Emmett Till Interpretive Center

The Emmett Till Interpretive Center’s museum in Sumner has been closed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to continue engaging with people, the center has released an interview series featuring Delta residents’ thoughts on living through the pandemic.

The Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Sumner has had to find another way to engage with people after it was forced to close its museum and cancel tours of the Sumner Courthouse due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We figured one way to do that would be through social media and digital platforms. We were able to use that pivot to create these series of ministories,” Benjamin Saulsberry, the center’s museum director, said.

The series of videos, called, “Surviving and Thriving: COVID-19 in the Mississippi Delta,” features interviews with Delta residents who share their thoughts about living through a pandemic.

The six episodes produced so far include interviews with Saulsberry as well as with Patrick Weems, the executive director of the center.

Also interviewed are two Greenwood residents, Dash Brown, a videographer, and Desmond Smith, a Greenwood Leflore Hospital worker and part-time executive assistant for the WGNL/WGNG radio stations.

The mission of the center, which opened up in 2015, is to build racial reconciliation by teaching the story of Emmett Till. He was a Black Chicago youth who, while visiting relatives in Money in 1955, was kidnapped, tortured and killed after whisting at a white female shopkeeper.

The center had been giving personal tours and holding group discussions at its museum as well as giving tours at the Sumner Courthouse, where the trial of Emmett Till’s murderers took place.

After the pandemic began, the center closed its museum and suspended in-person tours of the Sumner Courthouse. Saulsberry said the center still encourages people to take self-guided Emmett Till tours by using the Emmett Till Memory Project smartphone app, which the center helped develop.

Although the center remains closed, Saulsberry said there are other digital projects in the works that may come out next year. These may include a series in which Saulsberry or another staff member of the center discuss the topic of racial reconciliation or even a podcast, though the topic of a possible podcast has yet to be determined.

“Surviving and Thriving” may be viewed at www.emmett-till.org/covid-in-the-delta or on the Emmett Till Interpretive Center’s Facebook page.

• Contact Gerard Edic at 581-7239 or gedic@gwcommonwealth.com.

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