Tallahatchie

Hale, Johnnie: Oral History

Johnnie Hale grew up in Sumner, Mississippi. He remembers Emmett Till’s murder and the boy’s mother’s request for an open-casket. Hale later moved to Detroit, Michigan, where race relations were not much better than they had been in Sumner. He had trouble finding a job and witnessed the infamous race riots. He believes it is […]

Emmett Till Memorial Commission

On August 28, 1955, 14-year old Emmett Till was kidnapped in the middle of the night from his uncle’s home near Money, Mississippi, by at least two men, one from LeFlore and one from Tallahatchie County, Mississippi. Till, a black youth from Chicago visiting family in Mississippi, was later murdered, and his body thrown into […]

Willis, Larry: Oral History

A Delta native, Larry Willis talks about his involvement with the civil rights movement and the Emmett Till murder. He explains the happenings associated with the trial such as how people would react when someone black would try to share an opinion or attend the trial. Willis also talks about his opinions on the reopening […]

Sumner Courthouse

On September 23, 1955, two white men, Roy Bryant and JW Milam, were acquitted at the Sumner Courthouse of murdering 14-year-old Emmett Till. Till’s mother Mamie Till and uncle Moses Wright courageously testified in the 5-day trial, which drew international attention. The most dramatic moment came when Moses Wright was asked who abducted Emmett, and […]

Pearson, Betty: Oral History

Betty Pearson discusses growing up in Clarksdale, MS. She describes the impact her family had on her attitude towards race relations, an early experience that impacted her worldview, and growing up in a segregated society. She also talks about being present at the Emmett Till trial and being around Neshoba County during the Philadelphia murders. […]

Delta Inn

The Delta Inn was built circa 1920 in Sumner as a railroad and residence hotel by Mr. Zachariah Edward Jennings. The jury in the Bryant/ Milam trial for the racially motivated murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till stayed here in September 1955. During the trial, the KKK burned a cross in front of the Inn. Sources: […]

Tutwiler Funeral Home

On August 31, 1955, Woodrow Jackson prepared Emmett Till’s body here at the Tutwiler Funeral Home to return to Emmett’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, in Chicago. Emmett’s uncle, Crosby Smith, had to sign a document promising not to open the casket. Once the body reached Chicago, Mamie Till-Mobley defied that order, promising to show the world […]

Till, Emmett

Emmett Louis Till (July 25, 1941 – August 28, 1955) was an African-American teenager from Chicago, Illinois, who was brutally lynched near the small town of Drew in Sunflower County, Mississippi. His murder was one of the key events that led to the birth of the civil rights movement. In the summer of 1955, he […]

Glendora Gin

An old metal fan used for ginning cotton was taken from this gin, the Glendora Gin Company, by Roy Bryant and JW Milam. After shooting 14-year-old Emmett Till in the head, the men attached the fan, weighing about 70 pounds, to Till’s mutilated corpse with barbed wire before dumping him adjacent to the Tallahatchie River. […]

Milam’s House

This site was the home of JW Milam, who with his half-brother, Roy Bryant, murdered 14-yearold Emmett Till on August 28, 1955. The men had been acquitted for the murder 4 months before confessing to journalist William Bradford Huie, during which Milam claimed he and his brother initially beat Till in the barn behind the […]

Melton, Clinton

The September 1955 acquittal of JW Milam and Roy Bryant for the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till fueled further racial violence. Clinton Melton was a proud black man who was gunned down here 2 1/2 months later by Milam’s friend Elmer Kimbel, allegedly over a dispute about filling up a gas tank. On the day […]

Little, Jerome G.: Oral History:

JEROME G. LITTLE was born in 1952 in Sumner, Mississippi. After serving in the Marine Corps from 1974 to 1977, he pushed for water rights for his family and community members of the Goose Pond subdivision in Webb. Mr. Little was a part of the “Magnificent Seven,” a group of black men who had to […]

River Site

On August 31, 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till’s body was found 2.3 miles to the southeast of the marker. A fisherman discovered the body in the Tallahatchie River, where it had been dumped, presumably as a warning to the black community. A cotton gin fan had been tied around Till’s neck with barbed wire. Till’s uncle, […]

Martin, Doroth M.

DOROTHY M. MARTIN was born in Tallahatchie County on June 24, 1952. She attended Northwest Mississippi Junior College and graduated from Delta State University. She served as a deputy clerk in the county tax assessor’s office from January 1976 until October 1997. Mrs. Martin was elected Tallahatchie County Tax Assessor and Collector in November 1997 […]

Thomas, Johnny B.

JOHNNY B. THOMAS, born on November 30, 1953, is a native of Glendora and is currently the town’s mayor. He attended Mississippi Valley State University and, in the 1970s, became a political and civil rights activist. He has the distinction of being elected Tallahatchie County’s first African American County Supervisor, first African American Constable (1975), […]

Money Store

Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market, owned by 21-year-old Carolyn and 24-year-old Roy Bryant, was housed here and primarily served sharecroppers in the area. On August 24, 1955, 14-year-old Emmett Till came to the store with friends to buy refreshments. While there, Till whistled at Carolyn Bryant. This act violated the white Southern taboo that prevented […]

Williams, Roosevelt

ROOSEVELT WILLIAMS was the first African American elected to the Tallahatchie County School Board of Trustee. He was elected in 1971 and served until 1991. Sources: http://www.etmctallahatchie.com/documents/drivingtour.pdf

Wilchie, John

JOHN WILCHIE was born in Glendora, Mississippi. In 1979 he was appointed to carry out the remaining term of Justice Court Judge, and the following year he was elected the first African American Justice Court Judge in Tallahatchie County. He attended Mississippi Valley State University, as well as the University of Mississippi Judicial College. In […]

Wiggins, Neomia “Sis” Lakes

NEOMIA “SIS”LAKES WIGGINS was born on September 28, 1917, near Charleston,Mississippi. She was the first African American person to register to vote in West Tallahatchie County, a move that required the police to escort her and guard her house. She worked at Sumner Elementary School, Delta Burial Corporation, Breland and Whitten Law Firm, and Head […]

Huddleston, Robert E.

ROBERT E. HUDDLESTON serves in the Mississippi House of Representatives on behalf of the 30th House District. He was elected to the Tallahatchie School Board in 1980 and served for ten years. In 1995, he was elected to the House of Representatives, where he serves as Vice Chairman of the Executive Contingent Fund committee. He […]

Jackson, Woodrow “Champ”: Oral History

WOODROW “CHAMP”JACKSON was born February 10, 1921 in Tchula, Mississippi. He is recognized for preparing the body of Emmett Till for return to his mother in Chicago in 1955. After serving in World War II, he moved to Tutwiler in 1948 and was employed at the Tutwiler Funeral Home and the Tutwiler Furniture Store. He […]

Grayson, Robert L.: Oral History

ROBERT L. GRAYSON, of Tutwiler, was born on May 10, 1941. He became the first African American mayor of Tutwiler in 1993. He is a veteran of the war in Vietnam, for which he received the Purple Heart, among other awards. He worked for the Mississippi Department of Corrections for thirty years and dedicated his […]

Gort Jr., Solomon

SOLOMON GORT, JR., (1936-1989), was born in Bolivar County, Mississippi. He had a distinguished career of service, which took him throughout the South, as well as to California, Illinois, New York, and Washington DC. Mr. Gort’s work reflected his commitment to Christian ministry, as well as public policy, including consulting for the USDA, Head Start, […]

Dixon, Ernestine

She was born October 21, 1957, in Glendora, MS, and received an AA in Business Administration from Coahoma Community College. From 2001 to 2005 she served as the first female African American mayor of Webb, MS. She now works as a Medical Assistant.

Banks, Bobby

He was born September 21, 1952, in Grenada County, Mississippi. After graduating from high school, he took a job with Tallahatchie County, learning all he could about county work. In 1994, he was elected Supervisor of District 4, when he and Jerome Little became the first African-American supervisors to serve in Tallahatchie County. He continues […]

Peacock, Willie B. Wazir

Willie B. Wazir Peacock was born in Charleston, Talahatchie County, MS. Wazir attended Rust College in 1960. While at Rust College Peacock began participating in sit-ins and boycotts. After College, Wazir went to work with Bob Moses, Amzie Moore and Lawrence Guyot in Sunflower County. There he worked to organize the Voter Education Project for […]

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