The brutal lynching of Emmett Till in the 1955 Jim Crow South galvanized the civil rights movement. An eyewitness to his abduction has passed away.
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Simeon Wright, Till’s cousin, lost his battle with bone cancer and died on Monday at age 74, the Washington Post reports.
The Chicago Sun-Times said Wright, who grew up in Mississippi, was a Chicago resident. He died without seeing justice for his cousin.
In 1955, Till, a Chicagoan, was visiting Wright’s family in Mississippi when Till was abducted and killed for allegedly whistling at a White woman.
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The Post said Wright was just 12 years old, sleeping in the same bed with his 14-year-old cousin, when the woman’s husband, Roy Bryant, and another White man broke into the house with guns and grabbed Till. Days later, the teenager’s body was found floating in a river. He was beaten viciously and shot in the head.
Till’s mother wanted the world to know what was done to her son. She told the funeral home not to fix up his body, which was place in an open casket.
The Sun-Times said Wright wrote about those events in a book titled “Simeon’s Story.” He longed for justice, which has eluded the family for decades.
An all-White jury acquitted Bryant and his accomplice. Months after the acquittal, they confessed to the killing. Bryant’s ex-wife, Carolyn Bryant Donham, gave conflicting stories over the years about her encounter with Till.
Wright is survived by his wife and extended family, The Post reported.