When: August 28, 1955

Where: Money, Mississippi, United States of America

Emmett Till was a fourteen year old African-American who, while on vacation from Chicago in Money, Mississippi, was accused of offending a white woman and was brutally lynched and thrown into the Tallahatchie River. His mother insisted on a public and open casket funeral so the world could see the results of American racism. In September of that year, Till’s murderers were acquitted and this injustice was seen as a catalyst for the next phase of the Civil Rights Movement.

Content – song lyrics:

“Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root
Black bodies swingin’ in the Southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin’ from the poplar trees

Pastoral scene of the gallant South
The bulgin’ eyes and the twisted mouth
Scent of magnolias sweet and fresh
Then the sudden smell of burnin’ flesh

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck
For the rain to gather
For the wind to suck
For the sun to rot
For the tree to drop
Here is a strange and bitter crop”

– Billie Holiday, Strange Fruit

Further Reading:

Anderson, Devery S. Emmett Till: The murder that shocked the world and propelled the civil rights movement. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2015.

Bailey, Amy Kate and Stewart E. Tolnay. Lynched: The Victims of Southern Mob Violence. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 2015.

Onwuachi-Willig, Angela. “From Emmett Till to Trayvon Partin: The Persistence of White Womanhood and the Preservation of White Manhood.” Du Bois Review 15, no. 2 (2018): 257-294.

Pollack, Harriet and Christopher Metress. Emmett Till in literary memory and imagination. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2008.

Silkey, Sarah L. Black Woman Reformer: Ida B. Wells, Lynching, and Transatlantic Activism. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2015.

Walker, Frank X. Turn me Loose the unghosting of Medgar Evers: poems. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2013.

100 Photos: Emmett Till.Time 100 Photos.