Tuesday, June 07, 2011
It was an astounding Mississippi event that almost slipped by ...
The first marker on the Mississippi Freedom Trail was unveiled just three weeks in the small village of Money. This was the site of the grocery store where young Emmett Till was said to have whistled at the store-owner's wife.
From there, we all know the story, by now --
Some 150 people attended the ceremony at the site of Bryant Grocery and Meat Market.
In 1955, Till, a black teenager visiting from Chicago, whistled at the store's proprietor, Carolyn Bryant, a white woman. Bryant's husband, Roy Bryant, and his half-brother, J.W. Milam, kidnapped and murdered Till. The two men were acquitted by an all-white jury in Tallahatchie County. They later confessed to the murder in an interview with the magazine "Look".
Till's death is credited by many as being the catalyst of the U.S. civil rights movement. Certainly, the trial of the two men who murdered Till (and the verdict of not guilty) helped Rosa Parks make her decision to sit at the front of the bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Yes, there had been others. But Parks was a visionary and she was the right person at the right time to make this act count.
Mississippi's tourism officials describe the trail as "a cultural initiative to educate a new generation about the violent civil rights struggle, and Mississippi's role in it."
Republican Gov. Haley Barbour said in a statement the trail "will be an outstanding educational attraction that will honor those from around the country who contributed to the civil rights movement here."
That's a positive statement from Barbour, who last year said he didn't "remember much" about the civil rights years as a youngster living in nearby Yazoo City.