Emmett Till was a 14-year old boy who was beaten beyond recognition, had one of his eyes gouged out, and then was shot in the head by two white supremacists in Mississippi in 1955. They accused him of flirting with a white woman – the cashier at a grocery store – who was the wife of one the men. Both men were eventually acquitted, despite later admitting to the murder.
Emmett’s mother made the decision to have an open-casket funeral and invited a magazine photographer to take photos of the unrecognizable Emmett. His photos went around the U.S. and incited many to take up the Civil Rights cause. I didn’t post them because they’re awful, but you can find them easily on Google Images.
Lil Wayne’s recent lyrics on an unofficially released song have recently stirred up historical anger over Emmett’s memory and legacy. Till’s family has even written an open letter to Lil Wayne denouncing the reference. The lyrics are: “Beat that p—-y up like Emmett Till”. [The story and portions of the Till family letter are on MTV’s site here]