On this day, August 28, 1955, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old black teenager from Chicago, was kidnapped, tortured, and brutally murdered in Mississippi, for allegedly “flirting” with a white woman (who later denied the story).
His mother, Mamie Till, insisted on a open-casket funeral. Horrifying images of his drowned body were published, and were a major factor in galvanizing the Civil Rights movement.
His murderers were acquitted of any wrongdoing. They later confessed to the crime.
Laurie’s Memory Landscape photograph “Handkerchief” includes the last year he was alive, and invokes her memories of that time and of how little has changed.
On this day eight years later, a quarter of a million people gathered in Washington to demand change. Martin Luther King gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech that day.
Many of the gains of the civil rights movement have been dismantled. Black men and women face fear of white violence (both police violence and civilian racist violence) every day in America. The struggle waxes and wanes.
Rest in power, Emmett Till. Rest in power, too many to name. Black lives still matter.