As the civil rights movement and Brown vs. Board of Education was blatantly being ignored in most of Mississippi, the decision to send a young Chicago boy who needed structure to the South was made by his widowed mother, Mamie Till. Unaware of the depth of racism and Jim Crow in the South, 14-year-old Emmett Till arrived in Money, Mississippi on August 20, 1955 to stay with his great uncle, Moses Wright. After a day of picking cotton, Till accompanied a group of youngsters to Bryant’s grocery to buy candy and cold drinks.
The playback of what happened inside the local store between Till and the store owner’s wife, Carolyn Bryant, has varied. Some believe Till whistled at Bryant, while she claimed that the 14-year old approached and touched her, while making sexually suggestive comments. The story is unclear as to what actually happened, but other children with Till claimed he had bragged about having a white girlfriend back in Chicago.