We've already talked a little bit about money in rural Mississippi-- as in there isn't enough to go around. In the minds of some Mississippians it's money that has replaced skin color as a dividing line.
Let's return for a moment to the town as well. We'll start on Money Road, just north of Greenwood at Little Zion Church. Here we met Deacon Sylvester Hoover and joined DSU's Dr. Henry Outlaw, Jim Abbot who is a local representative of the ACLU, as wells as the son of a lawyer who served on the prosecution team during the Emmett Till trial. The four men led us in a panel discussion of the Till case.
Come to find out, Deacon Hoover had just been interviewed by NBC Dateline. You can watch the show online here: 40 years later, Mississippi waiter’s ’magical moment’ renews race relations
Before you watch though, you are probably somewhat familiar with the landscape of Greenwood since The Help was filmed here. (I know that I'm an English teacher, but if you only saw the film, you really should read the book.)
But back to Emmett Till. Part of our tour of the local community included a stop at Bryant's Grocery. Below you will see the legendary Dr. Luther Brown standing next to the Mississippi Freedom Trail Marker. He wrote the text for this important plaque that marks the spot where young Emmett bought chewing gum and allegedly whistled at the store owner's young wife.
Here are the crumbling remains of the Bryant Store. It is currently owned by one of the jurors from the Till case. You can own it for 3 million dollars. If you buy it, please let Luther know, so he can help you preserve and interpret the site.
The Till jury is best remembered for delivering a remarkably swift decision (not guilty) in the case. Unfortunately, it wasn't because justice was swift. One juror even bragged that the decision would have come sooner, but they stopped to have Coca-Colas.
If you've been following my blog, you know that I've already written about Till at length, so I won't repeat myself. If you'd like to see the FBI files on the Till murder for yourself, they are available here.
The next photo might seem strange to you. It's Clint holding a popular Delta snack. Children down here love Koolickles. Each day included a "taste of the day," and we ate Koolickles in front of the Bryant Grocery. It seemed odd at first to eat a snack in front of such a terrifying site, but it's always good to be reminded of a child's life. Were Emmett a teen visiting his family in the South today, he'd surely get in line for a Koolickle at the local store.
Till is remembered for his death for certain, but up until his kidnapping and murder, he was known for his outgoing and fun-loving nature. Who among us can say that we've entertained our school pals by showing our baby fat and making our tummy roll like the waves? There are countless lessons to be learned from Till's murder, but today let's be reminded of the joyful life that he lived and his mother who loved him so.