A marker memorializing the tragic death of 14-year-old Emmett Till has gone missing from Money, Mississippi. The sign, which was located in front of the grocery store where Till was accused of offending a White woman, went missing days after the 66th anniversary of Till’s death.
The Emmett Till Interpretive Center, a museum dedicated to Till’s legacy, tweeted Thursday the sign had been hit by a car and then removed from its site.
“At this point, we are still gathering more information about the missing sign,” Patrick Weems, executive director of the center, said in a statement Friday. “Unfortunately, memorials to the 14-year-old child have been shot, defaced with acid, thrown in the Tallahatchie River, and have had KKK sprayed on them, so we are taking this missing sign seriously.”
A Mississippi Freedom Trail marker recaps the significance of Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market, left, now in ruins, in Money, Miss., where in 1955, 14-year old Emmett Till, an African American male, allegedly whistled, grabbed and made sexual advances to Carolyn Bryant, a white woman, then wife of the store’s owner. Carolyn Donham, who divorced Roy Bryant in 1975 and remarried, said in a 2008 interview that she was not truthful when she testified against Till.
Till was lynched on August 28, 1955, after Carolyn Bryant’s husband and father accused him of whistling at her in Bryant’s Grocery. His death has long been considered a major catalyst for the civil rights movement. In 2008, markers commemorating significant moments in Till’s short life were placed across Mississippi. Since then, many of the signs have repeatedly been vandalized and destroyed.
The Emmett Till Interpretive Center is calling on the federal government to give the areas important to Till’s story National Historic Park designation. Such a distinction would mean anyone who vandalizes the signs could face federal charges.
“We hope that this was not another act of vandalism, given the history of these signs commemorating Emmett being stolen, shot up, and defaced,” Reverend Wheeler Parker, Jr., Till’s cousin and last living eyewitness to his kidnapping, said in a statement to CBS News. “We implore Congress to take action to protect these historic sites and this vital American story through creating an Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Park.”
“Our message today is that, despite the opposition, our community has repeatedly come together to honor Emmett’s life, and we will do that again,” the center wrote in a tweet Thursday.