How Emmett Till’s Murder Changed the World

A horrific event that helped energize the U.S. Civil Rights Movement.

TIME

In 1955, when 14-year-old Emmett Till traveled from his home in Chicago to stay with a great-uncle in Tallahatchie County, Miss., his mother was nervous. Though the world was changing — the Brown v. Board of Education decision had come the year before — the Deep South was still a dangerous place to be black. Till’s mother, Mamie Till Mobley, who had grown up in the rural county (a “snake-infested swamp,” as TIME described it that year), warned him of the risks. She told him “to be very careful… to humble himself to the extent of getting down on his knees,” per TIME.

“Living in Chicago,” she explained at the trial of his murderers, “he didn’t know.”

The teenager was abducted at gunpoint from his great-uncle’s home on this day, Aug. 28, 60 years ago, by two white men who accused him of having whistled at a white woman in…

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