Emmett Till investigation reopens decades after his murder

Emmett was a black teenager from Chicago who had been visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta when he was killed for harassing a white woman.

The federal government has quietly revived its investigation into the murder of Emmett Till, the 14-year-old African-American boy whose abduction and killing in 1955 remains among the starkest and most searing examples of racial violence in the South.

The 1955 slaying was listed in a March report among “activities” the department was pursuing under the 2007 unsolved civil rights crime act that bears Emmett’s name. The act paves the way for the department to “expeditiously investigate” unsolved pre-1980 civil rights murders.

But the Justice Department’s decision to devote new attention to the case is a demonstration of how deeply the episode resonates more than 60 years after Emmett was killed in rural Mississippi and photographs of his mutilated body were published, so staggering the nation that the case is now seen as a catalyst for the civil rights movement.


Emmett was from Chicago and had been visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta when he went into a store and encountered one of its owners, a white woman who ultimately complained that the teenager had grabbed her and made crude sexual remarks. He was kidnapped and killed days later, his body tethered to a cotton gin fan with barbed wire and then cast into a river.

(photo by Associated Press)

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