History of the Center
The Emmett Till Interpretive Center was the vision of the late Jerome G. Little, the first African-American President of the Tallahatchie County Board of Supervisors.
For fifty-plus years, the town of Sumner and the surrounding area tried to ignore the memory of Emmett Till with the hope that the incident would fade. But instead of fading, the memory and importance of Emmett Till grew.
In 2006, Supervisor Little organized the Emmett Till Memorial Commission. The ETMC, made up of a multi-racial group of citizens, realized that in order to properly remember and honor Emmett Till, they needed to first break the silence and take responsibility for their role in the injustice. In 2007, the ETMC offered a formal apology and delivered the apology to the Till Family in a public ceremony in front of the Sumner Courthouse.
The ETMC knew that the apology would be meaningless without action. Over eight years, the organization worked across racial lines to restore the Sumner Courthouse back to the its condition during the 1955 trial of Emmett Till’s murderers and to create an Emmett Till museum to live out the first line of the apology, which reads, "Racial Reconciliation begins by telling the truth."
Today, the Emmett Till Interpretive Center exists to tell the story of the Emmett Till tragedy and to point a way towards racial healing. Specifically, the center uses arts and storytelling to help process past pain and to imagine new ways of moving forward.