Interview with Myrlie Evers


Myrlie Evers:

The Emmett Till case was one that shook the foundations of Mississippi, both black and white. Because of one—with the white community because of the fact that it had become nationally publicized. With us as blacks because it said even a child was not safe from racism and bigotry and death. Medgar was the field secretary for the NAACP and he and others who worked with him, had the responsibility of going into these areas wherever there might have been problems and investigating these cases. I can recall so well that Medgar cried when he found that this had happened to Emmett Till, cried out of the frustration and the anger and of wanting to physically strike out, and hurt. I myself, felt anger, frustration, almost a hopelessness, at that time that things were going to continue to happen. But it also said something else to me, too, that Medgar's life was in danger twenty-four hours a day, because at that particular time, he was the only person who was in the forefront of investigations, of getting the word of these autocracies out to, to the public. I bled for Emmett Till's mother. I know when she came to Mississippi and appeared at the mass meetings, how everyone just poured out their hearts to her, went into their pockets when people had only two or three pennies, and gave that—some way to say that—we bleed for you. We hurt for you. We are so sorry what happened to Emmett. And that this is just one thing that will be a frame of reference for us to move on to do more things, positively, to eliminate this from happening ever again. It was a sad and terrible time, and perhaps it's too bad to have to say that sometimes it takes those kinds of things to happen, to help a people become stronger and to eliminate the fear that they have to speak out and do something that will eliminate murders, such as Emmett Till's. And that was kind of the feeling that went through the black community in the entire state at that particular time.