Emmett Till, a fourteen-year-old boy, was murdered in 1955. Killed, executed, or slain — however you want to say it — Till's fate cannot be rationalized. If you remain unconvinced, or worse, indifferent, I highly suggest reading In Remembrance of Emmett Till: Regional Stories and Media Responses to the Black Freedom Struggle, by Darryl Mace, Ph.D. Mace's scathing account of how the case was deliberately mishandled to the point of a farce should clear up any doubts you may have had about Till. Through poignant accounts from Till's family, friends, and news media coverage, Till's case is so carefully reconstructed, it is as though you have taken a seat in the jury box.

August 28, 1955, should not have been the last night of Emmett Till's life. However, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milman, the two white men accused of kidnapping and murdering Till, had other plans for the boy. Bryant and Milman dragged Till from his uncle's Mississippi home that evening. Till would be brutally beaten, then shot in the skull by Bryant and Milman before the evening's end. His body was tossed into a river, weighed down by a cotton gin. Till's body would later float to the surface on August 31, 1955. While Bryant and Milman were the only men arrested for the deed, experts on the case believe that the two men had multiple accomplices.

Mamie Till-Mobley, Till's mother, was then tasked with a deed no mother should have to carry out; she had to bury her son. Till's bedraggled body was brought back to Chicago via train. Upon seeing her son's coffin, Ms. Mobley fell to her knees. In between her sobs, she could be heard saying, "My didn't die for nothing." Given Till's manner of death and his submersion in the lake, his body was in a decrepit state. Ms.Till-Mobley, despite warnings from officials, demanded to see her son's body. "Open it up," Ms.Till-Mobley shouted, "let the people see what they did to my boy." Mace praises Ms.Till-Mobley for refusing to fall into 1950s gendered stereotypes. She refused to be a "hysterical" woman. Was Ms.Till-Mobley devastated? The mother was shattered by her loss. Any parent in her position would be.

Beginning with her determination to leave her son's casket open, Mace reminds us Ms.Till-Mobley refused to be another silent victim of Deep South slavery. She was a champion for her son, both in his life and death. Ms.Till-Mobley was the inspiration for many activists to come, "Ascribing her agency that belied typical 1955 gender conventions, the paper lauded her for having the presence of mind to show the world what happened to her son...Without her timely decision, her son's death would not have emboldened a generation of activists, for these civil rights champions across the country would not have seen the decimated remains of Emmett Till..."

The detailed summary of Bryant's and Milman's trial show that the case was doomed from the beginning. From the all white male jury, to the Deep South location of the trial, there was no doubt Bryant and Milman would walk away free men. However, In Remembrance of Emmett Till; Regional Stories and Media Responses to the Black Freedom Struggle refuses to let not only these heinous men, but racist philosophies, both historical and modern, walk away unchallenged. If not for authors like Mace, and steadfast activists like Ms.Till-Mobley, his story would be lost to us.

Emmett Till should still be alive today. Declarations such as, "this will never happen again," were made after Till's murder. That promise is still made and broken. Nearly six decades after Till's case, attacks on young black men are still prevalent, perhaps on some level, habitual. While we have done our best to improve race relations in this country, there is still so much that must be said. The legacy of Emmett Till keeps people talking.

Amazon: In Remembrance of Emmett Till: Regional Stories and Media Responses to the Black Freedom Struggle

Scott Hunt is a senior English major with a concentration in writing. He loves his family, friends, puppies, and Liz Lemon.