Emmett Till artifacts on display in Black Archives

Outside of the Meek-Eaton Black Archives Research Center
and Museum (Photos of display are prohibited)
Photo credit: Sydne Vigille

The Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University’s (FAMU) Meek-Eaton Black Archives Research Center and Museum has a new exhibit that consists of acquired artifacts donated by the Florida State University’s Emmett Till Research Collection, which came just in time for Black History Month.

Encased in two glass sheaths at FAMU’s Black Archives are original articles and documents of the legal process–one that was not easy for Till’s mother, Mamie Bradley–and aftermath of Till’s murder.

Till was just a 14-year-old boy when on a late August night in 1955 he was abducted from his great uncle’s home in Money, Miss. The incident occured four days after rumors circulated of Till whistling at a white woman by the name of Carolyn Bryant.

The allegations resulted in Bryant’s husband and his half-brother gruesomely mutilated the 14-year-old boy. Before her death, Bryant broke her six-decade silence and revealed to historian Timothy B. Tyson, a Duke University professor, that her allegations were false.

Second-year pre-occupational therapy student Janyla Manley, who volunteers at the Black Archives, said that it is important to be educated the history of Till’s gruesome death.

“It’s important to know and see how far a false accusation can go and how deadly it can be for a black man,” Manley said.

Till’s untimely death has been mourned by sympathizers for over sixty years and is one of many national catalysts for the civil right movement.

“There are more accusations of sexual assault than ever, people should be more careful about what they say. Nowadays, people are more violent, so you never know what could come out of that situation, such as the Emmett Till situation,” Manley continued.

Managing how public opinion shapes, the course of history is imperative to the youth. Noel Williams, who is a member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated, plans to bring children from the organization’s youth program to view the exhibit.

“This case is an example of why the Black Lives Matter movement is so important,” Williams said. “It’s a good opportunity for the youth to learn about this significant event in the civil rights movement.”

Malena Lowe, a staff member at the Black Archives, said the history of the exhibit will always be relevant to educate future generations.  

“It’s time to educate each other. Even though we are African-American, there are a lot of black kids that don’t really know the whole story behind what happened,” Lowe said.   

This exhibit will be on display for the month of February. A removal or rotation date has not been set, so the artifacts can be moved without any notice.