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This week in history: Emmett Till comes home

On Sept. 3, 1955, thousands gathered at a Bronzeville funeral home to pay their respects to Emmett Till, a 14-year-old from Woodlawn who was murdered by white men in Mississippi.

Pallbearers carry the casket of Emmett Till through a large crowd gathered outside Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ on Sept. 6, 1955, in Chicago.
Pallbearers carry the casket of Emmett Till through a large crowd gathered outside Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ on Sept. 6, 1955, in Chicago. Preservationists are pushing Chicago to give landmark status to the church which they consider to be the site of a seminal event in the civil rights movement.
AP Photo/Chicago Sun Times

As reported in the Chicago Daily News, sister publication of the Chicago Sun-Times:

Emmett Till’s horrific murder on Aug. 28, 1955, by white men in Mississippi sparked the civil rights movement. On Chicago’s South Side, where the 14-year-old boy lived, the Black community deeply felt his loss.

A report in the Saturday, Sept. 3, 1955 edition of the Chicago Daily News captured the somber mood that pervaded the Bronzeville neighborhood during Till’s funeral.

“By the thousands the curious went to Roberts’ Temple Church of God, 4021 S. State, and filed past the casket,” the report said.

“Some mothers led small children by the hand and carried babies in their arms.”

“Against the advice of the undertakers,” Till’s mother Mamie Bradley insisted the casket be kept open so others “see what they did to my boy,” the paper said.

The report estimated about 50,000 people viewed the body in the chapel Friday night, and another 10,000 saw it before services began Saturday. The casket would remain on display until its burial the following Tuesday.

“The crowds were orderly at all times,” the newspaper reported.