Courtroom Where Emmett Till’s Murderers Were Acquitted to Be a History Museum

David Tell, an associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas is leading a project to transform a courtroom in the Tallahatchie County Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, into an interactive history museum. The courtroom was the site of the trail of two White men who were accused on murdering Black teenager Emmett Till in 1955.

Emmett Till was a teenager from Chicago who spent the summer of 1955 with relatives in Mississippi. Till was accused of whistling at a White women. For this violation of the unwritten laws of Jim Crow, Till was brutally murdered and his death became a lightening rod for the civil rights movement. A trial with an all-White jury acquitted two White men of Till’s murder. The men later boasted in an interview with Look magazine that they had committed the murder.

Earlier, Dr. Tell created the Emmett Till Memory Project, an interactive website that focuses on 51 geographic sites in Mississippi that relate to the Emmett Till case. He will use this material as a base for the exhibits at the courthouse. “There are 12 windows in the courtroom,” Dr. Tell reports, “and when the shades are pulled down, they will double as screens, and the content they display on the screens will direct people to other sites outside the courtroom  – the grocery store where Emmett whistled as a White woman and started the chain of events, the place where he was killed etc.”

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  1. In the wake of the acquittal of Milam and Bryant many people exclusive of the South looked upon white Mississippians as evil, racist, inbred animals. And, obviously, most would rather be deemed this way than thought of as impetuous children who need guidance from the more “enlightened” folks in Washington and Boston. Had the proverbial mommies and daddies of the North not horned in to the affair, especially via their media, Milam and Bryant might have cashed in their chips inside the walls of Parchman. Moral: If you want to get a white male Southerner to do anything ALWAYS make him believe it was his idea in the first place.

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