George Floyd unrest similar to reaction after murder of Emmett Till in 1955

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TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY, Miss. — Protests over the murder of George Floyd continue to raise awareness to issues of racism and social injustice in the United States.

Many compare the outcry over Floyd’s death to that of the murder of Emmett Till in 1955.

Emmett Till

It’s a long dusty drive from Memphis to the Emmett Till memorial in Tallahatchie County, Mississippi.

Standing alone near a cotton field, the marker in a bulletproof case is close to where the 14-year-old’s body was found in the Tallahatchie River.

“It wasn’t until the Emmett Till murder that, frankly, I think society at large was forced to look at racism in an entirely different way,” said Benjamin Saulsbury, director of the Emmett Till Interpretive Center.

MORE: House passes anti-lynching bill 65 years after 14-year-old Emmett Till’s brutal murder

Until the COVID-19 pandemic forced the center to close, people from all over the country visited.

George Floyd died while in police custody on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Photo Credit: Courtesy Ben Crump Law Firm

Saulsbury said since Floyd’s death, there has been an increased interest about Emmett Till’s murder.

“But it wasn’t until the George Floyd murder, at least recently, that society as a whole has decided to protest and speak out against it,” he said.

The 14-year-old was tortured, lynched and drowned after he allegedly flirted with a white woman at a store in Money, Mississippi.

Keeping a sharp focus on racism has been a passion for Johnny Thomas, mayor of Glendora, Mississippi.

WATCH: Visitors to Emmett Till memorial say video shows racism alive

“Here they beat the child first and took him on what we call the Till Trail of Terror,” Thomas said.

Thomas said Emmett Till was thrown from a bridge into the murky water below.

He said the museum he’s established in Glendora teaches visitors of all ages a living history lesson.

“And we’re asking you young folks to get involved and engage yourself as you did in 1964 and ’65 when you made a real difference,” Thomas said.

The museum in Glendora is open Tuesday through Saturday.

Even though the interpretive center in Sumner is closed to the public, you can still get information about the center and get updates on when they will reopen by going to emmett-till.org.

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