1 Emmett Till’s mother was still fighting for justice when she died.

‘A Few Days Full of Trouble’ by Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr. and Christopher Benson

If you’ve seen the movie Till, you know that Mamie Till-Mobley kept her son’s story alive with speeches and interviews about his 1955 murder in Mississippi, for which no one was convicted. But the authors, the Reverend Wheeler Parker Jr., a cousin of Till’s, and Northwestern University journalism professor and attorney Christopher Benson, write that Till-Mobley also worked with investigators and attorneys. On the day she died — January 6, 2003 — she was preparing to meet activist Alvin Sykes and filmmaker Keith Beauchamp about building a case for criminal charges against accomplices in the murder.

2 John McCain had a connection to the Till family.

Parker’s wife is a descendent of the “Black McCains,” enslaved on a Mississippi plantation owned by the late senator’s ancestors.

3 A unique legal provision reopened the case.

The statute of limitations blocked Till’s family from seeking federal charges. But a law permitting federal officials to look for answers in unsolved cases allowed the FBI to open a new investigation in 2004.

4 The historian who claimed Till’s accuser recanted testimony sat on the confession for 10 years.

Carolyn Bryant was 21 when she accused 14-year-old Till of whistling at her, leading to his lynching. Her testimony helped exonerate her husband and his half brother. In a 2007 interview, Bryant told historian Timothy Tyson she had lied on the stand. But it wasn’t until 2017 that Tyson revealed Bryan’s admission in his book The Blood of Emmett Till. The FBI investigated but was unable to verify the claim. Tyson said he had it on tape but never produced it.

5 The lack of resolution torments the family.

The FBI closed the case in December 2021, saying it had found no new evidence to prove anyone else was involved. “I cry. Every day,” Parker writes. “Strange as it might seem, there was a part of me that didn’t want it to be over — the investigation. After all, the questions would still linger, and the answers would always taunt us, just beyond reach.”