Students Honor Emmett Till by Posting Tributes on Vandalized Mississippi Sign

By Sameer Rao Jun 27, 2017

A multiracial group of students from St. Louis offered a tribute to the legacy of Emmett Till by posting handwritten messages and portraits on a recently vandalized historical marker honoring him in Money, Mississippi.

St. Louis nonprofit organization Cultural Leadership, which provides social justice leadership training for Black and Jewish high schoolers, took students to visit the historical marker on Sunday (June 25). Cultural Leadership executive director Holly Ingraham told Colorlines that the students visited Money as part of a cross-country trip to sites of activist history.

When they arrived at Bryant’s Grocery—the store where Till first encountered Carolyn Bryant, whose husband Roy joined with his half-brother J.W. Milam to lynch Till over the White woman’s false claim that the Black teenager whistled at her—they found that someone had scratched away most of the sign’s text and images.

The student group responed by replacing the vandalism with their own messages. One image features a raised fist and the text, "Our fight for freedom, justice and equality continues." Another reads, "You can kill a boy. You can destroy a marker. But you can’t get rid of the idea of freedom."

The Clarion-Ledger reports that the sign, erected in 2011 as part of the Mississippi Freedom Trail, will be replaced. Law enforcement agencies have not yet arrested anyone for the crime.

This is not the first Till-related marker that has been destroyed. Last October, vandals shot bullets through a sign marking the spot in the Tallahatchie River where two boys discovered Till’s body in 1955.