Till continues to be the focus of literature and memorials. A statue was unveiled in Denver in 1976 (and has since been moved to Pueblo, Colorado) featuring Till with Martin Luther King, Jr. Till was included among the forty names of people who had died in the Civil Rights Movement (listed asmartyrs[114]) on the granite sculpture of the Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Alabama, dedicated in 1989. In 1991, a 7-mile (11 km) stretch of 71st Street in Chicago, was renamed "Emmett Till Road". Mamie Till-Mobley attended many of the dedications for the memorials, including a demonstration in Selma, Alabama on the 35th anniversary of the march over the Edmund Pettis Bridge. She later wrote in her memoirs, "I realized that Emmett had achieved the significant impact in death that he had been denied in life. Even so, I had never wanted Emmett to be a martyr. I only wanted him to be a good son. Although I realized all the great things that had been accomplished largely because of the sacrifices made by so many people, I found myself wishing that somehow we could have done it another way."[115] Till-Mobley died in 2003, the same year her memoirs were published.

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James McCosh Elementary School in Chicago, where Till had been a student, was renamed the "Emmett Louis Till Math And Science Academy" in 2005.[116] The "Emmett Till Memorial Highway" was dedicated between Greenwood and Tutwiler, Mississippi, the same route his body took to the train station on its way to Chicago. It intersects with the H. C. "Clarence" Strider Memorial Highway.[117] In 2007, Tallahatchie County issued a formal apology to Till's family, reading "We the citizens of Tallahatchie County recognize that the Emmett Till case was a terrible miscarriage of justice. We state candidly and with deep regret the failure to effectively pursue justice. We wish to say to the family of Emmett Till that we are profoundly sorry for what was done in this community to your loved one."[118] The same year, Georgia congressman John Lewis, whose skull was fractured while being beaten during the 1965 Selma march, sponsored a bill that provides a plan for investigating and prosecuting unsolved Civil Rights era murders. The Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crime Act was signed into law in 2008.[119]

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Casket

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On July 9, 2009, a manager and three laborers at Burr Oak Cemetery were charged with digging up bodies, dumping them in a remote area, and reselling the plots. Till's grave was not disturbed, but investigators found his original glass-topped casket rusting in a dilapidated storage shed.[120] When Till was reburied in a new casket in 2005, there were plans for an Emmett Till memorial museum, where his original casket would be installed. The cemetery manager, who administered the memorial fund, pocketed donations intended for the memorial. It is unclear how much money was collected. Cemetery officials also neglected the casket, which was discolored, the interior fabric torn, and bore evidence that animals had been living in it, although its glass top was still intact. The Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. acquired the casket a month later. According to director Lonnie Bunch III, it is an artifact with potential to stop future visitors and make them think.[113]

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The remains of Bryant's Grocery and Meat Market as it appeared in 2009
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Bryant's Grocery, 2013
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Till's mother insisted on an open casket funeral. Images of Till's body, printed in The Chicago Defender andJet magazine, made international news and directed attention to the rights of the blacks in the U.S. South.
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Ernest Withers defied the judge's orders prohibiting photography during the trial to document Mose Wright standing to identify J. W. Milam, which "signified intimidation of Delta blacks was no longer as effective as the past"[64] and Wright had "crossed a line that no one could remember a black man ever crossing in Mississippi".[65]
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See also

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Notes

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    Accounts are unclear; Till had just completed the seventh grade at the all-black McCosh Elementary School in Chicago (Whitfield, p. 17).

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    Some recollections of this part of the story relate that news of the incident traveled in both black and white societies very quickly. Others state that Carolyn Bryant refused to tell her husband and Till's oldest cousin Maurice Wright, perhaps put off by Till's bragging and clothes, told Roy Bryant at his store about Till's interaction with Bryant's wife. (Whitfield, p. 19.)

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    Several major inconsistencies between what Bryant and Milam told interviewer William Bradford Huie and what they had told others were noted by the FBI. They told Huie they were sober, yet reported years later they had been drinking. In the interview, they stated they had driven what would have been 164 miles (264 km) looking for a place to dispose of Till's body, to the cotton gin to obtain the fan, and back again, which the FBI noted would be impossible in the time they were witnessed having returned. Several witnesses recalled that they saw Bryant, Milam, and two or more black men with Till's beaten body in the back of the pickup truck in Glendora, yet they did not admit to being in Glendora to Huie. (FBI, [2006], pp. 86–96.)

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    Many years later, there were allegations that Till had been castrated. (Mitchell, 2007) John Cothran, the deputy sheriff who was at the scene where Till was removed from the river testified, however, that apart from the decomposition typical of a body being submerged in water, his genitals were intact. (FBI [2006]: Appendix Court transcript, p. 176.) Mamie Till-Mobley also confirmed this in her memoirs. (Till-Bradley and Benson, p. 135.)

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    When Jet publisher John H. Johnson died in 2005, people who remembered his career considered his decision to publish Till's open casket photograph his greatest moment. Michigan congressman Charles Diggs recalled that for the emotion the image stimulated, it was "probably one of the greatest media products in the last 40 or 50 years". (Dewan, 2005)

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    Strider was apparently unable to be consistent with his own theory. Following the trial he told a television reporter that should anyone who had sent him hate mail arrive in Mississippi "the same thing's gonna happen to them that happened to Emmett Till". (Whitfield, p. 44.)

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    The trial transcript reads the line as "There he is", although witnesses recall variations of "Dar he", "Thar he", or "Thar's the one". Wright's family protested that Mose Wright was made to sound illiterate and insists he said "There he is." (Mitchell, 2007)

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    A month after Huie's article appeared in Look, T. R. M. Howard worked with Olive Arnold Adams of The New York Age to put forth a version of the events that agreed more with the testimony at the trial and what Howard had been told by Frank Young. It appeared as a booklet titledTime Bomb: Mississippi Exposed and the Full Story of Emmett Till. Howard also acted as a source for an as-yet unidentified reporter using thepseudonym Amos Dixon in the California Eagle. Dixon wrote a series of articles implicating three black men, and Leslie Milam, who, Dixon asserted, had participated in Till's murder in some way. Time Bomb and Dixon's articles had no lasting impact in the shaping of public opinion. Huie's article in the far more widely circulated Look became the most commonly accepted version of events. (Beito and Beito, pp. 150–151.)

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    Such was the animosity toward the murderers that in 1961, while in Texas, when Bryant recognized the license plate of a Tallahatchie County resident, he called out a greeting and identified himself. The resident, upon hearing the name, drove away without speaking to Bryant. (Whitaker, 2005)

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References

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    Houck and Grindy, p. 20.

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    Jr, Deborah Gray White, Mia Bay, Waldo E. Martin (2013).Freedom on my mind : a history of African Americans, with documents. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's. p. 637. ISBN 978-0-312-64884-8.

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    Houck and Grindy, pp. 4–5.

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    Whitfield, p. 15.

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    Beito and Beito, p. 116.

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    Whitaker (1963), p. 19.

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    Till-Mobley and Benson, pp. 14–16.

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    Till-Mobley and Benson, p. 17.

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    Till-Mobley and Benson, pp. 36–38.

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