60 years later: Remembering Emmett Till

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - It's been 60 years since an African American teenager from Chicago was brutally murdered in Mississippi after reportedly flirting with a white woman.

Emmett Till was visiting family in Money, Mississippi when he spoke to 21-year old Carolyn Bryant, who was married to the owner of a small grocery store there.

Several nights later, Bryant's husband and his half brother kidnapped Till, took him to a barn, and beat and tortured him before shooting and dumping his body in the river.

Till's mother, Mamie Till Mobley, decided to have a public funeral service with an open casket to show the world the brutality of the killing. His murder is noted as a pivotal event motivating the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

This weekend in Chicago, the Mamie Till Mobley Memorial Foundation is holding a 60th anniversary commemoration. Saturday will be a day marked with seminars, film screenings and performances. Sunday, a ceremony will be held at Robert’s Temple Church of God in Christ where Emmett Till’s funeral was held in 1955. 

On Friday, relatives and civil rights activists gathered at the gravesite of Till to remember the teenager.

The crowd surrounded the grave in Burr Oak Cemetery, south of Chicago, to listen to speeches and songs, and comfort one another with hugs. A large wreath of white flowers encircled a black and white portrait of Till's smiling face.

Friday's wreath-laying ceremony followed a procession from the church where the 14-year-old's funeral took place.

Addressing the crowd, U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush recalled his own mother explaining to him as an 8-year-old the "horrors" of Till's death. He said that memory still inspires him.

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