"The Murder and the Movement"

The Story of the Murder of Emmett Till

Streaming Video

Curator's note: This video---reported and written by Rich Samuels and prodiced by Anna Vasser---originally aired on WMAQ-TV in July of 1985, almost thirty years after the murder of Emmett Till. It is an expanded version of material that had aired on WMAQ-TV newscasts the previous May.

Above: Emmett Till.

Watch the video:

Segment 1: Introducing Mamie Mobley, mother of Emmett Till and founder of the Emmett Till Players. She recounts how her son went to Mississippi to visit Moses Wright, his great-uncle in late August of 1955. Simeon Wright, youngest son of Moses Wright, and Wheeler Parker, Emmett's cousin, describe the incident at the store of Roy Bryant in Money, Mississippi, that led to Emmett's abduction from the Wright home. Moses Wright, via newsreel footage, contributes to the narrative.

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Segment 2: Mississippi resident Simon Garrett describes how he and others found the body of Emmett Till in the Tallahatchie River. Chicago funeral director A.A. "Sammy" Rayner, Jr., describes the condition of Emmett's remains. Mamie Mobley explains her decision to present her son in an open casket. Bishop Louis Ford describes Emmett's September 3rd 1955 funeral at the Robert's Temple Church of God in Christ. Simeon Booker, Washington Bureau Chief of Jet Magazine and author James Balswin describe the impact of the photograph of Emmett in his casket published by Jet.

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Segment 3: The trial of Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam. Accused of Emmett's murder, they stood trial in Sumner, Mississippi. Tallahatchie County Sheriff H.C. Strider laments (via 1955 newsreel) that the NAACP has radicalized Mississippi Blacks. Myrlie Evers, widow of Medgar Evers describes the effect of the Till murder on her husband, NAACP Field Secretary for Mississippi. Simeon Booker, former Congressman Charles Diggs and Mamie Mobley describe the atmosphere at the trial, the highlight of which was the testimony of Moses Wright identifying Bryant and Milam as Emmett's abductors. John Whitten, attorney for the accused, and Ray Tribble, one of the jurors, reflect (in 1985) on the trial and acquittal of Bryant and Milam.

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Segment 4: Epilogue: Leflore and Tallatchie counties in 1985. Blacks are elected to city government for the first time in Greenwood. On a Saturday afternoon in the spring of 1985, Rich Samuels encounters Roy Bryant at Bryant's country store in Ruleville, Mississippi. Bryant ejects Samuels and his crew.

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People and Places featured in "The Murder and the Movement":

Right: Mamie Till Mobley, Emmet Till's mother. (Ms. Mobley passed away on January 6th, 2003 at the age of 81). Mamie Till Mobley

Left: Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, charged with Emmett Till's murder but acquitted by an all-white jury. They are seen here outside the office of attorney John Whitten who defended them.

Right: Roy Bryant ejects Rich Samuels and his camera crew from Bryant's store in Ruleville, Mississippi in the spring of 1985. Bryant declined to comment for the pieces Samuels was preparing. Roy Bryant and Rich Samuels

Roy Bryant's store, Ruleville, Missippi Left: Roy Bryant's store in Ruleville, Mississippi.

Right: Writer William Bradford Huie, to whom Milam and Bryant confessed that they had participated in the murder of Emmett Till. William Bradford Huie

Moses Wright Left: Moses Wright, great-uncle of Emmett Till. In court, Wright identified Milam and Bryant as the men who came to his home and abducted Emmett.

Right: Simeon Wright, son of Moses Wright and Emmett Till's cousin. He was with Emmett at the time of his abduction. Simeon Wright

Wheeler Parker Left: Wheeler Parker, a cousin who was also present at the time of Emmett Till's abduction.

Bishop Louis Ford Left: Bishop Louis Ford who preached at Emmett Till's funeral at the Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ.

Right: Tallahatchie County Sheriff H.C. Strider. Sheriff H.C. Srider

Charles Diggs Left: Former Michigan Congressman Charles Diggs attented the trial of Milam and Bryant as an observer.

Right: Simeon Booker, Washington Bureau Chief for Jet Magazine. Simeon Booker

Right: John Whitten, one of the attorneys who defended Milam and Bryant. John Whitten

Ray Tribble Left: Ray Tribble, one of the jurors who acquitted Bryant and Milam.

Myrlie Evers Left: Myrlie Evers, widow of Medgar Evers, Mississippi Field Secretary for the NAACP.

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