From "The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi" to the "Death of Innocence"


In Her Own Words...Mamie Till Mobley's Reaction to the Look Article Published on Jan. 24 1956

The name Emmett Till yet resonates as his spirit is linked to the countless number of victims murdered as a result of racial hatred 59 years after his lynching in 1955. After enduring the kidnapping & identification of her only child’s mutilated remains, funeral, threats on her life, and one of the most racial trials in the history of the United States... Mamie Till Mobley was presented with an article to read.

 

In the January 24, 1956, issue of Look magazine, William Bradford Huie, a white Alabama writer reportedly paid $4,000 to interview J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant for their confession of how they murdered Emmett Till in an article titled “The Shocking Story of Approved Killing in Mississippi.” The interview was conducted by the attorneys who defended Bryant and Milam. In her book Death of Innocence, Mamie Till Mobley reacts to the article saying: 

 

“The tale that unfolded in Look was horrible.  In fact, it was unbearable. And that was not just because of the description

the killers gave of that night of terror, but also because of the distorted picture of Emmett that was presented.

 

The portrayal of Emmett in this story was just awful and seemed to rely not only on what Carolyn Bryant had said in court

but also on what people had been spreading around Money a couple of months after the fact. But stories in the Delta pop

up as fast as the cotton in late summer, another cash crop.

 

The money must have been a great temptation for Bryant and Milam. But they also seemed to have a strategy in mind.

They must have known after their acquittal that there was some support among other white racists in the Delta for what

they had done and some lingering questions in the minds of others. In painting the picture of Emmett as an arrogant and

defiant black boy from Chicago, they finally were doing something that they could have never done in court: They were

telling a version of events that could not be challenged under oath, and appeared to go unchallenged by the journalist taking

it all down. They obviously wanted to show that they had justification for doing what they boasted about doing to Emmett.

 

How sad. After all the relentless reporting that had been done by black writers like Jimmy Hicks, L. Alex Wilson, and Simeon

Booker; all the courageous undercover work that had been done by NAACP people like Medgar Evers, Ruby Hurley, Amzie

Moore, Aaron Henry, and others; after the persistent efforts of Dr. Howard in coaxing testimony out of eyewitnesses,

paying for their relocation to Chicago; after all that work to uncover the truth of what happened to my son, the story people

would often cite over the years was the one Look  published.”

 

          “The tale that unfolded in Look was horrible.  In fact, it was unbearable.        

           And that was not just because of the description the killers gave of that

           night of terror, but also because of the distorted picture of Emmett that

           was presented.     

 

The portrayal of Emmett in this story was just awful and seemed to rely not only on what Carolyn Bryant had said in court but also on what people had been spreading around Money a couple of months after the fact. But stories in the Delta popup as fast as the cotton in late summer, another cash crop.

 

The money must have been a great temptation for Bryant and Milam. But they also seemed to have a strategy in mind. They must have known after their acquittal that there was some support among other white racists in the Delta for what they had done and some lingering questions in the minds of others. In painting the picture of Emmett as an arrogant and defiant black boy from Chicago, they finally were doing something that they could have never done in court: They were telling a version of events that could not be challenged under oath, and appeared to go unchallenged by the journalist taking it all down. They obviously wanted to show that they had justification for doing what they boasted about doing to Emmett.

 

How sad. After all the relentless reporting that had been done by black writers like Jimmy Hicks, L. Alex Wilson, and Simeon Booker; all the courageous undercover work that had been done by NAACP people like Medgar Evers, Ruby Hurley, Amzie Moore, Aaron Henry, and others; after the persistent efforts of Dr. Howard in coaxing testimony out of eyewitnesses,paying for their relocation to Chicago; after all that work to uncover the truth of what happened to my son, the story people would often cite over the years was the one

Look  published.” 

 

Mamie Till Mobley

 

J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant pictured with wives Juanita and Carolyn.