The tree line at the far side of a cotton field outside Glendora in Tallahatchie County looks insignificant enough. But the trees are growing along the banks of the Tallahatchie River. And just down from where Black Bayou empties into the Tallahatchie.
This is where, on August 28th 1955, the mutilated body of a 14-year-old black youngster from Chicago, Emmett Till, was found. Till had whistled at a white woman the afternoon before, while he was in Mississippi visiting his great uncle. After his body was found, the world changed.
Emmett Till was abducted from his great uncles home at 2:30 the next morning by Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam. They admitted killing the boy after an all-white jury acquitted them.
The whole thing would have probably have never been noticed had it not been for Emmett's mother, Mamie Carthan Till, insisting on an open casket funeral for her son back home in Chicago so the world could see what had happened to her boy.
National magazines circulated the photograph. And the Civil Rights movement in American became more than words at that point. It took on action.
The river where his body was found runs almost under the shadow of what used to be the cotton gin where the fan blade used to weigh Emmett Till's body down was obtained.
This old cotton gin building is now the National Emmett Till Museum, put together by the town of Glendora.
Why Glendora? Mayor of the community Johnny Thomas explains.
"We claim to be the birthplace of the modern Civil Rights. said Thomas. "And that came by because we say that the premeditation in this whole Emmett Till case started in Glendora."
The Civil Rights Movement got noticed when Rosa Parks was arrested for civil disobedience for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus in Montgomery, Alabama to a white passenger later in 1955, sparking the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
"So in lieu of what Mrs. Rosa Parks said, that she wasn't tired, she thought about what happened to the kid in Mississippi, the reason she didn't go back to the back of the bus," explained Thomas.
The story of Emmett Till, including the photograph of him in his coffin after his beating, is in the museum in his honor; the old cotton gin in Glendora, Mississippi just off Highway 49E in Tallahatchie County.
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