MONEY, Miss.–In August 1955 Emmett5 “Bobo” Till, traveled from Chicago to Mississippi to spend time with relatives. Accused of wolf whistling at a white woman in a country store in Money, Miss., Till was kidnapped, beaten, tortured and murdered by a group of white men in a shack, his body weighted with a cotton gin fan, and dumped in the Tallahatchie River. Two men were tried and acquitted in about an hour’s time.
On Sept. 17, his story will be told in an exhibit originating at the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, called “Let the World See”, so that Till’ story can be told around the country to people who may not have heard of the murder or its implications.
LISTEN: Jennifer Pace-Robinson talks about the Emmett Till exhibit
“The murder of my son has shown me that what happens to any of us anywhere in the world had better be the business of all of us,” said Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, who made certain the world saw what happened to her son by having his body on display in a glass coffin as he laid in repose in Chicago. Over 100,000 people saw in person and pictures were published all over the world.
“Looking at the way the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis has worked really hard to tell the really difficult story of children throughout history who have greatly impacted our lives today,” said Jennifer Pace-Robinson, president and CEO of the Children’s Museum, “we wanted to approach from the understanding that it’s our job to stand up for the voices of children who have been through these circumstances.”
Pace-Robinson said that even though the murder was brutal, children will still be able to understand and appreciate what happened through the exhibit, and not be traumatized. It is recommended for ages 10 and up, with conversation from their adult caregiver or parents.
“Our goal is always to figure out a way to present difficult topics in a way that doesn’t immediately turn someone off or traumatize them,” she said. “We really look at how we can do it in a way that is less graphic and more really setting the stage for a conversation.”
The exhibit’s centerpiece is a sign that was placed to commemorate the place where Till’s body was dumped in the river. The sign was shot up and vandalized. It has since been replaced (several times-now with a bullet-proof sign and security cameras).
“The center of the experience is going to be a sound and light show on the sign. That sound and light show will give you glimpses of the river site in Mississippi, pictures of Emmett when he was a child, pictures of his mother and his cousins,” said Pace-Robinson. She said the exhibit will serve first to humanize Till, then tell the story of his murder.
She said people will also come away with some ideas about what they can do to tell others about the Till story and what they can do to keep more incidents like it from happening.
The Emmett Till Interpretive Center, the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley Institute and the Till family were also involved in the project, which will also travel to museums in Mississippi, Birmingham, Illinois and Georgia.