The Primate Diaries

Today in History: Emmett Till Murdered

An op-ed in today’s Los Angeles Times discusses the legacy of the murder that became a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement:

Fifty-four years ago today, Emmett Till, a 14-year-old Chicago boy visiting family in Mississippi, was abducted, mutilated and slain after he allegedly whistled at a white woman. Several days later, his horribly disfigured body was fished out of the Tallahatchie River. Many such tragedies had previously happened to black Americans and then been ignored.

At Till’s funeral his mother insisted that the boy’s coffin remain open so that mourners could witness the hatred of racism as it was inflicted on her child. I will not post the photo of his open coffin as it is profoundly disturbing. However, I urge you to take a look and fully understand the legacy of racism that we are still trying to overcome.


  1. #1 Justin Kietzman
    August 28, 2009

    As sad as this little boys death is, from the research I have been doing (I am a white male, and was attacked by three black males recently for no other reason than my skin color), today Black on white hate crimes are 50 times more likely to happen than the other way around.

    So how about you post a few of those?

    Or show me that my statistics are wrong.

  2. #2 Bob O'H
    August 28, 2009

    Could you cite the source of your statistics, Justin?

  3. #3 Avram
    August 31, 2009

    Didn’t Bob Dylan write a song about Emmet Till? And yes Justin, you need to references man! This is a Sience blog after all 🙂

  4. #4 Shelly
    September 1, 2009

    I didn’t know until reading your entry that photos of Till’s open casket were in full circulation on the internet. Curiosity got the better of me & I found the image online. Very horrific 🙁 It is really hard for me to understand how the mere difference of race could fuel a hatred so strong that led to the brutal murder of a 12 year-old boy for whistling at a white woman.

  5. #5 kermit
    September 4, 2009

    Here’s statistics which seem to support Justin’s claims:
    But do they say what he thinks they say?

    I note that in the US, whites outnumber blacks by nearly 9 to 1. The raw statistics of the paper referenced at this website simply says that white violent crime victims outnumber blacks by about …9 to 1.

    shows that black victims are disproportionately represented. Blacks do commit more violent crimes, but I’m going to guess that it’s more a reflection of income than ethnicity. Most of the criminals’ victims are their neighbors, who are also black. Most of the violent black criminals, as with white Americans, are a small core of sociopaths. There’s certainly no indication here that whites are being especially targeted.

  6. #6 Bursa haber
    September 5, 2009

    I didn’t know until reading your entry that photos of Till’s open casket were in full circulation on the internet.

  7. #7 Jazz
    December 1, 2009

    Just because black on white crimes (according to your research) are more likely to happen today doesn’t mean that it does. The key word was LIKELY. And I strongly believe that you provoked them. Like

    Also, I’m upset at how you were the first to comment on this post and made it about yourself Justin. Typical of someone like you.

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