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New Emmett Till historical marker replaces vandalized sign



A new bulletproof marker now replaces this one that was riddled with bullets by vandals. Photo from the Emmett Till Memory Project.

The Emmett Till Memorial Commission of Tallahatchie County hosted a series of events from Oct. 17 to Oct. 19 culminating with the re-dedication of the Emmett Till historical marker at the Tallahatchie River site.

The events recognized the legacy of the murder of Emmett Till and replaced the previous sign that was vandalized, riddled with 20 bullet holes.

Also announced was the launch of the Emmett Till Memory Project, a new smartphone app and website that tells the story of Emmett Till at key historic sites.

Emmett Till

In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till was visiting family in Leflore County when he was abducted from his family members’ home, tortured, and brutally murdered by two white men. Three days later, his body was found in the Tallahatchie River.

The murder of Emmett Till has been widely regarded as one of the key events leading up to the Civil Rights Movement. In 2007, the Emmett Till Memorial Commission first posted a commemorative sign at the river site where Emmett Till’s body was found. Since then, Till signs have been vandalized with bullets, spray paint and acid. The sign has been previously replaced twice.

“We understand that racial reconciliation begins by telling the truth. Our historical marker’s allow a first step towards that truth telling process. Sadly, there are still those who want to deny the events of 1955. We cannot change our past but we have a responsibility to tell our stories together so we can move forward together with a shared future.” said Patrick Weems, director of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center, in a statement.

Community organizations and the University of Mississippi collaborated to host the series of events leading up to the re-dedication. They included a screening of the film “The Murder of Emmett Till” and a forum titled “Emmett Till: A Discussion on Race, Memory, and Responsibility.”

On Oct. 19, the re-dedication, co-sponsored by the Mississippi Center for Justice, began at the Tallahatchie County Courthouse in Sumner, Miss., and then moved to the river-site marker along the banks of the Tallahatchie River for the ceremony. Among those attending were members of the Till family.

Watch a video about the importance of the Emmett Till story and the marker on the Emmett Till Interpretive Center website.

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