Emmett Till's Coffin Could Go To Mississippi Museum : The Two-Way His original casket was found rotting in a shed at the Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago.
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Emmett Till's Coffin Could Go To Mississippi Museum

Money, Miss.: The grocery store where Emmett Till supposedly whistled at a white woman. A local man has been trying to buy and preserve it. LunaWeb/Flickr hide caption

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LunaWeb/Flickr

Emmett Till's family reportedly wants to see his original coffin sent to Mississippi for restoration and possible display in the Emmett Till Museum. That coffin was recently found rotting in a shed behind the Burr Oak Cemetery in Chicago where workers are accused of desecrating 300 graves.

Till, an African-American teenager from Chicago, was brutally beaten and then shot while visiting relatives in the small Delta town of Money in 1955. He was 14, and his mother insisted on a public viewing of her son's body so that the world could see what had been done to him.

As the Jackson, Miss., Clarion-Ledger reports, preserving his legacy has been a struggle. The Emmett Till Justice Campaign says the family is asking for the casket to be sent South. The paper reports that Glendora Mayor Johnny Thomas says he has "told the Till family the casket would be welcome at the Emmett Till museum in his town." Another plan has the coffin going to a museum in Philadelphia, Miss., where three civil rights workers were killed in 1964.

My family drove through Money, Miss., this spring, and I'm here to testify that you could pass right through without ever realizing its place in history. There's not much there of any description, let alone a noticeable remembering of Till's death.

The Clarion-Ledger reports that a highway marker for him on a major Delta highway was torn down and had to be replaced, in a region that remains one of the nation's poorest.

But new efforts to remember Till are afoot. Tallahatchie County is working on an $8 million restoration of the courthouse where an all-white jury acquitted the two white defendants of murder. The refurbished building would double as a museum.

The Bryant Grocery and Meat Market, where Till's tragic story began, is in terrible condition. A white businessman in Greenwood, the nearest town of any size, has been trying to buy it so it can be recognized as "ground zero for the civil rights movement." Billy Walker says the owners are seeking six figures for the property. Walker, 62, says he's now considering rebuilding the store, with donated labor and materials. "It's our way of saying, 'We're sorry,' " he tells the Clarion-Ledger.