September 10, 1955
The Till case received national and international attention and was covered extensively in the black press. This article is the first of many reports the Chicago Defender ran on the Till murder, and it offers important context for understanding what this horrific murder meant in 1955:
The NAACP charged that Mississippi has decided to maintain white supremacy by killing children...Mississippi had been free of lynchings since 1951 until last May. Young Till is the third person to fall in Mississippi’s “anti-Negro war” in less than five months. The Rev. George W. Lee, 51, was blasted to death by unknown persons in Belzoni, Miss., and Lamar Smith, 63, was shot to death virtually on the court house steps in Brookhaven on Aug. 13. Both had been active in the voter registration drive. The situation in Mississippi has been growing steadily worse since the Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public schools on May 17, 1954. Whites in the state have organized themselves into groups known as the Citizens Councils and have attempted to effect an economic freeze in order to force Negroes to stop ‘agitating’ for integration.