FBI Seeks Answers in Till Murder

By: Gloria Riviera
By: Gloria Riviera

Almost 50 years after Emmett Till's death, his family returned to his grave as investigators removed his casket so that medical examiners can perform the autopsy that was never done.

Investigators are looking for clues that could lead to new arrests in a case many say energized the civil rights movement.

"For me personally, the event signifies that even though the system of justice sometimes turns very slowly, it still turns," said Arthur Everett of the FBI.

It was the summer of 1955 in Mississippi. Till was visiting from Chicago and he whistled at a white woman while shopping at a local store. Within days he was abducted, beaten and tortured to death.

Two white men were charged with murder. They were acquitted by an all-white jury. Years later, they sold their confessions to Look magazine. Both have since died.

The work of documentary filmmaker Keith Beauchamp helped to convince authorities to reopen the case. Beauchamp spent nine years researching Till's death. His evidence indicates more people were involved. Some, he says, are still alive.

"We have a long way to go," said Beauchamp. "The civil rights movement still exists in this country. It has never ended."

Till's mother, Mamie Till Mobley, inspired many beginning the day she insisted on an open casket at her son's funeral so the public could see what was happening in Mississippi. Beauchamp says justice in her son's case is one way to honor them both.


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