Investigation could bring justice for Till

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

It is nearly 50 years since the murder of Emmett Till, who suffered an injustice that sparked a civil rights revolution.

It is just one year since the death of his mother, who never gave up hope that her son’s killers would serve time.

But it is still not too late for justice.

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On Monday, federal officials announced they are reopening the murder investigation of Emmett Till, a black Chicago teenager killed while on a trip to the tiny Mississippi town of Money.

This is what officials believed then and now: Young Till was killed after he allegedly whistled at a white woman. Her husband and his friend were charged with killing the boy, whose body was found three days later in the Tallahatchie River. The two men were acquitted but later admitted their guilt in a magazine article. They have since died.

But others still alive could be connected to the murder. The Justice Department’s new investigation could turn up new charges and finally bring justice for Emmett Till.

Till’s death was a watershed moment for a movement that had yet to gain its momentum. It happened about 100 days before Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus in Montgomery, Ala. Today, Till’s murder is the first event in a timeline engraved on a monument outside the Montgomery museum that commemorates the civil rights movement.

Authorities have a chance now, as they did with Medgar Evers’ murder and with Ben Chester White’s murder, to bring some justice to one of the first killings that really turned eyes toward the injustice in the segregated South. Perhaps then, for the Till family, will

&uot;justice roll down like water and righteousness like an ever flowing stream,&uot; as Martin Luther King’s words on that same Montgomery monument promise.