The Beginning of the Civil Rights Movement
1955, a young boy with fourteen years of age was beaten and murdered for mild flirtation to a white woman. He was called Emmett Till, but his mother was the one who started the American civil rights movement, the one who devoted her life to seeking justice for the black people of America, and, unforgotten, her son. She was Mamie Till-Mobley.
Life's a Tough Ride
Mamie Till-Mobley grew up being the only child of her divorced and remarried parents. Her mother raised her with high discipline and expectancy, making her the first black student to make it to the A Honor roll and the fourth black student to graduate from the predominately white Argo Community High School, while girls of her age already backed out of school to get married.
But her life was completely transformed about twenty years later, when her first son, Emmett, was fished out of the Tallahatchie river. He was unrecognizable when discovered, with a side of his forehead crushed, a bullet in his skull, and an eye gouged out, but Mamie knew who this disfigured corpse belonged to--it was wearing Emmett’s ring.
Instead of her life being destroyed, the absolute horrible sight of her own son’s body only gave her determination. She gave Emmett an open casket funeral with a fifty-thousand people audience, leaving people weeping, just as she was. "I think everybody needed to know what had happened to Emmett Till," Mamie said.
The two killers of her son, J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, were acquitted of murder, regardless of what they did to Emmett Till. The Till case was a major event on the news and papers at the time, and even when they should be punished, at least, for kidnapping, Mamie’s husband’s bad records freed the two men.
Without aid from the federal government, and only returning with the President and FBI Director’s refusal, Mamie concluded to take the fight to the people. Speeches were being made all over the United States, protest letters were flooding into the White House, and the hearts of the people were slowly moving. The civil rights movement was rising as members started moving their fight to the front lines, refusing to give up a bus seat to a white passenger, calling for a city-wide bus boycott, and so on.
The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation
Until her death in 2003, she had been directing the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation (ETLF), providing a positive, inspired and empowered future for the youth in America and across the world. The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation brings the solutions for severed lives and denials of justice and believes that the next generation deserves to reach their fullest potential.
"When I began to make the announcement that Emmett had been found and how he was found, the whole house began to scream and to cry. And that's when I realized that this was a load that I was going to have to carry. I wouldn't get any help carrying this load."