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GREENWOOD, Miss. — History is in the making in Greenwood, Mississippi as city and state leaders dedicate a statue to Emmett Till.

The unveiling comes decades after the 14-year-old was kidnapped and brutally murdered by two white men after he allegedly “whistled” at a white woman.

Hundreds turned out to see the first such statue dedicated to Till, an emotional image for those who grew up in the Mississippi Delta.

Walter Ware, born and raised in Leflore County, will never forget the fear Till’s death sent through the area.

‘I was about 16 years old when this happened, when Emmett Till was killed,” Ware said. “Everybody was somewhat afraid that other people would be killed in the same way he was killed.”

The City’s Mayor hopes the statue will be a catalyst for change in attitude and tolerance.

“I hope it shows that we can’t change the past, but we can certainly do something about the future,” Mayor Carolyn McAdams said. “And so I hope it shows that we are compassionate, we are caring, and this should never, ever happen again.”

According to the artist, the sculpture is designed to stand for a thousand years, and for many, Friday’s event is the first step toward that future.

“I want us to look right and left to each other and say we need to do better in the spirit of young Emmett, the spirit of this memorial,” U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson said. “We won’t let his death be in vain.”

The sculpture cost $250,000 and was paid for with state government funds.