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How Emmett Till’s Death Ignited The Civil Rights Movement, Cousins Reflect on His Life

On the Sept. 28 edition of “CBS This Morning,” Emmett Till’s cousins talk about the last moments of the teen’s life before he met his tragic end.

In 1955, 14-year-old Emmett was lynched for whistling in the direction of a white woman while he shopped in a Mississippi general store with his cousins. In the Wednesday interview, his cousin Simeon Wright tells reporters that he said nothing out of the way to the woman on that August day.

“I tell people [Emmett whistled because] I think he wanted us to laugh.”

Commentators posit that Emmett’s death made Americans fully aware of the injustices happening to Black people. For instance, Georgetown professor Michael Eric Dyson believes he galvanized civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. “This one image conjured the pain, the acrimony of lynching,” Dyson says. ” It showed Americans this is what you do to us and this is evil.”

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