Civil Rights – Emmett Till – The Brutal Murder of a Fourteen Year Old Boy – Bob Dylan lyrics.


Emmett Till was just fourteen years old. He came from Chicago and was visiting relatives in the Mississippi. Emmett was not used to Southern ways. Blacks were considered to be almost sub-human. The white supremacists of the Klu Klux Klan set about terrorising the black community.

Emmett made the ‘mistake’ of talking to a 21 year old white woman in a manner that was considered too casual and flirtatious. Two days later the woman’s husband and half brother went round and grabbed Emmett. They dragged him to a barn and beat him unmercifully in the course of which they gouged out his eye. The beating went on for hours and his screams were clearly heard but no-one had the courage to come to his rescue. They knew the price would be similar treatment and a lynching.

Eventually they shot him, tied a metal fan round his neck with barbed wire and threw his body into the Tallahatchie river.

The body was recovered and so badly beaten that his mother could not recognise him

The two men were acquitted.

The trial brings shame on the white community of Mississippi in a number of ways.

Racism is a canker that turns reasonable people into brutal beasts. We have to build a world based on equality and fairness!

Bob Dylan was one of many who highlighted this terrible crime, and the disgusting legal system that freed those men, in his song – ‘Emmett Till’

The Death of Emmett Till

Was down in Mississippi not so long ago
When a young boy from Chicago town
Walked in a Southern door

This boy’s fateful tragedy
You all should remember well
The color of his skin was black
And his name was Emmett Till

Some men, they dragged him to a barn
And there they beat him up
They said they had a reason
But I just can’t remember what

They tortured him and did some things
Too evil to repeat
There were screaming sounds inside the barn
There was laughing sounds out on the street

Then they rolled his body down a gulf
Amidst a blood red rain
And they threw him in the waters wide
To cease his screaming pain

The reason that they killed him there
And I’m a-sure, it ain’t no lie
‘Cause he was born in black-skin barn
He was born to die

And then to stop the United States
Of yelling for a trial
Two brothers, they confessed
That they had killed poor Emmett Till

But on the jury there were men
Who had helped the brothers commit this awful crime
And so this trial was a mockery
But nobody there seemed to mind

I saw the morning papers
But I could not bear
To see smiling brothers
Walkin’ down the courthouse stairs

For the jury found them innocent
And the brothers, they went free
While Emmett’s body floats the foam
Of a Jim Crow southern sea

If you can’t speak out against this kind of thing
A crime that’s so unjust
Your eyes are filled with dead men’s clay
Your ears must be filled with dust

Your arms and legs
They must be in shackles and chains
And your mind, it must cease to flow
For you to let our human race
Fall down so God-awful low

This song is just a reminder
To remind your fellow man
That this kind of thing still lives today
In that ghost-robed Ku Klux Klan

But if all of us folks that thinks alike
If we gave all we could give
We could make this great land of ours
A greater place to live

Read more: Bob Dylan – The Death Of Emmett Till Lyrics | MetroLyrics

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