By Alexandra Gill
63 years later, Deborah Watts believes that the Justice Department’s decision to resume the investigation into Emmett Till’s lynching will bring long-awaited justice to her family. In 1995, Deborah Watts was a toddler, and her cousin Emmett Till was kidnapped in Mississippi, savagely beaten, and murdered after a white woman accused him of whistling and making sexual advances toward her. After Till’s murder, the determination was made to hold an open casket funeral, displaying the unmerciful violence of white supremacy to the rest of the world. Till’s death became a significant part of the Civil Rights Movement once the two white men were clear from his murder.
July 12, 2018, the Associated Press announced that the Justice Department has informed Congress that it has reopened the investigation, indicating new information. Deborah Watts, a co-founder, and Executive Director of the Emmett Till Legacy Foundation hopes to have Carolyn Bryant share her story openly or to even have the conversation with her and her family, and respectively to share the truth with the authorities. Followers of Till’s murder have remembered for years that the two men accused of the murder confessed in a Look Magazine interview. Till’s murderers made it clear as to why they killed him because it’s to keep black people in a state of terror, but they’re both now dead. Bryant created an unfortunate outcome for the young black male from Chicago once she revealed that her allegations were false.
The traumatic event has overwhelmed Chicagoans and citizens within the United States. There are family and friends that are activist, supporters, and protestors who remain hopeful to come to a fair resolution after so many years. According to the African American memoir, many young men, and women before Till’s murder were taken, beaten, and killed due to the ruthless attitudes of white Americans. “The purpose of Till’s mother to hold an open casket was a wake-up call to what hate looks like in our country”, says Deborah Watts.
Congressman Bennie Thompson wrote in a letter in February asking Assistant Attorney General Thomas Wheller to reconsider the case. Thompson recorded, “this false statement holds liability for the death of Emmett Louise Till and affords the Department of Justice the opportunity to bring some justice to an innocent 14-year old boy.” Although, this wouldn’t be an easy task.
In 2004, Till’s murder case was reexamined, but the grand jury declined to indict due to the number of limitations. “We caution, that even with our best efforts, investigations into historic cases are exceptionally difficult, and there may be insurmountable legal and evidentiary barriers to bringing federal charges against any remaining living persons,” Wheller wrote.
The family of Emmett Till persists in hope and faith to hear the correct verdict on the murder case. This case has changed small efforts in the Justice Department to move forward not only with this investigation but with any other crimes that have remained unsolved from the civil rights era. Acknowledging President Obama for his nobility to sign the Emmett Till Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization Act of 2016 is appropriate.