Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Stories my mother lived!
My mother is from a small town in the south. The town, Itta Bena is located in Mississippi, less than 10 minutes from Greenwood where the trial took place for the murder of Emmett Till. Last weekend I took my normal 35 minute drive to visit my mother and other family members as I do every week. Once there we chat, talk about the good old days and talk about what is happening with the world, our family and people in general.
As mother and I talked, she started talking about Greenwood, Mississippi and her own small hometown. For some reason we ended up talking about this little country store that I remember going in to visit when I was about 10 years old. I don't know why I asked my mother did she remember when we walked into that little country store and I asked to buy a soda and the store owner, reminded me that it was a Pop. I also remembered that he asked us a lot of questions about where we were from, who we were visiting, etc., and that he was pretty nervous. I asked my mother what was wrong with that man and she said that he was a relative of J. W. Milan who had killed a black kid and that he and his family had run her brother out of town, trying to catch him to kill him too. Mom said that without his brothers and other family members he was scared of something happening to him. But none of that stuff meant anything to me. Until last weekend when she repeated it.
To make a long story short, that man was a brother in law or the brother of J.W. Milan, who confessed in 1955 to killing Emmett Till, the 14 year-old African American boy who was killed by Milan and Bryant for whistling at a white woman. I wasn't born when that happened but I remember that man in the store as clear as day. Mother said that the other man in the store that day was J. W. Milan himself. Mother also said that another man was with them that night and was a part of killing Emmett and his name was Rayford. I don't know if I spelled that right. But I am still shocked that I met a relative of that guy and answered his questions.
I know this though, next week I am taking a tape recorder and record my mother's history and life. She has a rich history and we need to record it for generations to come.