We came to the small town of Tutwiler, in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi to see two sites: the site of the Tutwiler train station where W.C. Handy first encountered the Blues, and the site of Sonny Boy Williamson’s grave in a small cemetery just outside Tutwiler.
But as we walked around Tutwiler, we came across this sign for the Tutwiler Funeral Home, on Hancock Street, about a block from the Mississippi Blues Trail‘s W.C. Handy Encounters The Blues marker, and, after reading the sign and seeing the building, we decided to add this building to our website. Here’s the sign outside the building:
We are not sure which organization placed this sign; the floral logo at the top is similar to the logo on the Mississippi Department of Archives & History markers but the Mississippi Department of Archives & History markers typically have a green background; this sign has a purple background.
Nor is this a Mississippi Freedom Trail marker, although its subject clearly falls within the scope of the Mississippi Freedom Trail. There is nothing on the sign saying which organization placed it here.
This sign reads:
“Tutwiler Funeral Home – On August 31, 1955, Woodrow Jackson prepared Emmett Till‘s body here at the Tutwiler Funeral Home, to return to Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobely, in Chicago. Emmett’s uncle, Crosby Smith, had to sign a document promising not to open the casket. Once the body reached Chicago, Mamie Till-Mobely defied that order, promising to show the world what was done to her son. The public outcry over the condition of Emmett’s mutilated body is considered to be one of the main sparks that ignited the civil rights movement.”
Here are two documentaries about the Emmett Till murder.
The Emmett Till murder case was indeed a pivotal event in the history of the civil rights movement. So we were really surprised when we saw the condition of this building which, according to the sign outside, clearly has an important place in the history of that pivotal case for the civil rights movement.
The building is in ruins, as shown in the photo above. We were surprised to see that a building with an important connection to the Emmett Till murder case has been allowed to fall into such a state of disrepair.
The following photos show the current condition of the Tutwiler Funeral Home building.
The rear of the building (shown below) faces onto the site of the Mississippi Blues Trail‘s W.C. Handy Encounters The Blues marker and the site of Tutwiler’s former train station where W.C. Handy first encountered the Blues.
Here is the Google Street View of this site along with a link to the location of this site on Google Maps:
For more information about the Emmett Till murder, see our pages on Bryant’s Grocery and the Emmett Till Murder Trial
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