MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Department of Justice is reopening the investigation into the death of Emmett Till, a black teenager whose death helped inspire the Civil Rights movement.
Till, from Chicago, was visiting relatives in Mississippi when he was accused of whistling at a white woman in a store. The 14-year-old boy was kidnapped, tortured and killed.
Two men were charged with murder in connection to Till’s death, but were acquitted. They later admitted to a magazine they had killed Till.
Till’s brutal murder is still a sore on the soul of our country and remains one of the most searing examples of racial violence in the south.
WCCO’s Reg Chapman spoke with a relative of Till’s who is still fighting for justice in the case that still captures the attention of Americans 63 years later.
Family members say they are standing on the shoulders of Till’s mother Mammie Till-Mobley. She always wanted her son’s name and what happened to him to never be forgotten.
The family hopes, with a revived probe into his murder, justice could soon prevail.
“We’re talking 63 years of hoping that there would be justice for Emmett,” Deborah Watts said.
Deborah Watts, cousin of Emmett Till, says all the family has ever wanted was justice and hope for a better tomorrow.
The Department of Justice said it reopened the case based on the discovery of new information. The DOJ would not say what that information is and no new charges in connection with the investigation have been filed.
“I truly think that if this case gets solved and justice prevails that our country, that America, has an opportunity to heal. And we want to be at the forefront of that movement as well,” Watts said.
Watts believes another look at Till’s case could be huge when it comes to our country confronting its past.
“With Emmett’s murder taking place 63 years ago, this is an opportunity for us to do it right, for the justice department to do the right thing, and for the country to see justice prevail,” Watts said.
The Justice Department last reviewed the Till case in 2004. Prosecutors determined that that statute of limitations stopped them from pursuing charges in federal court.
The family hopes this time things will be different.
The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation was founded in Stone Mountain, Georgia and operates out of Minneapolis, where Watts lives.