The Spark

“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.