Teens Cover Defaced Emmett Till Marker with Hopeful Messages


When members of a nonprofit youth group visited Money, Miss., recently, they were devastated to discover the vandalized historical marker of Emmett Till.

But instead of remaining upset, they decided to do something about it.

“To restore the vandalism that took place at the Emmett Till marker at the [former] Bryant’s Grocery store, me and my peers drew things and wrote inspirational quotes that we thought would be valuable,” says one member of the St. Louis organization Cultural Leadership in a Monday, June 26, video of their actions.

The students traveled by bus to visit the location where a white shopkeeper named Carolyn Bryant accused Till of making verbal and physical advances toward her in August 1955. Shortly after the allegation was made, Bryant’s husband and a relative tortured and beat Till before tossing him into the Tallahatchie River.

As members of an organization dedicated to helping middle- and high-school students become the next generation of civil rights leaders, the students covered Till’s marker with empowering messages and drawings of the 14-year-old.

“It’s not who killed him … it’s what killed him,” read one memo.

Another noted that Bryant admitted later in life that she lied about her encounter with Till and a different message said, “Emmett Till’s death brought unity and courage.”

This is not the first time Till’s marker has been defaced. In 2016, the sign next to the Tallahatchie River was riddled with bullet holes and two other Till signs also had been vandalized before then.

KMOV reported the marker in Money will be removed this week for repairs.

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