Mississippi Department of Archives & History
The Mississippi Department of Archives & History marker commemorating the Emmett Till Murder Trial was erected in 2007 outside the Tallahatchie County Courthouse in Sumner, Mississippi, where the trial was held in September 1955.
The GPS Location of this marker is: N 33° 58.252′ W 90° 22.185′
The marker reads:
“EMMETT TILL MURDER TRIAL – In August 1955 the body of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black youth from Chicago, was found in the Tallahatchie River. On September 23, in a five day trial held in this courthouse, an all-white jury acquitted two white men, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, of the murder. Both later confessed to the murder in a magazine interview. Till’s murder, coupled with the trial and acquittal of these men, drew international attention and galvanized the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi and the nation.”
The photos below show views of the Tallahatchie County Courthouse in Sumner , Mississippi. This building dates from 1902 and was placed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Here is a Google Street View image of the Tallhatchie County Courthouse with a link to Google Maps:
The interior of the Tallahatchie County Courthouse was renovated and restored in 2014 with funds from the State of Mississippi, the Mississippi Department of Archives and History and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
The Emmett Till murder in August 1955 and the subsequent murder trial in September 1955 were significant events in spurring the growth of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s.
There are some other sites associated with the Emmett Till case within easy driving distance of Sumner, Mississippi. There is a Freedom Trail marker outside the remains of Bryant’s Grocery in Money, Mississippi where Emmett Till first encountered the Bryants, a meeting which led to his murder. The Tutwiler Funeral Home, in Tutwiler, Mississippi, where Emmett Till’s body was prepared for transportation to his family in Chicago, has also been commemorated with a marker, although the building itself is derelict.
Here is an Emerican Experience documentary about the Emmett Till murder case and the subsequent trial:
An Emmett Till Interpretive Center has been opened directly across the street from the Tallahatchie County Courthouse in Sumner. The Emmett Till historical exhibit has recently been expanded to include the court room in which the Emmett Till murder trial was held.
The FBI reopened the Emmett Till case in 2004 and exhumed Emmett Till’s body in 2005, but in 2006 it decided not to proceed with any new charges. The case was turned over to local prosecutors in Mississippi, with the FBI suggesting a new investigation of Carolyn Bryant Donham, then 73.
In February 2007, a Mississippi grand jury ruled there was insufficient evidence to indict her, essentially closing the book on the case.
There is also a Mississippi Freedom Trail marker outside Bryant’s Grocery in Money, Mississippi.
Here are some links to more information on the Emmett Till murder case:
- Look Magazine article – featuring the confession of Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam ;
- emmetttillmurder.com – a site devoted to the Emmett Till case. It has a lot of good information on the case. ;
- American Experience documentary on Emmett Till case ;
- C-SPAN Interview of Christopher Benson, author of “Death Of Innocence.”
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