Exhuming Emmett Till

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Authorities will exhume the body of Emmett Till to see if they can find new clues to his murder 50 years ago. Prosecutors hope an autopsy will turn up clues that could lead to a conviction in the case. Till, a 14-year-old black youth, was lynched in Mississippi after whistling at a white woman.


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Linda Wertheimer.

Authorities announced this week that they would exhume the body of Emmett Till, nearly 50 years after he was murdered. Greenville, Mississippi, attorney Joyce Chiles is hoping that an autopsy will finally lead to a conviction in the case. In 1955, Emmett Till, a black teen-ager from Chicago, was visiting family in Money, Mississippi. He reportedly whistled at a white woman and died for it. Till was lynched. His body was taken to Chicago for burial. An autopsy was never performed. Photographs of his young face, beaten nearly unrecognizable, shocked the entire nation and galvanized a movement for civil rights.

The husband of the woman and another man were acquitted of murder by an all-white jury. They and other associates maintain it was not Emmett Till in that coffin, but a substitute. New evidence reportedly may link several people who are still living to the crime, but some relatives of Emmett Till are opposed to the exhumation. Said one distant cousin, `They don't need his body or remains in order to pursue them if they have solid proof that other people were involved.' The body will be exhumed in the next few weeks.

Coming up, a new opera, libretto by Toni Morrison, about a fugitive slave.

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