Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The photo of Mamie Till Mobley mourning over her son’s open coffin was a catalyst for the civil rights movement. (Photo: Chicago Sun-Times, via Associated Press)

While 'Scar of Injustice' Lingers and Racist Violence Persists, DOJ Reopens 1955 Murder Case of Emmett Till

"Some have told us to move on, it's too late! Is it really too late for us to pursue justice?"

The case into the 1955 kidnapping, torture, and murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till—whose killing helped galvanize opposition to racism in the South and fueled the Civil Rights movement—has been reopened by the U.S. Justice Department, news outlets reported Wednesday.

"The scar of injustice is deep, but we are convinced that if we can get justice and make this right for Emmett, America can begin to heal." —Deborah Watts, Emmett Till Legacy Foundation According to the Associated Press:

The Justice Department told Congress in a report in March it is reinvestigating Till’s slaying in Money, Mississippi, in 1955 after receiving “new information.” The case was closed in 2007 with authorities saying the suspects were dead; a state grand jury didn’t file any new charges.

Deborah Watts, a cousin of Till, said she was unaware the case had been reopened until contacted by The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The federal report, sent annually to lawmakers under a law that bears Till’s name, does not indicate what the new information might be.

In an op-ed earlier this month, Till's cousin Deborah Watts, founder of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation, argued that holding those guilty of Emmett's murder—even after more than 60 years—is as essential and necessary as it ever was. Citing Timothy B. Tyson's recently-published book "The Blood of Emmett Till"—which the AP reporting speculates could be at least part of the reason the DOJ has reopened the case—Watts wrote, "Some have told us to move on, it's too late! Is it really too late for us to pursue justice?"

She concluded:

Who will now stand with us to make sure there is justice for Emmett? 

There are so many other deaths that have gone unsolved. The justice system needs to right the wrongs done and work for us and other African-Americans and their families. No family should ever have to endure this pain and injustice for this long.

We are committed to continue to tell Emmett's story and our stories, educate and empower our youth, preserve the legacy of Emmett and his mother, fight for justice, remind the nation to never forget, and ask everyone to join us in pledging never again! 

The scar of injustice is deep, but we are convinced that if we can get justice and make this right for Emmett, America can begin to heal. 

The clock is ticking. Will you join our call for justice now?


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.
We need your help.

Support progressive journalism.

Common Dreams is not your average news site. We don't survive on clicks or advertising dollars. We rely entirely on your support. And without it, our independent progressive journalism simply wouldn’t exist. Every gift of every amount matters.

Join the fight and support our common dreams today.

Sanders Says Congress Must Combat GOP Attacks on Voting Rights in 'Any and Every Way'

"What Republican legislatures and governors are doing in the most disgraceful way imaginable is to try to deny people of color, young people, poor people the right to vote."

Jake Johnson, staff writer ·

Advocates Cheer VA Move to Offer Trans Vets Gender Confirmation Surgery

"Every veteran deserves to have access to the health care that they need, and the VA is working to make sure that includes transgender veterans as well."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·

'Bolsonaro Out!': Massive Protests as Brazil's Covid-19 Death Toll Tops 500,000

"We are on the street to defend our country, our people, our lives, our culture, our education, our economy. We can no longer die of Covid."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·

Summit Participants Embrace 'Vaccine Internationalism' to End Pandemic

"Our goal is simple: to end the pandemic as quickly as possible by securing Covid-19 vaccines for all," says the coordinator of Progressive International's four-day virtual summit.

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·

As Iran Elects New President, Experts Urge Biden to Rejoin Nuclear Deal, Lift Sanctions

"The Biden administration must remain resolute and seek a break from the disastrous conditions that helped contribute to this result."

Brett Wilkins, staff writer ·