Emmett Louis Till
(b. July 25, 1941, Chicago, Ill.; d. August 28, 1955, LeFlore Country, Miss.)
Emmett Till was a 14 year old boy whose murder in August 1955 became a rallying point for the civil rights movement.
Born and raised in Chicago, at the age of 14 he was sent to Mississippi to spend the summer with his uncle. When he bragged to his southern friends that in Chicago he had a white girlfriend, his friends dared him to enter a store and ask a white woman for a date. Unaccustomed to the dangerous racism of the South, Till hugged a white woman named Carol Bryant around the waist and squeezed her hand, then whistled at her as his friends rushed him away.
On August 28, 1955, Carol Bryant's husband, Roy, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, abducted Till from his uncle's home. Three days later, his naked and mangled body was found in the Tallahatchie River. He had been shot in the head. Bryant and Milam were tried one month later by an all-white jury, and despite the fact that they admitted abducting Till, they were acquitted because "the body was too mangled to be positively identified".
Photographs of Till's open casket were reprinted across the country, and his youth, the innocence of his "crime", the brutality of his death, and the blatant guilt of the men who had gone free awakened many people to the severity of racism in the south.
In 1962 Bob Dylan wrote a song about it called The Death of Emmett Till