The Emmett Till Memorial Commission of Tallahatchie County will rededicate its Emmett Till historical marker Saturday.
The marker is the fourth erected since the first was installed in 2008 where Till’s body was found on the banks of the Tallahatchie River. The murder in 1955 is considered to have been a major catalyst of the civil rights movement.
The first sign was thrown in the river. A second was shot so many times with bullets or pellets that it was replaced. The third was riddled with 20 bullet holes and was vandalized earlier this year. Three male college students, then enrolled at The University of Mississippi, holding weapons appeared next to the disfigured sign on Facebook and Instagram and were investigated in connection with the crime.
Those attending the sign’s rededication will meet at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Tallahatchie County Courthouse in Sumner and drive by caravan to the marker’s riverside location for an 11:45 a.m. ceremony. A reception will be held at the Sumner Grille at 1 p.m. The rededication is co-sponsored by the Mississippi Center for Justice.
Patrick Weems, director of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center in Sumner, said he’s hoping for a positive outcome. “We are cautiously optimistic,” he explained.
“We understand that racial reconciliation begins by telling the truth,” Weems said. “Our historical markers allow a first step toward that truth-telling process. Sadly, there are still those who want to deny the events of 1955. We cannot change the past, but we have a responsibility to tell our stories together so we can move forward together with a shared future.”
Among the members of the Till family in attendance will be the Rev. Wheeler Parker, a Church of God in Christ pastor from Chicago, who is Till’s “last living cousin, who rode on the train with Emmett Till down from Chicago,” Weems said. Till was visiting Money when he was accused of whistling at a white woman. This led to his death.
Community organizations and The University of Mississippi collaborated to host film screenings and panel discussions Thursday and Friday on campus, in part to encourage students to attend the rededication, Weems said.