Markers placed to honor the life of slain Black teen Emmett Till have been vandalized twice in less than year’s time. The most recent incident found that panels explaining the details of the 14-year-old’s short life and tragic end were defaced, adding to a series of such acts over the years.
The Mississippi Freedom Trail is comprised of markers in the state as it relates to the civil rights struggles of the 20th Century. Till’s markers have been especially targeted by vandals according to reports. A display panel was ripped apart, making the sign essentially unreadable.
Allan Hammons, whose public relations firm made the marker, said Monday that someone scratched the marker with a blunt tool in May. During the past week, a tour group discovered vinyl panels had been peeled off the back of the metal marker in Money, Mississippi. The panels contained photos and words about Till.
“Who knows what motivates people to do this?” Hammons said, noting that traffic signs are common targets for vandals and shooters in rural areas. “Vandals have been around since the beginning of time.”
The sign was erected in 2011 for the Mississippi Freedom Trail, a series of state-funded markers at significant civil rights sites.
The sign sits just outside the shuttered Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market when a white woman, Carolyn Bryant, claimed Till whistled at her. Bryant’s husband and his brother were accused and later acquitted of torturing and murdering Till although they later confessed to the crime. Bryant herself stated later in life that the accusations were false.
Till’s murder and shocking open casket funeral helped spur the civil rights movement in the south.
Social activist youth group Cultural Leadership rallied together to help repair the damage made to the Till sign.
Photo: Fair Use