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Where Two Murderers of Emmett Till ‘Spent the Night’
Back in August of 1955, two of the men who brutally murdered a young Chicagoan Emmett Till visited the home of a Delta family in nearby Rulesville soon after.
Now a resident of Drew in Sunflower County less than five miles from the plantation where Till was killed, an elderly woman who asks to remain anonymous remembers that summer night in her seventeenth year when her parents let JW Milam and Roy Bryant into their home. . Bryant was her mother’s relative by marriage; both were loud and nervous, she recalled.
Recently, Ms. “Brown” stopped by to visit a black restaurant owner in Drew, telling him she felt it was important to share her story with him and others in the black community.
“The time is finally right,” she told the restaurant.
“My parents didn’t tell me what happened at the time. JW had a full brother, Bud, and I’m pretty sure he was with them too. I was in bed but I could hear their voices.”
It was years later that her father admitted to the Drew woman that Milam and Bryant had told him what they had done to Emmett Till.
“They knew the law was after them. They also said Carolyn Bryant was with them when they killed Emmett Till. I don’t know when Bud joined them. I think they caught up with him later. He was a nicer person than his brother and I don’t think he would have killed anyone – I hope not.”
When she woke up at sunrise that same morning, all three men had left her family at home. “I never knew what happened to them after they left our house. I think they knew the law was going to catch up with them. And I think they felt safe because most of the officers covered them anyway .I don’t know. I don’t know if they turned themselves in, let themselves be found or if they were picked up by the sheriff and charged.
“I still can’t believe how they put our family in such danger; there was so much turmoil after Emmett Till was killed. People in Drew – black and white – threatened to kill each other’s whole families. Some threatened to kill as many as ten members from another person’s family as repayment.”
Even though her parents hid Emmett Till’s killers and never turned them in, the Drew woman denies their involvement.
“I know my parents would never cover for them. The men came to our house and sat there all night. Later my parents told me what was going on. But I would never want anyone to think that our family helped them. “
Mrs. Brown believes that “most white people in Drew and Ruleville felt the same way.”
“After the trial, the only support Milam and Bryant got came from the Klan because they were members. Most people didn’t want anything to do with them; they did kill a 14-year-old kid. Maybe. they didn’t mean to do it, but they killed him.”
On August 24, 1955, fourteen-year-old Till whistled at a white woman in a grocery store in Money, Mississippi, a small cotton town in the Delta. Emmett Till, a teenager from Chicago, did not realize that he had broken the unwritten laws of the Jim Crow South until three days later, when two white men dragged him from his bed in the middle of the night, beat him brutally and then shot him. him in the head.
Although Till’s killers were arrested and charged with murder, they were both quickly acquitted by an all-white, all-male jury. Shortly thereafter, the defendants sold their story, including a detailed account of how they murdered Till, to a journalist.
The murder and the trial horrified the nation and the world and Till’s death was a spark that helped mobilize the civil rights movement. Three months after his body was pulled from the Tallahatchie River, the Montgomery bus boycott began after Rosa Parks refused to sit in the back of a city bus. Parks would later tell the young man’s mother how she was influenced by Till’s murder to take her personal stand.
The failure of the federal government to get involved in the Till case made blacks and whites realize that if change was going to come, they would have to make it themselves. Some historians describe the murder of young Emmett Till as the real spark that ignited extensive support for the movement.
 A story appearing September 3, 1955, in the Jackson Advocate suggested that three white men were, in fact, involved in the kidnapping, marking “the first suggestion that more individuals were involved in the kidnapping than either Milam or Bryant let on,” according to Christopher Metress, editor of a comprehensive book on the Emmett Till incident.
2] Interview by Susan Klopfer on March 4, 2005, with a Sunflower County resident who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. “Just a few years ago, our minister and his family were threatened when the minister tried to talk about church integration. They were almost exhausted.” Bud was probably with the group, as she suggested. The version of Dr. TRM Howard’s kidnapping and murder appeared in a small pamphlet in February 1956, Time Bomb: Mississippi Exposed and the Full Story of Emmett Till. The author was Olive Arnold Adams, the wife of Julius J. Adams, the publisher of the New York Age, but Howard was her primary source. He also wrote the forward.” In addition to Time Bomb, a series of articles appeared in the California Eagle, a black newspaper in Los Angeles. “The author was a mysterious white Southern reporter who wrote under the pseudonym of Amos Dixon. Dixon presented essentially the same thesis as Time Bomb but offered a more detailed description of the possible roles of Loggins, Hubbard, and Collins. He also claimed that another brother of Milam and Bryant, Leslie Milam (now dead) participated in the crime,” wrote David T. Beito and Linda Royster Beito (“Why It’s Unlikely the Emmett Till Murder Mystery Will Ever Be Solved”, History) . News Network, 4/26/04).
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