While working on some poems about Emmett Till and his mother, Mamie Till, I came across this public domain photograph from 2009, of Bryant’s Gorcery & Meat Market in Money, Mississippi.
This is the store, where in 1955, the 14 year-old Emmett Till supposedly flirted or whistled at the white owner’s wife. Later that night, the store owner, Roy Bryant, along with another man, came to Emmett Till’s uncle’s house, where the young boy was staying for a few weeks that summer. They took Emmet Till from the house, beat him, shot him, and dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River, after securing a fan from a cotton gin to his neck with barbed wire.
The murder of Emmett Till caught the imagination of news outlets as he was a Chicago boy, only in Mississippi for a few weeks that summer to visit relatives. His body was found three days after he was killed, floating in the Tallahatchie River. He was so disfigured from the beating and the river that they were going to bury him in Mississippi. His mother protested however, that she wanted her child back in Chicago. When her son was returned and she saw the horrific state of his body, she decided to have an open casket at the funeral home and at the church. She wanted the world to see what these men in Mississippi did to her son. She said, “I think everyone needed to know what happened to Emmett Till.” Fifty thousand people streamed passed his casket at the funeral home and church.
The images of the mutilated body of 14 year-old Emmett Till went all over the country in newspapers. Many have said it ws the death of this young boy that actually started the civil rights movement.
It’s interesting to see this infamous store, where this sad episode may have begun, literally going back to dust. The awnings are rotted and falling away. The bricks are crumbling into nothing.