The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Emmett Till Case:
Racism Then and Now

May 17, 2004

After half a century, the Justice Department just announced it was re-opening the Emmett Till case.

Emmett Till, a black 14-year-old from Chicago, was murdered in 1955 in Mississippi. He was beaten, shot and dropped into the Tallahatchie River, supposedly because he had whistled at a white woman. An all-white jury acquitted the woman’s husband and brother of committing this crime, though the two later gloated about it and discussed the details with a reporter for a national magazine. The others involved were never charged.

For 49 years, no level of the government–not only the Mississippi state police and court officials, but also the U.S. Justice Department and the FBI–did anything about this case.

Why is the case being re-opened now? The Justice Department says new evidence was turned up–by two documentary filmmakers who interviewed people in Mississippi. One of them reported, "We were able to go to Mississippi and find people in a week or two who had evidence to give."

Two filmmakers can turn up in a week or two what the government couldn’t do in 49 years!

But then the filmmakers wanted to tell the truth about the case.