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BBC World Speaks to Janis McDonald About Emmett Till Cold Case

Posted on Monday 7/23/2018
Janis McDonald

(BBC World Service | 7/13/2018): The US justice department has reopened its investigation into the murder of black teenager. In 1955 Emmett Till from Chicago was visiting relatives in the southern state of Mississippi when he was abducted and killed. Janis McDonald from the Cold Case Initiative said the new investigation had great significance for the Civil Rights Movement.

"This is a guidepost for all the other people. There are hundreds of people who lost relatives and had never been accounted for. There has never been a full accounting of how many people killed during that era. We've turned over hundreds of cases to the FBI that they did not investigate. If they re-open an investigation that is so well-known as Emmett Till, then there are so many more. We need an accounting in the United States" [Professor Emerita Janis McDonald].

Our Washington correspondent reports on the details of the case. The US government not saying exactly what new evidence is has prompted it to reopen the 63-year-old murder case but it does followed the revelation that a white woman who accused 14-year-old Emmett Till of making sexual advances towards her hand ultimately lied under oath.

It was her accusation in 1955 that led her husband and friend of his to drag the young African-American from his bed in rural Mississippi and then to torture, beat, and shoot them before dumping his body in a river at his funeral. Emmett Till's mother insisted on an open casket so the world could see just how barbaric attack had been and how much it had disfigured him.

The two attackers were acquitted by an all-white jury but later admitted they had killed Emmett Till ...

Listen to the BBC World clip.