Mississippi County approves contracts for Emmett Till statue

FILE - State Sen. David Jordan, D-Greenwood, gestures toward a possible site for a memorial statue at Rail Spike Park, July 14, 2021, in Greenwood, Miss.  The park will become the site of a statue honoring Emmett Till, a black teenager whose lynching in 1955 galvanized the civil rights movement.  Jordan secured state money for Leflore County to erect a statue of Till, and it is expected to be in place around October 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

FILE – State Sen. David Jordan, D-Greenwood, gestures toward a possible site for a memorial statue at Rail Spike Park, July 14, 2021, in Greenwood, Miss. The park will become the site of a statue honoring Emmett Till, a black teenager whose lynching in 1955 galvanized the civil rights movement. Jordan secured state money for Leflore County to erect a statue of Till, and it is expected to be in place around October 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)

PA

A county in Mississippi has approved contracts for a sculptor to make and install a bronze statue of Emmett Till, the black teenager whose lynching in 1955 became a catalyst for the civil rights movement.

Leflore County supervisors voted on the contracts on Monday, about seven months after they originally agreed the county would have a statue of Till, the Greenwood Commonwealth reported.

Installation is scheduled for around October 1 at Rail Spike Park in Greenwood.

The Justice Department announced in December that it was ending its investigation into Till’s murder. The 14-year-old from Chicago was visiting relatives in the Mississippi Delta when he was abducted, tortured and shot after witnesses said he stalked a white woman at a rural grocery store in Money. The small community is in Leflore County, about 10 miles north of Greenwood.

Till’s mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, insisted on an open funeral in Chicago, and Jet magazine published photos of her brutalized body. These gruesome images have galvanized civil rights activists.

The two Leflore County contracts are with Utah-based company Big Statues, run by sculptor Matt Glenn. The first contract says Leflore County will pay $110,900 to make and ship the statue. The second contract says the county will pay $5,640 for the installation.

Mississippi has dozens of statues of Confederate soldiers in county courthouses, but it has few statues of black historical figures.

State Sen. David Jordan of Greenwood got $150,000 from the state last year to pay for the statue. A few weeks after Till’s death, Jordan attended the trial of Roy Bryant and JW Milam, the two white men charged. An all-white jury acquitted them.

The Justice Department reopened an investigation into Till’s murder after a 2017 book quoted Carolyn Bryant Donham, who was married to Roy Bryant in 1955, as saying she lied when she claimed Till l had caught and made sexual advances to her while she was working in the store. Relatives have publicly denied that Donham, who is over 80, recanted his allegations about Till.

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