November 21, 2012

Cemetery Managers Have No Respect For The Dead, including Emmett Till

On a Summer day in 1955, 16 year old Emmett Tilll made the fatal mistake of whistling at a white woman named Carolyn Bryant, (some accounts say they also held a conversation) who was crossing the street. Several nights later on August 28, 1955 Carolyn Bryant's husband, Roy and his half-brother J. W. Milam, kidnapped Till from Till's great uncle's house in Mississippi, and proceeded to beat him, mutilate him, and finally shoot him. They later dumped his body in the Tallahatchie River, weighing the body down with a cotton gin fan.

His body was discovered three days later, and was shipped back to Chicago, Illinois, his home town. There his Mother, Mamie Carthan held a public funeral, and the body was displayed in a glass top casket. Mamie wanted everyone to know what they had done to her boy. Hundreds filed past the casket and more saw the photos in Jet Magazine. Emmett's murder became a powerful example of the hatred, and crime exhibited towards Black Americas during the Civil Rights movement. Rev. Jesse Jackson said, after finding out about the crime and with members of Till's family at the cemetery, "She said (Rosa Parks), 'I thought about Emmett Till and I couldn't go back."

Emmett's Decaying Casket
Maybe, in death he would finally find peace. Not so, I'm afraid. In 2005 Emmett's body was exhumed to go under DNA testing to display long time rumors that the body was not Tills who was buried in Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Ill. It turns out the body was in deed Tills. His body was then transferred to a new casket and re buried. The glass top casket was supposed to become a memorial to Till and displayed in a museum. 

However, in July of 2009 investigators were called to Burr Oak Cemetery to look into allegations that the cemetery owners were digging up plots, dumping the bodies, and reselling the plots. The investigators found the famous glass top casket, that 100,000 filed past in 1955, left to decay in the cemetery's shed, surround by garbage and now a home for possums.

Sheriff Tom Dart said the displacement of bodies "was not done in a very delicate way," and that remains were dumped haphazardly, littered with shards of coffins. For graves stacked on top of each other, Dart said it appears they "pounded the other one down and put someone on top."

The suspects in this gruesome crime were, Carolyn Towns, Keith Nicks, Terrence Nicks, and Maurice Dailey. They all have been charged with felonies, of dismembering a human body. By the way, they were all African Americans.

The glass top casket was place in police custody, pending the investigation, and they reported it will eventually be released back to the Till Family. Thankfully Emmett's grave doesn't seem to be disturbed.

"I once asked Mrs. Parks, 'Why didn't you move to the back of the bus?'" the Rev. Jesse Jackson said last week, standing with members of Till's family at the cemetery. "She said, 'I thought about Emmett Till and I couldn't go back.'"

Tills cousin, Wheeler Parker, who was a witness to Till kidnapping back in 1955, stated to the press after learning about the crimes committed in Burr Oak: "To me, it's just as bad as it was the night they took Emmett, Emmett's thing sounded like a nightmare and a dream, and this is the same thing."

See The News Story

A YouTube Video of Emmett's Story

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