Zbigniew Bzdak, Chicago Tribune
July 10, 2009
Emmett Till's original casket sits in disrepair in a structure on the grounds of Burr Oak Cemetery in Alsip, Ill. Till's body was exhumed in 2005 as part of an investigation into his killing in rural Mississippi in 1955 because he whistled at a white woman. At the time, the casket was beaten up and in poor shape, Till's cousin Simeon Wright said, and because of state laws, the family reburied Till in a new one.
The old casket has special meaning because it held Till's body when he was viewed by thousands in Chicago after he was beaten to death and drowned. Photographs of that event helped spur the civil rights movement.
Till's family was assured by the cemetery's office manager, Carolyn Towns, that the casket would be preserved, Wright said. It is now known that the casket wasn't taken care of, and money that Towns raised for a memorial had been pocketed.