They had five centuries Emmett Till
Five Centuries Is The Ageless Age Of Cain's Magpie