After more than sixty years, the U.S. Justice Department is again investigating the Emmett Till Case.
Family members are still grieving the 1955 night 14-year-old Emmett Till was murdered in Money, Mississippi while visiting from Chicago.
The defendants, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, were found not guilty by an all-white jury. Both men later admitted to the crimes in a magazine article.
This week, a recent report to congress came to light that the U.S. Justice Department is reopening the Till case.
Carolyn Bryant, then wife of Roy, originally testified that Till had approached her in a vulgar manner, which angered her husband. She retracted that testimony in a 2017 book by Timothy B. Tyson.
Till’s mother and family stayed dedicated to the case. Till’s cousin, Wheeler Parker, was there the night Till was kidnapped from his Delta relatives’ home, and has traveled around the country since, talking about his cousin’s legacy.
“His mama said, “I hope you didn’t die in vain,” Parker said. “He lives because we’re here today. Now his name is all over. We constantly talk about him, laws have been passed [and] streets have been named. I get to tell a story, but I’d like to see his name completely exonerated.”
Wheeler spoke on a panel in Tutwiler, in the same Delta courthouse where the suspects were found not guilty. He said speaking to others serves a greater purpose.
“When you come here, because you feel like you’re helping someone [and] giving them some tools that they can go back and use at their schools or even in their home life, their churches, wherever they go,” he said. “We’re here to serve, so I feel like I’m serving today.”
Patrick Weems is with the Emmett Till Interpretive Center right across the street from the courthouse.
“In some of the cold cases in Mississippi, we’ve had justice,” Weems said. “In Mississippi Burning case with the three civil rights workers, we’ve eventually had justice. In Medgar Evers’ case, we’ve eventually had justice. There has never been somebody who has been brought to justice in the Till case.”
Carolyn Bryant is still living. Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam are both deceased.
The Justice Department said they have no comment.